Apple is expected to up the ante in the tablet wars when it unveils the iPad Mini at a press event on Tuesday in San Francisco. The small version of the original Apple tablet, expected to offer a 7.85-inch screen, will stand as a more direct competitor to popular 7-inch tablets like Amazon’s Kindle Fire and Google’s Nexus 7.
With 10 million units reportedly ordered for the fourth quarter, Apple has high hopes that the Mini will be a strong seller over the key holiday shopping season. The latest tablet could also prove a boon for marketers on the advertising front, according to some ad executives.
The Mini could help expand the overall tablet audience, which tends to be more affluent than the overall mobile audience. “We know from industry studies that 56% of tablet owners make over $75,000, and 46% have made a purchase after interacting with a tablet ad, so this creates a new, potentially very lucrative frontier for digital marketers,” noted Kurt Hawks, general manager of mobile ad network Greystripe.
Some 29% of tablet owners say they have researched a product in the last six months, while 23% have clicked on an ad, 20% have used a special offer or coupon, and 19% have visited a product Web site, according to a survey released in June by the Online Publishers Association.
In that vein, Hawks pointed to a recent iPad campaign for a breakfast bar that had a 19% interaction rate and an average of 31 seconds spent with the ad. “We expect these results will be repeated with the iPad Mini,” he said.
Krishna Subramanian, CMO of mobile marketing firm Velti, suggested that the Mini could even help boost ad performance over its predecessor. That’s based on data from the company’s Mobclix ad exchange showing that 300 x 250 banner ads on Kindle Fire have a click-through rate of 3.3% compared to 1.9% on the iPad.
If the Mini delivers results closer to the comparably sized Kindle Fire, it would be an improvement over the iPad for that common ad type.
“Based on our data, we’re seeing that a smaller screen size on tablets leads to higher mobile marketing engagement,” said Subramanian.
The Mini’s smaller screen size will also make it more of a truly mobile device than the 10-inch iPad, according to Greg McAllister, co-founder and CEO of m-commerce software provider PushPoint Mobile. Research has shown that much tablet use takes place at home rather than on the go.
“The iPad mini is the ‘Goldilocks’ device for mobile marketing because it’s just right -- not as small as a smartphone with the limitations a smaller screen creates, but not as large as current tablets, whose size makes them less portable,” said McAllister.
To capitalize on a growing tablet audience, mobile ad network Mojiva last week announced the launch of a tablet-only network reaching 40 million devices globally. Given burgeoning demand, IDC in September raised its forecast for the tablet market to 117 million units this year, up from 107 million.
With a price believed to be under $300 for the 8GB version of the iPad Mini, it could prove an attractive alternative to the larger iPad selling for $499, as well as the $199 Kindle Fire. Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster has estimated the Mini could cannibalize 20% of iPad sales.