2013: The Year of the Touchscreen PC

Whether at rest or in motion; whether a tablet or smartphone; these “mobile” devices can behave much like our trusty desktop and journeyman notebook. There is an overemphasis on the usage differences, rather than the commonality across all these devices in terms of content consumption and user activity, perhaps with one major difference in mind: a touchscreen vs. point-and-click content and ad environment.

It’s easy to see how the landscape got so fragmented. There are smartphones, which allow for connectivity on the road; there are tablets, which allow users to access the Internet and carry out many standard PC functions without being tied to a desk at home; and there are connected TVs that let viewers pipe in content from online services such as Netflix and Hulu to their big screen. These devices all have a specific niche and are used in different ways, but as an advertising opportunity there is a common thread, whether in-app or in-browser: the ability to deliver an ad experience personalized and impactful using multi-screen audience intelligence.

It’s particularly easy to get distracted by the tablet. Its main additions to the PC experience are increased portability, apps, and touchscreen functionality. But these are mostly usability tweaks, not material behavioral changes. The core PC experience remains more or less intact, with the main difference being that users can now touch their selections rather than simply point and click. To surround your audience with an immersive, coordinated ad experience, no matter what the device, marketers must embrace the “touchscreen” opportunity for ads, just as app creators have. This is thinking “touchscreen” first, not necessarily “mobile” first.

According to a study conducted by the Interactive Advertising Bureau and ABI Research, ads that appear on touchscreen devices have some of the highest engagement levels in the digital space, with 47 percent of tablet users and 25 percent of smartphone users saying they engage with ads more than once a week. In short, to connect the entire “PC” advertising landscape with a data-driven, connected plan vs. a disconnected, siloed approach, brands must dynamically identify device and touchscreen functionality and deliver the optimized creative experience, but with the knowledge and application of ad activity and audience engagement across all digital devices.

“Touchability” should take center stage for marketers – not only where thumbs and fingers naturally rest on these devices, but how to inspire people to engage with your creative in this personal way in point-and-click screens. This requires a change in thinking in creative design and technology to detect and dynamically deliver across the entire multi-screen landscape. In and of itself, the touchscreen engenders a much closer bond between consumers and advertisers than standard point-and-click interactions. It is up to advertisers to encourage this engagement on their end of the conversation.

While many called 2012 the “year of the tablet,” and many more are doing the same for 2013, such a view misses the point. Instead, we need to broaden the definition of a PC to include everything from the connected TV in the living room to the smartphone in your pocket. Advertisers already know that touchscreen technology is good for business, increasing interactivity and drawing viewers into the online advertising experience. Luckily, these benefits will not require advertisers to relearn their entire trade, just broaden their definition of display advertising and the personalization of the creative experience across devices.

Touchscreen image on home page via Shutterstock. 

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