Larger iPhones: How Might They Impact Advertisers?
Do the new iPhone screen sizes affect CTR and should marketers be concerned? Contributor Andrew Waber examines what we know.
While retailers and application developers are likely most excited about the aforementioned Apple Pay, those outside the direct transaction ecosystem, such as online advertisers, may find the biggest news to be the brand new iPhone screen sizes and associated display features.
What Do Big Screens Mean For Ads?
There are likely many questions being asked by marketers internally in the wake of the announcements. In this article we’ll look to address perhaps the most basic one — how might the new form factors impact ad engagement rates in general?
Up until these most recent iterations, every iPhone screen has retained the same width. That continuity provided some relief to advertisers and developers — when seeking to reach the lucrative base of iPhone users, you knew almost precisely how your ad or application would appear on their screen.
But with the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus screens coming in at 4.7 and 5.5 inches, respectively, those practitioners will likely be dealing with optimizing their content for a number of different sizes and the corresponding resolutions and features.
How Does Screen Size Impact CTR?
To quantify this issue, the research division of my employer, Chitika Insights, examined hundreds of millions of U.S. and Canadian smartphone-based online ad impressions generated across the Chitika Ad Network from August 1 through 31, 2014. In order to analyze specific device ad click through rates (CTR), we also looked at the associated clicks coming from individual devices.
Let’s first look at how click activity within the current iPhone user base breaks down by screen size. For the purposes of clarity, we indexed the graphs to the highest exhibited CTR:
As seen above, there is a relatively sizable CTR difference between users of the 3.5” iPhone models (iPhones 1-4S), and users of the 4” iPhone models (iPhones 5-5S). While it would seem reasonable to conclude that the larger the iPhone, the lower the CTR, there are a variety of confounding factors likely influencing these figures to some degree.
For one, each group encompass several years’ worth of iPhone models, increasing the number of variables within each respective user base (e.g., purchase time, age of the device).
The entirety of the 4” iPhone user base bought their phone in 2012 or later, meaning that you’ll have a higher concentration of tech-savvy users in that segment as compared to the older iPhone group. Historically, tech-minded users tend to click on ads at lower rates, and one would expect that trend to carry over across platforms.
With that in mind, a more apt comparison may be the recently released Samsung Galaxy S5 and Samsung Galaxy Note 3 due to the similarities between those devices and how closely they mirror the limited number of differences between the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus.
Both of the Samsung smartphones were released less than a year apart, and boast relatively similar builds and specs outside of the different screen sizes – 5.1” for the S 5 and 5.7” for the Note 3:
The CTR differences between the two Samsung smartphones are close to negligible despite the varying screen sizes.
Certainly, the Galaxy S5 user base as a whole behaves slightly differently than that of the Galaxy Note 3 — the S5 is Samsung’s flagship, mainstream device, while the Note 3 is an unabashed phablet, which still operates within a limited, but growing niche.
Yet, this split is presumably what Apple will experience with its user base once the iPhone 6 variants hit the market on September 19, 2014. Most buyers will likely opt for the more traditionally sized 4.7” iPhone 6, while a smaller percentage of buyers will pick up the 5.5” Plus model.
Nothing To Be Concerned About
For marketers, these statistics should provide some degree of comfort. At a high level, the most recent applicable precedent points to screen size having seemingly no impact on CTR between two similar devices. Additionally, iPhone users as a whole click on ads at higher rates than their Android counterparts, and that’s unlikely to change with this latest release.
While we can’t say for sure that iPhone 6 and 6 Plus users won’t exhibit different CTRs, the identical release dates and similar specs, paired with this statistical context, makes it an unlikely scenario.
That being said, just like with any new technology, practitioners would be smart to look into optimizing their offerings to best take advantage of some of the new iPhone 6 features at some point.
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