Don’t lump tablets in with
mobile. That’s the takeaway of a new Forrester study looking at how people use tablets differently than smartphones and how marketing efforts should accordingly be tailored to each device. But a
one-size fits all approach won’t work.
“The context in which people user their tablets dictates a unique marketing approach,” argues analyst Thomas Husson in the Forrester report, based on a survey of more than 13,000 consumers. Tablets are being used primarily at home, with 67% of U.S. tablet owners access them in the living room, and 57% in the bedroom.
Nearly a third of U.S. online adults with a laptop, smartphone and a tablet are multtasking more than half the time while watching TV, compared to only 22% of online consumers on average. People are more likely to browse the Web, research products, or watch other online video while also watching TV.
In Europe, 68% of online adults are browsing the Web with their tablet, while 39% use it to research products, and 29% to make purchases. Other popular activities include checking email (64%), viewing pictures (51%), and watching video (39%).
Tablets are used mainly in lean-back mode at home, for two-screen viewing, consuming media and as e-commerce tools. Smartphones, by contrast, are used both on-the-go and at home, for communication and content-snacking, and apps. They’re also considered more personal devices than tablets, less likely to be shared.
What does that mean for marketers?
Among the recommendations offered in the report was for brands and businesses to use search marketing on tablets to drive higher conversion rates. “Paid search ads will drive more conversions than comparable ads on PCs or smartphones,” he wrote, citing data from Marin Software showing tablet conversion rates increased 31% through 2012, and on pace to top desktops this year.
The report also encouraged marketers to create immersive experiences for people accessing the “lazy Internet.” Tablets go beyond search offer new ways for people to discover content through rich-content apps, such as Flipboard.
Executives at brands including Citi, The New York Times and CareerBuilder seemed to acknowledge the point at an OMMA Mobile panel on Wednesday. “When we did our iPad app at Citi, we actually created an entirely different experience that leveraged graphics …we also put more content there than in any of our other channels,” explained Tracey Weber, head of Internet and mobile banking, at Citi.
Beyond apps, she emphasized the importance of developing a browser-based experience tailored to tablets and touchscreen interaction to avoid frustrating customers.
The Forrester study also suggested that marketers capitalize on two-screen viewing by working with social TV services like Shazam, GetGlue and zeebox to make TV ads more engaging for people through tablet extensions. “Tablet apps could also evolve to become TV apps, bringing the power and richness of large display surfaces to consumer computing,” wrote Husson.
Brands in the health, security, insurance, food and consumer electronics categories can look at ways to create tablet-specific products that will let people use the devices to control their lives. Just adding videos and tutorials to a tablet app or tablet-optimized site are good ways to set it apart what users get through the desktop or smartphone.
The report advises marketers to use analytics tools to understand the differences between smartphone and tablet users, and monitor how their tablet audience evolves as the devices become more mainstream. It projects the installed base of tablet users will grow from 288 million this year to 738 million in 2017.
While tablet penetration globally will only reach 13% in four years, it will hit 50% in key markets including the U.S. and the U.K. by then.