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Adobe Digital Index/ Emerging Media

Tablets Trump Smartphones In Global Website Traffic

by Tyler White
Manager & Principal Analyst
Adobe Digital Index

See More by this author >

After ana­lyz­ing more than 100 bil­lion vis­its to 1,000+ web­sites worldwide, Adobe Dig­i­tal Index has dis­cov­ered that global web­sites are now get­ting more traf­fic from tablets than smart­phones, 8% and 7% of monthly page views, respec­tively. Pretty impres­sive for a device cat­e­gory that was introduced less than three years ago!

We’ve been keep­ing a close eye on how quickly tablets have taken off. Just a year ago in Jan­u­ary we uncov­ered that vis­i­tors using tablets spend 54% more per online order than their coun­ter­parts on smart­phones, and 19% more than desktop/laptop users. Dur­ing the past hol­i­day shop­ping sea­son we saw that 13.5% of all online sales were trans­acted via tablets. And last month before the Super Bowl we learned that online view­er­ship via tablets dou­bles dur­ing big sport­ing events. Now we know that not only is tablet traf­fic more valu­able in terms of ecom­merce and engage­ment, tablets have also become the pri­mary device for mobile browsing.




Tablets drive more traf­fic because inter­net users pre­fer them for more in depth visits.

Smart­phones remain much more com­mon, but the tablet form fac­tor makes it ideal for brows­ing. Whether it be leisurely surf­ing the web, engag­ing with video, or shop­ping online, on aver­age inter­net users view 70% more pages per visit when brows­ing with a tablet com­pared to a smartphone.


Inter­net users in the UK are most likely to surf via tablet.

While smart­phone traf­fic in the UK is sim­i­lar to that seen in US and Canada, tablet traf­fic is much higher, espe­cially when com­pared to the rest of the world. Inter­net users in the UK are much more likely than their French and Ger­man coun­ter­parts to browse via both tablets and smart­phones. In Japan and China, how­ever, smart­phones remain the mobile brows­ing device of choice. This is not sur­pris­ing given the smart­phone capa­bil­i­ties that have existed in Japan for years and the high costs of tablets and high speed mobile access in China.


All coun­tries saw tablet traf­fic dou­ble in the past year.

Despite the vari­ance by region, tablet traf­fic growth has been con­sis­tent through 2012. All coun­tries saw their share of traf­fic from tablets dou­ble over the course of last year and that trend is expected to con­tinue through 2013. The UK, Canada, and Aus­tralia did see a slight dip in the share of traf­fic from tablets dur­ing Novem­ber even as total tablet traf­fic con­tin­ued to grow due to a tem­po­rary surge in PC traffic.


Tablets are pre­ferred for retail & ecom­merce related activities.

We know that the larger form fac­tor of tablets makes them ideal for couch shop­ping. The data bears this out as retail web­sites receive the high­est share of tablet traf­fic across all indus­tries. Auto­mo­tive and travel shop­ping sites sim­i­larly get a sig­nif­i­cant share of traf­fic from tablets. It should be no sur­prise that tele­com provider web­sites see the largest share of traf­fic from smart­phones as con­sumers check and pay their phone bills.


So what does the rise of tablets mean for marketers?

Con­sumers all over the world are try­ing out their tablets for the first time and it only takes one bad web­site expe­ri­ence for them to decide to go else­where. A smart­phone opti­mized site is not the same as a tablet opti­mized site. Mar­keters should keep in mind that con­sumers use their var­i­ous mobile devices dif­fer­ently. They might turn to their phone to check their bank state­ment or to stream music, but use their tablet to shop for a new car. They want more per­son­al­ized expe­ri­ences. When they opt for their tablet they aren’t just price com­par­ing, they’re pur­chas­ing. They aren’t just watch­ing a video clip; they’re explor­ing and engag­ing with con­tent. They’ll be dis­ap­pointed if they’re not able to take advan­tage of the smooth touch inter­face and awe­some screen res­o­lu­tion of their new toy.

The data shows that tablet use is only increas­ing, but is form fac­tor what really mat­ters most? Phones are get­ting big­ger, tablets are get­ting smaller. Google has just announced that it will lump tablet searches in with desk­top searches, but the lat­est tablets not only look like large smart­phones, they have now adopted the most fun­da­men­tal of smart­phone capabilities—the abil­ity to make phone calls. Mar­keters can’t rely on screen size any­more to deter­mine and deliver the most appro­pri­ate expe­ri­ence. They’ll need to pay atten­tion to con­nec­tion type (wifi vs cel­lu­lar), and refer­ral source along with form fac­tor to pri­or­i­tize which options to offer the user.

Think about it. Why do you choose to use your tablet instead of your phone if you have both? What dif­fer­ent expec­ta­tions do you have? Now apply that to your customer’s expe­ri­ence.  Com­ment below or tell me about them @tyrwhite and I’ll look to see if the data backs up your experience.

Check out the rest of the Dig­i­tal Index reports here, and here.