Targeting The Consumer: Comparing Tablet to Desktop Paid Search Performance

In my world, we think a lot about reaching affluent audiences with targeted rich media. Of course, rich media isn’t the only way to reach luxury buyers – search engine marketing is also incredibly effective and complimentary to the rich media experience. Since search is extending well beyond the desktop, brands now have to think about targeting audiences by device as well as by keyword phrase. To talk more about this, I’ve invited my friends at Morpheus Media, who’ve just completed a study on tablet search behavior across five luxury brands, to join me here.  Basheer Bergus, Paid Search Strategist at Morpheus, shares what they’ve learned:

Morpheus Media Studies Search Behavior on Tablets Across Five Luxury Brands

As new devices and technologies surface, the evolving landscape of digital media planning can become increasingly more cost-efficient and worthwhile for those who understand how and where to invest. Our study in tablet advertising spanning July – September 2012 across five luxury brands shows the tablet user’s paid search behavior is significantly different from a smart phone user’s, and the most successful brands in tablet advertising will dedicate 10-20% of their desktop budgets to branded keywords on tablets specifically. 



Behavior by tablet users more closely resembles desktop usage than smartphone so we will focus strictly on the comparison of tablet vs. desktop. Including tablet in your “mobile” budgets tends to be too broad to drive actionable insights and results, and budgets split between smartphone and tablet advertising tend to be too small to create a successful campaign.  Approximately 2% of advertiser’s budgets are currently spent on tablet advertising. Considering the opportunity to drive to a mobile-enabled site is more cost-effective on tablets today, advertisers should reconsider their allocation of funds.


Developing tablet-specific benchmarks

Average order sizes and values are higher on tablets than on desktops, possibly due to the relative affluence of the audience. According to Pew, 47% of households with an income greater than $75,000 owned tablets. At the same time, the spend required is lower to qualify success. Considering these factors, ROI for tablets is significantly higher: Tablets saw a 28% higher ROI than desktops. Tablet users also purchase a greater volume of items—often with higher price tags. Tablet targeted campaigns reported a significantly higher AOV—28.66%—than similar campaigns run on desktop.

Negotiating branded vs. non-branded keywords

On tablets, users searching for branded terms tend to click through more often than in the same searches on desktops. Tablets saw a 48.91% increase in CTR on paid search ads. In addition, searches for branded terms on tablets had a lower CPC and higher AOV than similar searches on desktop. This makes branded terms the safest bet for brands looking to run tablet advertising for the first time.

Determining budgets

Advertiser spending on tablets is more efficient, 10.8% less expensive CPC on average.  The tablet advertising space is less crowded because it sees minimal investments from many brands. Without as much demand, high trafficked placements can go for much less than they would in the desktop space. For brands looking to efficiently increase traffic to e-commerce with a smaller budget, tablets should receive a larger percentage of that spend. 

Bringing learnings back to the brand

The tablet landscape presents different challenges than the smaller screens of smartphones and desktop’s crowded ad space. Brands will need to address issues with mobile site optimization before considering tablet advertising, and may need to consider third party development to achieve the luxury feel their advertising requires. 

For brands with a mobile presence, the next step is to set aside a separate budget for branded and non-branded initiatives on tablets. Having a presence for your branded keywords should be your top priority, but as confidence develops, begin cautiously expanding budgets into non-branded campaigns.

Key Takeaways for brands looking to increase SEM efficiencies with tablets

  1. Average Order Value is significantly higher for tablet targeted paid search campaigns

  2. ROI is higher for tablet campaigns

  3. CPC for tablet targeted keywords is typically lower than the same keywords in desktop campaigns
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