Tablets Pass Smartphones In Global Website Traffic, Will Marketers Respond?

According to Adobe's marketing group tablet growth is outpacing that of smartphones. This trend also showed up in several Q4 reports from other online marketing firms such as Marin Software. 

Adobe says that on a global basis, mobile devices (smartphones + tablets) generated 15% of all internet traffic. Of that 15%, tablets edged smartphones with 8% of traffic. The company also says that tablet users spend much more time and are much more engaged than smartphone users: "on aver­age inter­net users view 70% more pages per visit when brows­ing with a tablet com­pared to a smartphone." 

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Among the countries measured, the UK is seeing the highest share of internet traffic from tablets followed by the US and Canada. 

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ComScore previously reported that about 36% of total US internet time is being spent on mobile devices, even though they're generating less than that in terms of overall traffic. Part of the reason for such a discrepancy may be apps, which are often not measured but where "9 out of 10" mobile minutes are spent. 

While 6 and 7-inch tablets exist somewhere between a smartphone and a full-sized tablet (i.e., iPad Classic), tablets are increasingly replacement devices for PCs. PCs still have the largest installed base and a home in the enterprise, among business users and for more selected purposes in the home. But the centrality of the PC as the gateway to the internet is over.

Using Gartner data, USAToday chronicled the decline of PC sales (which aren't coming back): 

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The "problem" with tablets is that many marketers treat them like PCs (including Google AdWords) and don't give them special attention. A study released in Q4 last year found, for example, that only 7% of retailers' websites were tablet friendly.

Yet tablet-app mobile ad creative can be very effective. In general tablet ads (in apps) are much more engaging than smartphone ads right now.

As tablets continue to gain momentum as PC replacements we may see a very odd situation develop. That is: smartphones might be given perfunctory treatment as an ad platform or otherwise neglected in favor of tablets with their larger "canvas." However, as suggested, the bulk of marketers may treat tablets like PCs and not address them with specialized ad units.

Accordingly, as mobile devices take more and more consumer time and engagement "online advertising" could become considerably weaker than it is today.