Advertisers and agencies need to allocate more of their paid-search budgets to capitalise on the explosion of tablet devices, according to experts.

Brands including Sky and moneysupermarket.com believe advertisers must start realigning their search strategies to capitalise on the fast-accelerating adoption of tablet devices.

Their comments follow the release of Marin Software’s Quarterly Benchmarking report, which found click-through rates on paid-search ads are over a third (37%) higher on tablet devices than on PCs or smartphones (nma.co.uk 14 October 2011).

This is despite the fact that of the 800 advertisers and agencies worldwide who took part in the report, the majority of spend (93%) goes toward PC-based search marketing.

Sky’s online marketing manager Helen Southgate said the broadcaster has been monitoring the rise of tablet adoption closely. “There is a growing trend of increased searches across mobile and specifically tablets,” she said. “We saw a step change, for example, when the iPad 2 was launched, so further tablet developments will drive more searches from tablets.”

However, advertisers should be wary of cannibalising their web traffic, which could arise as a result of the accelerating adoption of tablets, according to Southgate. “While some of this traffic is incremental, much of it will be a cannibalisation of PC traffic as people shift to use their tablets instead desktop PCs,” she said. “It is therefore vital for advertisers to have a solid mobile strategy and shift relevant budget in this area to ensure that they capitalise on this traffic.”

Head of search and biddable media at moneysupermarket.com Andy Mihalop said the Marin results were not surprising given the scale of tablet penetration. “An average of 10% of our overall volume of search comes via smartphone and tablet devices now and it’s increasing,” he said.

He added advertisers cannot afford to ignore the rise of mobile and tablet adoption and must be quick to establish ad strategies to take advantage of the subsequent opportunities.

“Advertisers need to scrutinise from which devices their volume of searches are coming and then examine whether the consumer journey and intent is different on a PC to a tablet or smartphone,” he said.

Media agency Media Contact’s head of performance Darren Goldie said the rise of tablet penetration demands a “transformation” in ad strategies, requiring an “undeniable shift” in budgets towards tablets.

“Tablets are very much a personal experience and present higher engagement levels with potential customers,” he said. “Currently, the penetration rate of tablets is around 5%, as reported by Nielsen, and this will only increase. Brands will need to anticipate this changing consumer behaviour and alter marketing communications to align with tablet-optimised websites. The end of the traditional fixed PC era is near and tablets are here to stay.”  

Media agency OMD Group UK’s chief digital officer Paul Wright said it is vital advertisers and agencies have a separate search strategy for tablets. “We are adapting all our search strategies for mobile devices, and agencies in general need to start shifting their search spend to meet the mass adoption of tablet devices,” he said.

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Published 21 October, 2011 by NMA Staff

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