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iPad Users Shopping Like Traditional Computer Users

The iPad launched just a little over two months ago with Steve Jobs heralding the device as a new “third category” between laptop computers and smartphones.  The less generous derided the iPad as little more than a giant iPod Touch.  For the online advertiser though, the key question is where user behavior places the iPad.

We’ve noted previously that, for the same ad, conversion rates tend to be significantly lower on mobile devices, even on top smartphones like the iPhone and those running the Android OS.  We offered several common sense explanations including that the relatively tiny screens of mobile phones are just too much of a barrier to completing a purchase.

Our data suggests iPad users behave much more like traditional desktop and laptop users than mobile users when it comes to online shopping:

For our largely retail clients, iPad traffic converted at 86% of the rate of desktop/laptop traffic in May 2010.  At the same time, even though Apple has sold over 2 million units to date, iPad traffic, for the time-being, remains dwarfed by traditional computers and mobile devices.

We’ve recommended parsing out mobile PPC traffic to allow for bid differentiation from better performing traffic before and Google has commendably made this a fairly simple process in their campaign settings:

Very shortly after the iPad debut, Google offered up the ability to specifically target the iPad.  I’m sure to Steve Jobs’ dismay, it is lumped with other top mobile devices rather than given a more venerated third classification, but the capability exists nonetheless.

Given conversion rates, it would clearly be a mistake to parse out the iPad with mobile devices as Google’s settings seem to favor.  Instead, iPad traffic is better grouped with traditional computer traffic.  Depending on your needs, it may make sense to parse out the iPad by itself, but current traffic levels probably don’t justify that quite yet.

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  • Mark Ballard
    Mark Ballard is Director of Research at RKG.
  • Comments
    16 Responses to “iPad Users Shopping Like Traditional Computer Users”
    1. I’m not too much into the PPC side of things myself and was wondering what your thoughts are on people using mobile devices (excluding iPad) to research a product on the train to work, note the price and website of a deal they like then logging onto their computer at work to make the actual purchase.

    2. Mark Ballard Mark Ballard says:

      Research is likely a big part of the mobile traffic we see. The problem is assigning a value to this traffic if we cannot accurately tie it to the order. I’ve seen a few analysts predicting mobile traffic will surpass desktop in just the next few years and, without a robust resolution to the attribution issue, this presents a real dilemma for PPC advertisers accustomed to a more precise view of their ads’ effectiveness.

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