May 15, 2012, 4:56 PM

Tablets speed through traffic

They account for 4.3% of web traffic and will hit 10.4% in 2014, Adobe says.

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Retailers beware: Tablet traffic is spreading like wildfire.

In Q1 2010, before the debut of Apple Inc.’s iPad tablet computer, there was essentially no tablet traffic on the web, a new study finds. In Q1 2011 tablet traffic accounted for 0.6% of total web traffic and in Q1 2012 4.3%, says the “Adobe Digital Index Report: How Tablets are Catalyzing Brand Web Site Engagement.” Adobe predicts in Q1 2013 tablet traffic will hit 7.2% and in Q1 2014 10.4%.

By comparison, in Q1 2010 smartphones accounted for 0.9% of web traffic, in Q1 2011 2.2% and in Q1 2012 6.1%, Adobe says. The company predicts smartphone traffic will reach 7.1% in Q1 2013 and 9.2% in Q1 2014. Tablet traffic will surpass smartphone traffic early next year, the report says.

Adobe measured 23 billion visits made to more than 325 web and mobile web brand web sites from January to March of 2010, 2011 and 2012. The sample included brands in the financial services, media, retail and travel industries with sites in North America, Western Europe and Asia-Pacific.

Tablets are emerging as a device to be reckoned with much faster than did smartphones, the report says. Two years after the introduction of the iPhone in 2007, total traffic to web sites from smartphones hit only 0.4%. Two years after the debut of the iPad in 2010, total tablet traffic is at 4.3%.

What’s more, tablet users are just about as engaged with web sites as PC users. Tablet visits to web sites resulted in an average 5.4 page views while desktop visits reached 5.9 page views, the report finds. Smartphone visits averaged 3.3 page views.

“As the tablet market matures, the advantages of PC browsing will erode, causing consumers to use tablets to visit brand web sites more frequently,” the report says. “To engage customers who use tablets, brands should adopt tablet-specific strategies instead of offering experiences identical to those of smartphones or PCs.”

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