With the arrival of the iPad, publishers and advertisers breathed a sigh of relief. Finally, there was a device so beautiful and large that ads could once again capture readers’ attention. “Digital banner blindness”, our ability to ignore the multitude of banner ads on a webpage, could be combated by creating gorgeous, full-screen ads designed for the lean-back tablet reading experience. Two-and-a-half years after the iPad’s debut, new research from Pew and The Economist Group suggests that tablet ads are more effective than online ads, but perhaps not to the extent that the publishing and advertising industries may have hoped.
The study found that about half of all tablet news consumers notice ads when reading news on their device. Given that we’ve grown quite skilled at ignoring desktop ads, 50 percent of news readers even noticing ads on their tablet is impressive. However, the number of people who actually engage with an ad is much smaller. Only 14 percent of the 50 percent of people who notice ads click on them, which, if my math is correct, puts the total percentage of tablet news users who say they click on tablet ads at 7 percent.
While these figures may seem small, they are much larger than average click-through rates on desktop banner ads. Estimates on the effectiveness of display ads vary, from click-through rates as “high” as .08 percent to as low as .02 percent. The click-through rates of ads on Facebook are said to be around .05 percent. Placed in that context, the tablet click-through and purchase rates (which are self-reported, so perhaps not directly comparable) seem enormous.
Yet despite the success of tablet ads, questions for the future remain. In the early days of banner ads, click-through rates were much higher. But as banner blindness set in, the numbers dropped. Could our attention to tablet ads also wane as tablets become more commonplace?
What’s more, given that 46 percent of people reported not liking ads on any device, publishers and advertisers might use this opportunity to move beyond the traditional ad. At our recent Advertising Week panel, Jane Barratt, the chief operation officer for mcgarrybowen international, agreed that publishers and advertisers need to think outside the box when it came to tablet ads.
“The tablet is the perfect advertising medium”, Barratt said. “It has all of the wonderful immediacy of print, all of the interactivity digital and all of the immersiveness and emotions of audio/visual”. But the device is really “more about content than an ad placement vehicle”.
Though click-through rates are higher on tablets than banner ads, new types of ads — ones focused on content and interactivity — have the potential to increase engagement even more. In an upcoming post, I’ll explore some examples of effective, creative tablet ads. If you already have some in mind, please comment in the space below.
Tags: agencies, iPads, metrics, news, Pew, tablet