Commentary

In Tablet Ads, Samsung Wins a Heat But Apple Leads the Race

The success story that is the tablet platform just keeps rolling. Today JP Morgan upped its forecast for sales in 2011 to 51.9 million units , up from 46.1 million previously. Analyst Mark Moskowitz estimates that Apple's share will remain at about 70.9% this year and drop only to 62.8% next year. No clear number two player has emerged, he says, and he even argues that we may not see one until Windows 8 arrives late next year. Amazon, while a potent entrant into the market, may be challenged by Android's shaky OS for tablets, he says. Meanwhile, across the pond, the UK Association of Online Publishers just issued its latest trends report, surveying its members. A staggeringly high share (94%) cites the tablet platform as an opportunity for them.  

It is no secret that manufacturers of every iPad rival product are struggling to get market traction among audiences who just want their iconic touchpad. What is surprising is how poorly many tablets are doing despite some very effective advertising. According to ad effectiveness evaluation firm Ace Metrix and its Ace Score index of creativity in TV ad spots based on audience responses, the tablet category performs better than average among on-air spots. In fact the leading tablet ad so far this year is the "Feel Free" spot for the Galaxy Tab in which a man on an outdoor bench gleefully demonstrates the superior functionality of his device to other mobile-carrying folks. Ace gave Samsung a score of 650 for this effort, while the familiar and saccharine "It Becomes Delightful, Even Magical" spot for Apple iPad took second place with 640. 

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While non-iPad sales often falter, the ads for them are alluring. Spots from BlackBerry for its Playbook and the discontinued HP Touchpad all ranked highly on Ace's scorecard. Nevertheless, and despite Samsung's crowd-pleasing leading spot, Apple dominance proves, well, indomitable.  Overall, Apple ads for the iPad had an Ace Metrix average of 627 for its five ads this year, ahead of Samsung's 607 for its six spots. HP, which has had some noteworthy ads featuring celebrities like Russell Brand, had an average score for its tablet promotions of 605. Blackberry ads averaged a score of 607.  

So far in 2011 Ace has counted 35 TV ads this year touting the various tablet platforms. The effort to chip away at Apple's overwhelming early lead after having defined the market is clearly focused on a weird combination of differentiation and emulation. According to Ace Metrix CEO Peter Daboll, "Capturing consumers' attention and willingness to try a tablet other than the iPad is the name of the game in this tablet war, and solid creative that conveys compelling advantages - like the ability to multi-task, size, ease of use - is just one factor in competing with the market leader."

 

Ads from Toshiba, Kindle and Nook (along with select spots from HP and Blackberry) were among the lowest-rated ads in the competitive set.  

The top ten rated tablet spots of 2011 are available at the Ace Metrix site.

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