Smartphones and Tablets, Though Mobile, Require Separate Ad Approach

According to an industry analysis by Adobe Digital Index, mobile devices have changed the way consumers interact with businesses, making an understanding of the trends, strengths, and weaknesses of both tablets and smartphones important in serving mobile customers. Another perspective in the ongoing and growing interest in mobile marketing and advertising. In just three years, says the report, tablets have overtaken smartphones in the amount of traffic they drive.

Tablet versus smartphone growth  

  • Globally, websites are getting more traffic from tablets  than smartphones
  • Internet users view 70% more pages per visit when  browsing on a tablet vs. a smartphone
  • While tablet and smartphone consumers are both mobile users tablet users actually behave more like PC users in the way they  browse and engage

Consumers all over the world are trying tablets  for the first time. Internet users in western  countries have adopted tablets rapidly, while  their counterparts in Asia prefer to browse  via smartphone.

  • Smartphone traffic is similar between the U.S. and the U.K., but tablet traffic is much higher in the U.K.
  • U.K. Internet surfers are more likely to browse through both a  tablet and smartphone than their German and French counterparts
  • In Japan and China, smartphones remain the browsing device of choice
  • Consumers use their various mobile devices differently, emphasizing the need to optimize sites for both the smartphone and tablet experiences

Mobile Surfing Internet Users (% of Internet Surfers Country)




























Source: Adobe Digital Index, April 2013

Consumers’ preferences for tablets versus smartphones vary depending on the type of site they’re visiting, says the report. When shopping on retail and e-commerce sites, users prefer tablets. Telecom and media sites tend to be frequented more often by smartphone users.

  • Retail websites get the most tablet traffic followed by auto and  travel & hospitality sites
  • Conversely, consumers prefer their smartphone when visiting  both telecom and media & entertainment sites 
  • As tablets get smaller and smartphones get bigger, marketers need to rely less on screen size and more on cues like connection type (Wi-Fi vs. cellular) and referral source to determine the best web experience to offer

Even as sales of Android devices increase, iOS  has reemerged as the operating system most  often used for browsing in the U.S., says the report.

  • Today, iOS accounts for 49% of smartphone  browsing in the U.S.
  • Android accounts for 45% of smartphone browsing.
  • Over the last 12 months, RIM slid from a 5% to a 1%  share of visits in the U.S., while Windows maintained its 1% share.

In five of the six countries studied, Apple  and Samsung devices accounted for the majority  of smartphone website traffic. Japan was the  only outlier.

  • From February 2012 to February 2013, the share of online visits  from Samsung devices has grown at the expense of other manufacturers who produce Android-based devices 
  • No manufacturer besides Samsung and Apple has gained  more than a 1% market share in the U.S. in the last year
  • In Japan, its DoCoMo, not Samsung, that accounts for  significant percentage of mobile visits, closely rivaling Apple

When it comes to browsing on tablets, Apple has a commanding lead in all six of the countries studied.

  • iOS dominates tablet browsing with over 77% of the share  in the six countries measured, and continues to increase its share of tablet visits
  • In the U.S., iOS grew by nearly 10% year-over-year with the  release of the iPad 3 in March 2012, and iPad 4 and Mini in  November 2012

Publishers of digital print content are enjoying steady growth in readership due in part to release of new devices and further adoption  of digital magazines. From August 2012 to February 2013, there was a 200% average growth in readers of digital publishing apps. Most digital magazine consumers read with tablets, says the report. Tablet use leads to more frequent, in-depth, and longer reading sessions compared to smartphones. 75% of reading sessions occur on tablets, and 23% on smartphones. When compared to smartphone readers, tablet readers:

  • Open their app twice as often per month
  • Read three times as many pages each time they read

Mobile video consumption is on the rise. By Q4 2012, mobile video starts, including both smartphones and tablets, have tripled year over year and currently account for over 10% of total digital video starts.

  • Video starts on smartphones tripled year over year from 2011 to 2012
  • Tablet video consumption slightly outpaced smartphones in  video starts
  • The growing mobile audience provides incremental engagement and revenue opportunities for advertising. Tablet viewers, in particular, are early adopters who typically spend more money, book more trips, and consume more media content.

Mobile accounts for a growing share of social media engagement. Mobile consumers like the strides Facebook is making to improve the user experience  on smartphones and tablets.

  • One third of all likes on Facebook now occur via a mobile device.  
  • After a slight dip at the end of 2012, the mobile share of Facebook  “likes” jumped 56% between December 2012 and January 2013.
  • Mobile and social go hand in hand, so mobile specific offers on social media channels to reinforce this natural affinity, opines the report

When shopping online, consumers use tablets like a PC to compare products and make the purchase. They use smartphones for quick references like price checks and finding store locations.

  • Conversion rates on tablets are three times greater  than on smartphones.
  • Tablet conversion rates still don’t match those of PCs.
  • Differences in conversion rates point to the use cases shoppers have in mind when they choose to use a tablet or a smartphone. All mobile visits are not the same, concludes the report

To learn more about the State of the Mobile Internet from Adobe, please visit here.


1 comment about "Smartphones and Tablets, Though Mobile, Require Separate Ad Approach".
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  1. George Lanzaro from Marchex, Inc, May 23, 2013 at 2:57 p.m.

    Comments from the OMMA Mobile Conference yesterday directly address this. We don't create ads for the vast array of TV sizes? Its not about the device, its about the way people use them, their behavior. It's a mad, mad multi-device world! As the article points out, some devices have inherent advantages over the other- based upon what the use is trying to accomplish with them. Want to search and speak to a qualified expert- use the smartphone. Want to research your next vacation spot- use a tablet.

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