Taking Tablets to Bed Changing the Way We Shop

Tablets are changing the way we use the internet – and marketers need to figure out how to track their contribution to the bottom line, according to Efficient Frontier.

A study of 3 billion monthly impressions representing more than 30 customers of the digital marketing company showed that tablet usage now accounts for half of all clicks via mobile devices. In the retail sector, 77 percent of all mobile traffic now comes from tablets.

The cost per click on mobile phones was 108 percent of desktop search, but tablet CPCs were only 85 percent compared to desktop. This represents an opportunity for marketers. Click-through rates for mobile phones and tablets are 166 percent and 137 percent that of desktop, respectively.

While many reports say the cost per click tends to be lower on mobiles than on PCs, it’s higher among Efficient Frontier’s customers, according to Siddharth Shah, senior director of business analytics. “Our advertisers tend to be metrics-driven, performance-focused advertisers,” Shah said on a conference call. On the other hand, “many mobile advertisers are brand advertisers, and CPCs on these tend to be lower.”

On the call, David Karnstedt, CEO of Efficient Frontier, noted important differences in usage between mobile phones and tablets. Mobile phone usage peaks around 7 p.m., desktops peak at 8 p.m.; and tablet usage peaks at 10 p.m.

“This reflects the different contexts and purposes of the devices,” Karnstedt said. “People are increasingly fragmented in how they spend time online, even as total online time increases.”

Conversion rates on tablets are now comparable to that of desktop search. Nevertheless, return on investment for search on mobile devices, while climbing, remains less than half of desktop search.

Because consumers tend to use multiple devices during the purchase cycle, attribution will become even more difficult and more important. Because users often research on a mobile device and then buy from the desktop or from a retail location, the ROI on mobile campaigns looks worse than it actually is, Shah said.

“Many advertisers still think of ROI in terms of pure revenue, but many mobile searches lead to a store visit or further research on a PC,” he said. “Platforms need to grow a tracking structure to track users across devices. Google+ and Facebook will, I think, provide advertisers with the means of actually showing how people interacted across devices.”

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