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Optimizing Paid Search for Tablet Devices

Posted on Tuesday, January 25th, 2011 by Print This Post Print This Post

Categories - Featured, Mobile, SEM

Tablet devices were the most talked about tech device in 2010, and it looks like they will continue to be the center of attention in 2011. Rapid growth in the tablet market has influenced some online retailers to optimize their search marketing strategy for the iPad and other tablet devices. The trend is also supported by industry evidence, which has found higher conversion rates and ROI for iPad users than traditional PC users. In this post, we look at various targeting and optimization strategies for tablet computers.

Since Apple’s launch of the iPad in 2010, tablet market numbers have grown rapidly, and as competition increases with new devices from HP, Blackberry, which will run on Google’s Android system, we can expect the tablet market to explode in 2011. According to new research from the market research firm IDC, the tablet market grew 45.1% in the last quarter of 2010. IDC’s research also suggests that we can expect the tablet market to continue to boom over the next two years. According to their report, “IDC expects the media tablet market to finish 2010 at nearly 17 million units, and forecasts 44.6 million will ship in 2011, with the U.S. representing nearly 40% of the total. In 2012, IDC forecasts worldwide shipments of 70.8 million units. Growth in 2011 and beyond will be driven by device vendors introducing media tablets based on Android and other operating systems, as well as price and feature competition and strong demand in both the consumer and commercial segments.”

Tablet market growth offers search advertisers a new opportunity to drive revenue. Evidence from Shopatron suggests that tablet devices drive stronger ROI than traditional PC campaigns. According to their research, conducted across 800 retailers last spring, the average iPad conversion rate was seven times higher than that on smartphone devices. What’s more, some Shopatron merchants reported conversion rates from the iPad that were twice that of their PC campaigns. Other research suggests that tablet users spend 50% more than traditional web users with higher order values, that tablet device users spend longer on sites and that they are more responsive to text advertisements.

Source: The Nielsen Company October 2010

Opportunity in Tablets

  • Tablet users spend 50% more than traditional web users
  • Tablet users spend more time on a site
  • More responsive to text ads
  • Lower cost-per-clicks (CPCs)
  • Higher conversion rates
  • Higher average order values

The early adopters of tablet devices fit a narrow but targeted consumer demographic, with larger disposable incomes. It’s also important to keep in mind that tablet devices have larger screens and better visuals, making them able provide a richer online shopping experience than currently available on smartphones. According to AdMob’s Network Survey from 2010:

iPad Demographic

  • 3 out of 4 iPad users are male
  • 3 out of 4 have a household income of over $75K
  • 36% have a household income of over $100K

The advertising opportunities from the tablet market are increasing, but the question remains, how should marketers optimize their campaigns to best connect with their tablet audience? Ideally, marketers should create a tablet-only campaign separate from their desktop and mobile campaigns. Doing so will better enable marketers to control cost-per-click, create more highly targeted ad copy, and maintain better reporting.

Source: Google

Key points to keep in mind when creating a Tablet specific campaign:

  • Tablet specific keywords- Keep in mind that keywords may perform different across tablet devices than they do on mobile devices or traditional PC computers. As always, testing your keyword list is vital to the success of your campaign. Creating a tablet campaign will allow you to test, refine and retest your keyword phrases without altering your desktop campaign
  • Budget– Creating a separate tablet campaign enables you to define a budget specific to tablet advertising.
  • Ad Creative- With a tablet-only campaign, you can customize your ad content for your targeted tablet audience, e.g. tablet specific call-to-actions like “Buy Now from your Tablet” or “Purchase today from your iPad”
  • Make sure landing pages are not Flash heavy
  • Leverage reporting within AdWords to measure performance

Creating a Tablet-only campaign isn’t a possibility for every advertiser, however. In order to effectively run a Tablet-only campaign, you need to have a robust data set, which requires a consistent flow of customers. As Mike Jarvinen, VP, Marketing Strategy at The Search Agency, explains, “In addition to the mobile web, the rise of tablets is also altering performance due to the way that users engage with the tablet.  A rule of thumb I would use, if the conversion footprint justifies separate campaigns for all three – break out campaigns for Desktops, Tablets and Mobile separately.  For many advertisers, however, this parses data too far and performance can decline purely from the small data set for decision-making. If the conversion footprint isn’t robust, separate mobile as unique campaigns and include tablets with desktops and laptops – a closer fit to the user experience unless the data for that individual account says differently.”

As with any aspect of your online marketing campaign, whether it is bid optimization, tracking or budget, the ‘best strategy’ is dependent on the specific goals and challenges of your campaign. If you have the traffic necessary already, creating a tablet-only campaign will better enable you to monitor your key metrics, more directly target your audience and have better reporting. However, many marketers may find it more efficient to incorporate their tablet strategy into their desktop campaign. This will produce more reliable conversion data and provide you with more control over your account.

What steps have you taken to target tablet devices in your search marketing campaigns?

About Camille Canon

Outside of summer jobs and not-for-profit internships, The Search Agency is my first official place of employment. I recently graduated from Mount Holyoke College, where I studied Art History and German. I am an avid cook, baker, and destroyer of diets. My specialties are cream cheese brownies, biscotti cookies and lemon bars. I am also an Art enthusiast. Living in Berlin enables me to follow a young, emerging Art scene complete with “eccentric” performance pieces and temporarily converted butcher shop galleries. I also enjoy running, traveling, and handy work. Camille Canon +

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4 Responses to “Optimizing Paid Search for Tablet Devices”

  1. Barbara says:

    Very thoughtful and complete article. Thanks.

  2. Mike Solomon says:

    Keep in mind the demos quoted in this article are for ipad users which do skew male historically, although this is changing as more ipad specific apps are developed. As more tablets hit the market and price points drop, the demos will get more mainstream and balanced between male/female, income and age.

  3. Alec Green says:

    I agree with Mike that the demographic data is typical of the technology early adopter crowd. I’m still not convinced that tablets will gain the same widespread acceptance as smartphones, but we’ll likely see a more balanced distribution in the next 12-18 months. Also, tablets can be easily shared by the entire family. So it may be one parent that purchases the device, but the other parent or children may end up using it the most.


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