Tablet Ad Campaigns: Key Considerations

By Celtra


Celtra’s Jonathan Milne was recently featured in the IAB Tablet Buyers Guide. He identifies several key considerations when planning, designing, and executing tablet advertising campaigns …

Celtra’s Jonathan Milne was recently featured in the IAB Tablet Buyers Guide. He identifies several key considerations when planning, designing, and executing tablet advertising campaigns. 


Integrate your tablet strategy into the marketing mix

Tablets are highly complementary with other media so tablet strategies shouldn’t be developed in isolation but integrated with the rest of the media plan. For marketers this creates highly synergistic opportunities to program relevant or related messages on multiple platforms including tablets, print, online and TV. It’s essential to include the tablet component as early as possible in the planning process and coordinate it with the rest of the campaign.

Screen size matters

When planning your campaign, consider the differences between smartphones and tablets. Smartphones have smaller screens and ad formats sizes are smaller, so creative is more effective when it is fast loading, easy to read and includes location-based information with clear calls to action. For tablets, screen real estate and ad format sizes are larger than phones, allowing for longer, more advanced creative executions.

Consider multiple use cases

Tablet usage patterns are important to consider when planning a tablet strategy. Tablets are typically used in the evenings, at home, with a Wi-Fi connection, when users are more relaxed and have more time to concentrate. Users are willing to spend more time on ads and as a result have come to expect higher quality creative executions. Because tablets are more often used in the home, location based features are less relevant than with smartphone ads, which are optimised for users who are “out and about.” More artistic, leisure based advertising works best.

Create ads specific to tablets and publishers 

Tablets have been a game changer for premium publishers allowing them to deliver truly engaging experiences that can be monetized in new ways. Tablet experiences combine the dynamic and interactive capabilities of the web, with the style and sophistication of print.  Rather than repurposing online or TV ads, advertisers should create ads specific to tablets and the apps/sites in which they reside.

Take into account multiple screens

Simultaneous use of tablets while watching TV is on the rise. Ads that achieve ‘cross-screen viewership’, meaning they were seen on televisions and tablets, make a deeper impression with consumers and can be more effective. Cross platform campaigns give consumers an immediate call to action that’s not always available when advertising on TV alone.


Understand standard ad format sizes

One of the most important decisions is which tablet ad formats to use. Half, quarter and full-page ad formats are effective for driving brand awareness and fit well with magazine style apps or websites. If a media buy is across multiple publishers, using specific ad sizes that work across all of them can save development time and cost.

Full page ads: Many Publishers are selling full-screen ads. Full page ads should include two formats, one for landscape and one for portrait viewing. Full page ad formats can vary, with some publishers reserving space at the top or bottom of the screen for navigation or other purposes. Standard ad units – 1024×50, 768×50, 728×90, 300×250 px have become fairly common banner sizes for tablets. Recommended expanded ad unit sizes include 768×916, 1024×660 and 768×660 px, as they are geared to the tablet screen size and allow for a great user experience.

Switching between portrait and landscape modes

It is important to note that tablets’ screen orientations change and can be used in either portrait or landscape mode and users change from one to the other at will.  Ads that work in both modes typically garner the better results as many publishers are locking orientations.

Take into account the retina display

The iPad 3’s retina display transforms the iPad experience.  Optimizing specific features of an ad such as logos, icons, buttons, and text creates a premium look that is appealing to consumers.  Be mindful that only a select set of features should be optimised for the retina display so that you can be sure to keep your ad weight optimised.

Understand the effectiveness of rich media

Many advertisers and publishers have moved beyond the traditional static banner ad offering rich capabilities such as video, photo galleries, gamification and social media to enable immersive and  engaging experiences.   As your tablet campaign gets underway, consider how the ad‘s features will  influence the user’s experience.  For example, consider the touch driven environment and include  features such as swiping, pinching, rotating and tilting to drive consumer interaction. Thinking about the user experience early in the process typically leads to creative with greater engagement and appeal.

Design the add to fit with the app or web experience

There are hundreds of thousands of tablet apps and the number of tablet-optimized web sites is  growing fast.  Whether a game, magazine, video, utility or social property, the app type will affect the  types of ad units offered and the user’s willingness to interact with those ads.   It’s important to consider the media plan when thinking about the creative and to consider the ad’s features when developing the media plan.


Balance interactivity to attract and not deter users

It’s important to find the right balance between being intrusive and being noticeable.  Animated ads catch tablet user’s attention by making the ad more visible.  Ads that have animation in the  background are effective at catching the attention of a tablet user and are much more appealing to them than ads that blink.

Take advantage of rich media capabilities

Tablet users have come to expect rich media experience and proactively engage with them. The onus is on advertisers and their agencies to deliver meaningful rich experiences that are in context with the content around them;

  • The ability to touch, shake and tilt device adds a new dimension of interaction that users love.
  • Including photo galleries, video content and animation into creative executions, builds user awareness and engagement.
  • Tablet videos can be longer and higher quality than those used for smartphones.  Social media such as sharing on Facebook or Twitter extends the connection of the brand and the consumer beyond the life of the campaign.
  • Tablet games can be more sophisticated as they encourage users to spend quality time with the brand; while playing users are focused and engaged.
  • Integrating forms for data collection and click-to-call buttons directly in an ad unit drive users further down the purchase funnel

Optimise landing pages for tablets

Landing pages for tablet ads should be built in HTML and feature clear calls to action and eye-catching creative. Responsive design sites are growing in popularity. Rather than creating a separate site with different content, user interfaces and creative elements tailored for separate devices, a responsive website will adapt and scale the presentation layer to work best within the available screen real estate.

Consider the impact of offline vs. online usage of apps

For apps that require online connectivity to operate, as well as tablet web ads, the full array of ad features, including dynamic content can be used. For ads that are served offline, cashing is recommended, so your campaign can be delivered successfully and to ensure capture of campaign analytics.

Take into account ad trafficking standards

The IAB ‘s MRAID standard has allowed media buyers to deliver their campaigns across multiple platforms and devices with its SDK agnostic approach more easily. MRAID 2 promises to deliver more sophisticated size changes in ads, allowing ads to grow to partial screen, and change size multiple times as users interact with the creative. It also standardises how the ad creative gets information about screen size, device capabilities, and other details relevant to desired ad behavior. In addition it will allow clarification of video handling in the context of mobile rich media banner and interstitial ads.

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