The lack of Web pages optimized for the mobile screen has been one of the biggest hurdles for mobile advertising. New research suggests that problem now extends to tablets, especially Android-powered ones.
Among 200 popular sites that have versions tailored to Android phones, 84% displayed the same mobile version on the Android tablet screen, creating a less-than-ideal user experience.
By contrast, virtually all of these sites recognized the iPad and redirected users to either a desktop site or an iPad-specific version of the site, according to the study by Web optimization firm Blaze. Sites designed for a three- to four-inch screen do not render well on a seven- to 10-inch screen and fail to take advantage of the tablet's larger form factor. That, in turn, limits the effectiveness of any ads running on those sites.
The study overall compared 500 top sites on Android Apple's iOS operating system across smartphones and tablets. To test the rival platforms, it looked at the latest iPhone and iPad on one side, and Google's Nexus S phone and the Motorola XOOM tablet -- both Android-powered devices-- on the other. The difference on the smartphone side wasn't so great: 38% of sites on Nexus S had mobile-specific sites versus 42% on the iPhone.
Of course, marketers would still like to see that roughly 40% proportion increase so mobile ads display properly on most smartphone screens. But the real gap was in the 200 sites that have created versions tailored to Android mobile phones but not tablets. So about 40% of the largest 500 sites aren't capitalizing on the full Android tablet screen.
The main reason: since Android tablets are newer, and fewer have been sold than the iPad, most Web publishers have not gotten around to supporting them. Another factor is that supporting Android devices isn't as simple as doing so for iOS.
"For iOS there are only a handful of phones and one tablet (two versions of it) with known resolutions and screen sizes. For Android, there are over 310 different phone and tablet devices in many shapes and sizes, with new ones coming out monthly," according to a Blaze blog post on its study. "Variety provides more choice to consumers but creates a burden for sites owners to keep pace."
Among other findings, the research showed the page loading time on the iPad2 was 25% faster than on the iPhone4 and 20% faster than the original iPad. On the Android side, Web pages on the XOOM loaded 25% faster than the Nexus S. However, the results were different when looking at loading time across all sites, not just comparing the same site on different devices.
Using that criterion, iPhone pages loaded 12% faster than the iPad2, despite the tablet having higher-capacity hardware. "This shows that while the improved hardware helped, the richer Web sites served to the iPad are considerably slower, and users will have to wait longer for pages to load," according to Blaze. That's something publishers should keep in mind in creating content for the Apple tablet.