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For Ad Clicks, Tablets Outperform Smartphones

Industries with attractive, rich visual content outperform on tablets by widest margin

Tablets are in the hands of an increasing share of high-value consumers worldwide. And as a result, more mobile ad dollars are going toward the devices. Mobile ad-buying platform Adfonic found that tablets’ share of mobile ads served on its network climbed from 9% in Q2 2012 to 14% at the end of Q4 2012.

And as the inventory of tablet ads expands, ad placements on the high-resolution, interactive devices are proving their worth.

Examining the performance of ads on smartphones vs. tablets, Adfonic found that tablet ads performed better across a range of metrics and industries in December 2012. Branding campaigns, in particular, garnered 250% higher clickthrough rates on tablets vs. smartphones. This makes sense given the larger screen size of tablets and their natural marriage with rich content that drives brand awareness. But even direct-response campaigns performed better on tablets than smartphones, though the margin was not as high as with branding campaigns.

Further proving the value of tablets for those industries employing rich visual content, the style and fashion, as well as lifestyle and health categories each saw clickthrough rates double on tablets. In addition, clickthrough rates for entertainment and media, as well as the travel category rose by 81% and 66%, respectively.

CTR Uplift for Tablet* Ads Served Worldwide by Adfonic, by Industry, Dec 2012

However, there were certain industries that got fewer clicks on tablets vs. smartphones, including legal and automotive. Somewhat more surprising, the absolute worst performers on tablets vs. smartphones were the fast-moving consumer goods and retail industry, along with the social and dating category.

Entertainment and media is a particularly significant player in the mobile ad market. Adfonic found in Q4 2012 that it accounted for two out of five mobile ad dollars. With the industry’s considerable ad performance on tablets, it’s likely that an increasing share of these mobile dollars will move to tablets.

Technology, which took the next greatest percentage of mobile dollars, performed about equally on tablets vs. smartphones.

Mobile Ad Spending Share Worldwide from Ads Served by Adfonic, by Vertical, Q4 2012 (% of total)

Even as the numbers tell a strong story about tablets, their impressive performance must be taken with a grain of salt. Tablets are among the newest devices on the market, and advertising tends to see an uptick in performance as consumers encounter new formats and iterations.

Along with uptake of tablets, the introduction of real-time bidding (RTB) platforms has had a considerable impact on the mobile ad market. Adfonic found that while less than 10% of mobile ads served were purchased via RTBs in Q1 2012, that share climbed to nearly two-thirds in Q4.

Mobile Real-Time Bidding (RTB) Ad Requests Served Worldwide by Adfonic, Q1-Q4 2012 (% of total)

eMarketer estimated in December 2012 that mobile ad spending worldwide reached $8.41 billion last year, or 8.2% of total digital ad spending worldwide. By 2016, mobile ad spending will account for 22.6% of digital spend. An increasing share of these dollars will go to tablets and be purchased through RTB platforms.

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