Adapting Marketing Yet Again — This Time For The iPad And Other Tablets

You are the CMO or the head of marketing for your company, and you’ve just finalized your social media plans for 2011 at the request of the CEO. Despite the unknowns out there, you are comfortable with your target audience, your message, your content plan, and the platforms you will use. You’ve even got a great candidate who loves the brand and wants to be the evangelist. But last week, your social media evangelist brought you an iPad to try out. You take it home for the weekend, you use it nonstop, and now you are thinking, “Where does this fit in my plans for next year?” While 2011 will see huge growth in spending on mobile advertising, and the display and search markets are back on track from the semi-slump of 2009, where does the iPad and other tablets to be announced from Google, Dell, Nokia, and others fit into your plans?

From a marketer’s perspective, the Web browser is pretty well understood — targeted banner ads that ideally would be integrated into content so as not to be intrusive. Mobile is getting cooler, and the ad platform to support visible ads on small screens is in the hands of the two (now) most popular smartphone platforms, Apple and Android. But this tablet segment seems to be gaining traction as a platform for what marketers dream of:

  • Distraction-free engagement. The use of the iPad as a publisher’s and marketer's dream is based on the fact that it is, primarily, a device for consuming media. Yes, you can get your work email on there, and I’ve seen many people rest all of their fingers on the “keyboard,” but is this really a device for input? Most of the excitement around these devices comes from reading chair/bedside table use, not from upright productivity use.
  • Direct connection from ad to action. The above description is what magazines serve us well with. They take us to new places, show us new styles, or expose us to in-depth commentary without the distraction of email and IM symbols flashing. But on a tablet, this immersive experience can be tied to ads that live and connect a message to an action. You can’t do that in Vogue, but you can in Gourmet’s new Gourmet Live app. That was always true of a banner. But the distraction of a Web page is overwhelming, and the distraction in a tablet app can be minimized.
  • Personal, digital, and trackable use. Unlike most laptops, the one-touch "on" button, lightweight form, and self-contained interface of the iPad and others like it mean that they will move around the house with the user, and of course out into the yard, to the coffee shop, and on planes and trains. What books and movies are you interested in? What are you doing that is primarily leisure? The iPad would know.

So, savvy marketer, is the iPad a laptop replacement, a mobile device, or some newfangled engagement device? Which budget will fund spending and experimenting with your brand experience on this new segment? What do you call this new way of marketing? We’ll have some research coming out on mobile marketing and advertising soon, and we would like your input as to whether tablets fit this on-the-go realm or create a new category of ads.


The iPad is an amazing new

The iPad is an amazing new platform for marketers. It is highly mobile, interactive, and engaging. We can now reach consumers in unprecedented and exciting ways.

Imagine the day in the life of Joe, an iPad owner. Joe wakes up to his cell phone alarm, checks the time, then rolls out of bed to brush his teeth. Perhaps he turns on the news while he gets dressed. After sitting down to enjoy breakfast, he reaches over and grabs his iPad from the coffee table. The daily news, email, and the weather are at his fingertips. Late for work, Joe packs up his things and drives away, but he didn’t quite finish reading that last article. No problem—he can finish it on the elevator ride up to his office.

Joe was actively involved with the information he consumed on the iPad. He literally touched it, read it, and played with it. There is an almost seamless interaction between Joe and the iPad across the different settings of Joe’s morning.

The iPad shares many positive attributes with cells and laptops, yet it is unique enough that it can be considered an additional component to a consumer’s media suite. The iPad will not replace mobile phones or laptops because all three devices have unique value propositions. Mobile phones are convenient to place phone calls, and they are more portable than the iPad. Laptops are more suitable for “productive work” due to their larger screen sizes, capacity, processing speeds, and inputs. The iPad is a portable and interactive entertainment center.

The tablet needs a different advertising approach because consumers are using it differently than other channels. While some successful mobile or web campaigns may translate well to a tablet device, marketers now have an opportunity to make use of the best of both worlds: following the user around while interacting with the user on a larger screen. Additionally, as you point out, it will have a wealth of potentially targetable information on its users.

Click through rates and other like metrics may not be the best ways to measure an effective tablet campaign, and it is worthwhile to figure out what makes up a successful campaign and drives a high ROI.

I look forward to seeing the research Forrester puts out there.