February 19th, 2013 | 3 MIN READ

The Case for Tablet Targeted Ad Campaigns

Written by author_profile_images Linda Bustos

Linda is an ecommerce industry analyst and consultant specializing in conversion optimization and digital transformation.

Google AdWords' Enhanced Campaigns rollout lumps tablets with desktops, leaving smartphones the only device in the mobile category. Google states the move is data-based, that search behavior on tablets is more similar to desktop than smartphones.

While Enhanced Campaigns aims to offer advertisers more bidding options and metrics for smartphone targeting, many are mourning the loss of control over tablet-targeted campaigns. Who will this affect most and what workarounds exist?

Who will miss tablet targeting

Advertisers with tablet-specific products Yes, this is a Captain Obvious point, but paid content, software, gaming and other products (like accessories) intended for download or use with specific devices are going to suffer most.

Here’s what previous targeting options were like, including OS, manufacturer, device and even wireless carrier:

Though operating system targeting generally will no longer be available, Google is making an exception for click-to-download ads. A Google spokesperson saysthe advertiser would tell us which app they want to promote and then we’ll make sure to only show it on the devices that can download it.”

Any marketer who wants to segment

Search and click through may be similar between tablets and desktop, but landing pages are what make money for advertisers. Responsive design is great, but what if you could craft the optimal iPad landing page that doesn’t require scrolling, or even takes advantage of gestures for touch screens? This change forces marketers to use the same landing page for desktop and tablet users, or employ device detection and dynamic content to serve a tablet optimized landing page.

Some advertisers recognize iPad owners as a unique segment with different spending habits, for example Orbitz ranked pricier hotels for Mac and iPad users. Though some may question the ethics of the merchandising strategy, it's possible iPad users are more satisfied seeing more premium accommodation suggested (not everyone only cares for lowest price). This is just one example of how the iPad user segment might be romanced. Enhanced Campaigns doesn't allow for tablet-specific ad groups, but with device detection and redirection on the advertiser's end, targeted landing page content can still be served.

Advertisers with strong tablet ROI

Several studies show tablets convert higher from paid search than desktop, and smartphones lower. For example, Adobe found 20% higher conversion for tablets, and 42% poorer for smartphones vs. desktop, with tablets also enjoying 30% lower cost per click (thanks to less competition). With tablets lumped in with desktop, up goes the ad competition, and likely CPCs as well as click through rates dilute.

Advertisers without optimized tablet experiences

Responsive design or device targeting / serving landing pages is more important than ever -- now you can't exclude tablets from your campaigns, and a poor experience on tablets (bounces) will drag your campaign performance down, hurt your ad positions and drive your cost per click up. Get on it.

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