‘Tablet audiences still too small, and not catered for effectively’

A lack of quality ad formats and the only relatively recent consumer uptake of tablet devices is preventing brand advertising budgets from being spent on mobile devices, according to panellists at today’s (3 October) AOP conference. 

Tablet Samsung iPad

Representatives from Facebook, IPC Media and mobile specialist agency Somo, collectively made the claims during a panel session this morning addressing the complicated issue of publishers monetising their mobile audiences.

Their thoughts come despite recent study from eMarketer demonstrated that approximately a third of the UK population now uses tablets at least once a month, although this figure includes individuals that own their own tablet as well as people who share a tablet with family members or others. However, eMarketer, estimated this audience to reach 34.8 per cent of the population by 2017.

Ed Couchman, Facebook UK sales manager, told attendees that brands looking to reach audiences on mobile devices in the short term at any significant degree of scale should focus their efforts on smartphone users, not tablet users. 

He said: “Brands looking for scale don’t focus on tablets too much… there still isn’t enough scale… in the short term we need to make it easy for agencies looking for reach to buy on.”

During the same session, Ross Sleight, chief strategy officer at mobile and social specialist agency Somo, explained that while tablet owners are considered a desirable demographic for advertisers, the limited variety of ad formats prevented his clients from spending a significant amount campaign budget on tablet devices.

He said: “[Advertising on] mobile doesn’t increase brand awareness, but it does increase propensity to purchase. 

“The tablet experience is a lean back one and similar to TV, and as an advertiser you want to have things like video ads, but there’s not a lot [of quality or variety] out there.”

This, combined with the lack of effective cross-device tracking available on mobile devices, means it is often difficult to justify a significant amount of spend on mobile devices, he said.

Fellow panellist, Neil Robinson, IPC digital director, added: “I don’t think we [the publishing industry as a whole] have the right methods of tracking.

“We’re just porting our content on to mobile from the web, [but] we need to think about the context of mobile and think about providing mobile experiences.”

Separately, Tim Cain, AOP head of research and insights, presented findings from the AOP Content and Trends Census 2013, indicating publishers need to put more effort into retaining control over their first-party data.

The findings showed 36 per cent of publishers believe agency demands for their first-party data posed the biggest challenge to the industry, and simply surrendering it to third parties made monetising mobile audiences even more difficult.

He said: “It’s all about advertising accountability. As buying becomes increasingly automated publishers could lose control.

“This year’s Census shows they are finally acknowledging the role data can play at helping them to retain control.”

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