iPad by the numbers

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Six months into the tablet computing frenzy that Apple kicked off with the April launch of its iPad, we are starting to learn some things about the market, the apps, the advertising, and how consumers are using the devices.

Here’s a compilation of research results, forecasts and other data points from around the web that should give publishers some insight into the iPad Revolution. (At minimum, you can use these in your next PowerPoint to impress the boss or a client.)

Advertising

The number of iPad advertisers grew 94% in the third quarter, contributing to a 316% increase in iPad ad revenue for the quarter, according to Millennial Media (pdf).

In a Nielsen survey of iPad owners, 39% of respondents considered the ads on the device to be "new and interesting," 46% said they like ads with interactive features, and 49% said they are more likely to look at an ad that includes video. These percentages were significantly higher than for all other “connected” devices in the survey, which included other tablet computers as well as e-readers, netbooks, media players and smartphones.

iPad owners are also more likely to make a purchase as a result of an ad seen on an iPad: 36% made an online purchase after viewing an ad on the iPad, compared with 27% of all connected device owners, and 24% said they made a purchase at a store, compared with 10% of other device owners; 8% of iPad users said they made a purchase directly from the device, compared with 5% of other device owners.

Click-throughs are better on the iPad too, according to mobile ad network Rhythm Media. Interactive pre-roll ads generated a click-through rate approaching 2.5% on the iPad, based on usage across Rhythm NewMedia’s network in the third quarter. This compares favorably with CTRs on the iPod Touch (1.5%), the iPhone (1%) and Android phones (0.75%). 

Chase Sapphire, which served as the exclusive launch sponsor for the New York Times Editors’ Choice iPad app, said its click-through rates were 15 times higher than normal Web campaigns.

Not surprisingly, publishers are charging premiums for iPad advertising. USA Today, for example, charged a $50 CPM for its inaugural advertisers, a hefty hike of the $10 CPM it normally charges for advertising on its website.

Apps

How are digital magazine apps doing in the App Store? Wired’s iPad launch in June drew a lot of attention after it announced it had sold 100,000 copies of the app – surpassing its usual newsstand sales of 76,000. But sales have since fallen sharply. WWD Media reported that the iPad app has since sold an average of 30,000 copies per issue since the June release.

The Financial Times’ new iPad app has fared well, generating nearly $1.6 million in advertising revenue since its May debut, according to paidContent. More than 40,000 subscribers have signed up for the app, which now accounts for 10% of the paper’s new digital subscriptions.

Most other publishers have been tight-lipped about app sales. Expectations will remain tempered until publishers negotiate an acceptable subscription model with Apple – single-issue apps have not been well-received by users and won’t provide a sustainable revenue stream. In the meantime, other monetization models are emerging.

The size of the iPad apps is also an issue publishers must address. Video, interactive graphics and other bells and whistles can add a lot of heft to an app – witness Wired’s 500-megabyte debut. Other apps tip the scales at varying weights: The New Yorker is 173 megabytes, Esquire is 89 megabytes, Popular Mechanics is 27 megabytes.

Bloated apps will weigh heavily on users who won’t be able to archive back issues.  Worse, Apple’s app limit for 3G wireless downloads is 20 megabytes, so users can only use WiFi connections to download meaty apps.

Despite the challenges, the potential continues to peak publishers’ interest. A recent study sponsored by Next Issue Media concluded the demand for interactive periodicals could generate more than $3 billion in revenue for the media industry by 2014. 

Users

Everyone with access to a survey tool seems to be researching iPad and other tablet users. Nielsen reports that 65% of iPad users are male and 63% are under the age of 35. Kindle owners, however, tend to be wealthier: 44% make more than $80,000 a year, compared with 39 percent of iPad owners.  Kindle owners also tend to be better educated: 27% have Master’s degrees or doctorates

TechCrunch, citing a Cooper Murphy Webb survey, said nearly one-third (31%) of iPad users prefer their iPad to their laptop, mobile phone, e-reader or print media for reading newspapers and magazines. Nearly half (43%) of the respondents said they use the iPad for more than 10 hours per week, mostly in the home.

Overall, analysts are bullish on the market for tablet devices. Tech research firm Gartner says tablet shipments are expected to surpass 208 million units by 2014. 

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