No doubt about it -- tablets have become the darling this year of media buyers and planners. It is one area of device-based advertising where the CPM’s remain robust, and just about every usage metric supports this market confidence in showing the platform's extraordinary engagement. In just a few short years, millions of American living rooms have turned into two-screen experiences, often with noses and eyes pointed downward into the iPad screen and various levels of attention being given to the TV. Prime time is tablet time, and most of the early research shows that the majority of the behaviors between the two screens is asynchronous.
And so it is not surprising, but still worth noting, that the first set of benchmarking metrics on ad performance from long-time campaign measurement company InsightExpress confirms many of our suppositions about the tablet’s unique levels of engagement with consumers at just the time when many of them want to be engaged.
The company aggregated brand metric performance from 43 campaigns on tablets and found that in every common category, the platform had noticeable to striking effects. In basic ad recognition metrics, for instance, 23% of those exposed to a tablet campaign demonstrated unaided brand awareness compared to 14% in the control group, with a delta of 9%.
The most dramatic brand lift occurred in the tablet ad awareness category, where 54% noticed and remembered the ad compared to 13% in the control group, with a delta of 41%. This metric is especially important for advertisers looking to rise above the invisibility barrier in digital advertising. Of course, this is still an emerging platform, and there is a novelty element that is fueling some of this.
More than a few of us tap on tablet ads just to see what is there. But even if this is a part of the equation, it also speaks to a set of expectations that the consumer brings to tablet advertising. They may, in fact, be looking in the space for something creative and different. And this can only be an open invitation for advertisers to take advantage of consumer openness to being engaged and entertained.
Tablet performance was also quite strong across these campaigns in message association, which registered with 42% of those exposed -- a lift of 18% over control. Brand favorability had a 12% lift, while purchase intent had 13% over control.
It is interesting that in some cases tablet advertising is not shown to be that much more effective than ads on mobile phones. For instance, in comparing 43 tablet campaigns to 271 smartphone campaigns, InsightExpress finds that unaided brand awareness was affected at the same levels on both platforms -- 9% -- while aided awareness was actually higher on mobile, at 7% versus 5% on tablets. '
There were superior lifts on tablets for lower-funnel activity like message association (15% on mobile versus 18% on tablets), brand favorability (8% on mobile versus 12% on tablets), and purchase intent (11% on mobile versus 13% on tablets), but not by much.
InsightExpress notes that some of these mixed results in comparing mobile and tablet may relate to the different kinds of messaging that each platform carries. Smartphone display ads often rely simply on a logo and catchphrase and so are communicating general branding all the time. On tablets, however, messaging can be more complex and so the branding effects can be less straightforward.
Since we know that smartphones and tablets sometimes occupy very different contexts, comparing the brand lifts between campaigns is probably not granular enough to understand what processes are going on here. If anything, the lower-funnel effectiveness of mobile phones is encouraging and may be occurring for very different reasons from the lifts the tablet advertising gets. But this only goes to show how complex metrics have become with untethered devices.
Anticipating and understanding the physical and psychological contexts in which ads are being seen becomes critical in determining why message had a particular effect at a particular time, with a particular audience, on a particular device.