One tablet generates as many website visits as four smartphones, according to data from Adobe’s Digital Index Report.

By the end of Q1 2012 smartphones accounted for 6.1% of site visits compared to 4.3% on tablet.

However, smartphones only maintain a greater share of website visits due to the lower penetration rate of tablets.

The report highlights that from 2010 through to 2011 there were 5.3 times more smartphones shipped across North America and Western Europe compared to tablets.

Adobe predicts that at its current rate of growth tablet traffic will surpass smartphone traffic within 12 months.

Within a year of its launch in Q2 2010 the iPad accounted for 1% of total website visits, reaching 4.3% of total visits by the end of 2011.

In contrast, within the first two years of the iPhone market entry, smartphones accounted for 0.4% of total website visits, taking nearly three years to reach 1% of total visits.

If this trend continues then tablets will account for more than 10% of website visits in 2014.

But Adobe’s report isn’t the first piece of research to highlight the growing popularity of tablets.

A recent survey by InMobi and Mobext found that 69% of tablet owners make a purchase on their device every month.

This highlights the fact that e-tailers need to have a tablet strategy in place.

Our comprehensive blog post, ‘tablets: the opportunity for marketers‘, has a number of tips for how advertisers should seek to target tablet users.

However, we should also be careful not to overstate the importance of tablets, as despite similar levels of engagement PCs drive disproportionately more website visits than tablets.

Adobe’s report shows across North America and Western Europe there were six times more PCs shipped than tablets in between 2009 and 2011.

Yet in Q1 2012 PCs accounted for 19 times more website visits.

The reasons for this are fairly obvious – people use PCs all day at work, and most tablet owners will also use a PC for browsing at home.

Adobe report also appears to fail to take into account the millions of PCs in existence before 2009.

Finally, the data shows that tablet users are more likely to use their device to visit certain types of websites.

For example, consumers consider tablets and PCs to be nearly interchangeable for media consumption and for repeated interactions with financial service providers.

“This suggests that consumers consider tablets to be similar to PCs for visits that are repeated, routine, involve passive consumption of content, and so on.”

However, PC conversion rates are much higher than tablet for retail and travel sites, “suggesting that consumers prefer PCs for visits involving research, comparison of alternatives, and online purchasing.”

Adobe’s Digital Index Report presents findings from an analysis of 23bn visits made to more than 325 mobile and traditional brand websites from January to March of 2010, 2011 and 2012.