Uh, Oh - A 'Year Of The Tablet?'

Google-Tablets-AAs we reported in various ways last week, media buyers are coming into 2013 with a special jones for the tablet platform. Deloitte predicted that this would be the last year the ad industry would lump smartphone and tablet advertising together as “mobile.” And ad exchange platform MoPub reported that eCPMs for tablet advertising were accelerating. It all makes sense, of course. Closer to the visual scale of desktop but in a more personal and touch-enabled format, driven by strong e-commerce conversions, this should be an advertisers' playground.

That momentum only increased late last week when IPG's media forecasting and research group Magna Global revised its overall ad-spending projections. While Magna now expects virtually all major media to be under pressure this coming year -- including TV in a post-Olympics and post-election year -- overall Internet spend is still above the usual cycles and projected to gain 14.2% in the U.S.

But in the course of making that prediction, Magna EVP and Director of Global Forecasting Vincent Letang singled out the power of the tablet in the new multi-screen ecosystem. His comments are worth quoting at length because they position the tablet squarely apart from “mobile” advertising as we tend to conceive of it thus far.

"The concept of mobile advertising started with smartphones but tablets are changing everything, rapidly establishing themselves as universal media players (TV programs, movies, radio, news, magazines) in a way never achieved through 'personal' computers. By their versatility and user-friendliness, tablets are increasing digital media usage and redefining social media, online video and e-commerce. Their influence will be felt far beyond on-the-go media usage as a growing proportion of that happens in the home. Part of that usage is cannibalizing media time spent on desktops and laptops, but tablets bring incremental media exposure, partly through multitasking. This new environment creates new opportunities as well as challenges for marketers and media owners. Despite the complexities in the ecosystem, the difficult upgrade of media measurement and the painful redefinition of many business models, Magna Global believes we have only scratched the surface of this new world.”

He goes on to predict that the mobile category overall will reach $11.5 billion in ad spend by 2017, amounting to 18% of digital spending and 6% of all ad spend in the U.S.

The actual behaviors around tablet use bear close scrutiny, because as the screens become more portable I believe we will see their role as personal media portals only grow and morph. They will move more freely around the house and become identified with at-your-fingertips information in a wider range of contexts (kitchen, garage, bed). I suspect media companies should consider not only optimizing their content for tablets, but actively pushing their visitors toward those experiences precisely because they tend to be more engaging and more likely to be used at the point of need/desire/inspiration.

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