When tablets first came out, they were a technology of the affluent. I remember working with luxury retail brands at the time and there was incredible buzz about being able to reach users on that device. Traffic was cheap and conversion rates were good. Lots of experiences felt high end on tablets.

Travel has always had a problem with tablets, though. This chart – even if a few years old at this point – sums the problem up pretty nicely:

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As you can see, users have never been clamoring to book on tablets. While it’s not surprising that users don’t start on mobile devices and then book on tablets, it’s a great example of the key challenge with tablets: users frequently move away from them to book, and they rarely move towards them. The rest of the data in the report is great, but it groups desktop and tablet devices together, and that’s a problem.

And then you can see this data (from a great Adobe report) that shows how mobile has been crushing tablet in terms of booking share:

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None of this is very good news for tablet traffic. Before we get to the good stuff, the problems go a little deeper. Though it shifts by publisher, brand, user region, hotel region, and hotel type, we see about only 10% of the traffic that passes through our platform come from tablets. Tablet traffic converts at about half the rate of desktop traffic.

Most publishers do not even differentiate tablet traffic, and often from a pricing perspective it is grouped with desktop traffic. This can be extremely problematic. Since tablet traffic converts at about 50% the rate of desktop, when it costs the same it creates a drag on return and efficiency metrics.

Most of the time, this inefficiency goes unseen for advertisers. But we pay very close attention, and this has been a pain point for us for years. We’ve aggressively advocated for a better solution for clients, and today is a happy day.

Tablet is now biddable on Hotel Ads

As of today, advertisers can adjust bids on tablets in Google’s Hotel Ads. We were able to provide “moment one” support for this functionality, so it’s already usable in the Koddi platform. This represents an extremely exciting opportunity for advertisers to correct the price that they are paying for tablet traffic.

If you’re not sure where to start, here’s a rough gameplan:

  • Before doing anything, review your tablet experience to understand what users see on your site after clicking an ad
  • With that context, run a report with the Device Type report in Koddi
  • The variance you see in conversion rate and ROI is a good starting point to frame up a strategy
  • Extend your reporting to different scenarios; remember that there are places where tablet does perform well
  • Adjust your strategies with some of these values in mind

We expect that the tablet auction will normalize in the coming weeks and this activity will present lots of new opportunities for advertisers to acquire profitable traffic and deploy more advanced bid strategies.

In the longer term, the outcome from that first step is worth keeping top of mind. Our strong belief is that conversion rate on tablets is suppressed in a significant way by site experience. Clearly, users are doing something different on tablets than on desktop or mobile phones. Since they still represent a significant slice of traffic, the way to really win in the new tablet auction environment is to maximize value through both cost per click and conversion rate.

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