A Tale Of Two Mobile Devices: Madison Ave. Begins Segmenting Tablets Vs. Smartphones

If the last several years have been the “year of mobile,” 2013 is proving to be the year the ad industry is finally figuring out how to use it -- and as it turns out, it’s not one medium at all. In what may be the first research to benchmark how advertisers and agencies are integrating personal mobile devices into their overall strategic planning, a benchmark study from Advertiser Perceptions Inc. indicates the ad industry has begun dividing the way it uses -- and allocates budgets to -- mobile into two categories based on device type: tablets and smartphones. And while smartphones currently represent the dominant share (58%) of advertising budgets going to mobile, the amount of advertising allocated to tablet devices is projected to expand at a faster rate and should reach parity within the next couple of years.

The reason, says API President Randy Cohen, is because of the different ways advertisers plan to use tablets vs. smartphones to market to consumers.

“The tablet is the part people see growing more for a number of reasons,” he explains, noting: “It obviously affects the old print companies that are moving more stuff to tablets.” As a result, Cohen says ad executives see tablets more as an extension of conventional “engagement” based advertising, while smartphones are perceived more as “digital data-driven” experiences that are more suitable for “performance” marketing.

Those perceptions aren’t just impacting the types of campaigns marketers and agencies are developing for personal mobile devices, but how they are budgeting them. According to the ad executives, while smartphone ad budgets are being funded out of “digital” budgets, tablets are drawing either from “traditional” media budgets such as magazines and television, or are incremental.

The data also reveals that unlike earlier digital media like search (where Google drove ad innovation), or social (where Facebook and Twitter are driving innovation), ad executives don’t yet perceive any media entity yet to be a market “leader” in developing the mobile marketplace.

“It’s certainly not the mobile ad nets or content sites,” says Cohen, adding: “Advertisers don’t see them as being leaders in the space.” Some of the companies that ad execs see as potential leaders include Amazon, Pandora and YouTube --   but right now, according to Cohen, the mobile advertising marketplace is still looking for leaders that can drive innovation and help organize it from a marketing perspective.

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