Heavy Tablet Users Respond More Positively to Ads, Survey Shows

IPad owners more receptive to ads than Android users

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Whether in the subway, airplane or living room, tablet users have gone from being a rarity to a frequent presence over the past two years. But as tablet use explodes, tablet advertising lags behind, even though many users of the devices show more willingness to interact with the ads, a new study shows.

Last March, the Online Publishers Association collected data from 2,540 U.S. Internet users between the ages of 8 and 64. Its resulting study, released today, found that 31 percent of that population owns or regularly uses a tablet, up from 12 percent in 2011. By next year, the OPA estimates that that portion will have risen to 47 percent. People are also interacting regularly with their tablet; 74 percent said they use a tablet at least once a day, and tablet users average nearly 14 hours a week on their device.

Tablet users, it appears, are overwhelmingly willing to pay for content. Fully 61 percent said that they’ve purchased content like e-books, magazines or video, while 72 percent have paid for apps. That market has nearly doubled in the past year. An estimated $2.6 billion was spent on apps in the past 12 months, up from $1.4 billion in the year-ago period. “This is good for publishers because although audience has grown, they’re just as willing to open their wallets,” said OPA president Pam Horan.

As tablet usage has grown, Apple's hold over the market has diminished somewhat, OPA found, confirming earlier research. In 2011, 72 percent of tablet owners had an iPad while only 32 percent owned an Android-powered tablet. Now, those numbers are nearly even, with 52 percent owning an iPad and 51 percent owning an Android. (However, given that the study was done right after the release of the iPad 3, Horan estimated that a wave of customers buying the latest Apple product would push the company's share closer to 60 percent.)

With an expanded base of tablet users, the OPA broke out two segments: people who multitask on two or three screens while using their tablet and people who have purchased content on their tablets. The OPA found that people in both segments responded more positively to tablet ads and were likelier to take action (such as clicking on the ad or making a purchase) than those who interacted less with their tablets, according to the study. Additionally, iPad tablet owners had a slightly more positive attitude toward advertising than did Android owners.

“To me, this was almost counterintuitive because you’d think that this would be an audience that is potentially jaded when it comes to advertising in general,” said Horan. “This tells marketers that they have an opportunity to really leverage tablet campaigns in a way that they haven’t to date.”

With lack of standardization in measuring tablet usage and a still relatively small user base, advertisers have been reluctant to allocate a significant amount of money toward the platform. Horan argued that it’s worth the effort to include tablet advertising when launching a cross-platform campaign. “We see these great attitudes toward advertising and buying products in certain segments of tablet users,” said Horan. “Ultimately, the tablet can really support and be part of those campaigns.”

@adweekemma emma.bazilian@adweek.com Emma Bazilian is Adweek's features editor.