The time for pontificating about tablets is over – get involved

Rob MarstonIn this guest post, Rob Marston argues that now content is catching up with tablets, marketers need to get involved.

I am a gadget addict.

My first iPad was imported from the US and I joined a bunch of fellow gadget nuts getting our gadgety little hands on it months before the rest of Australia. During the new gadget high I did a lot of surfing and news and video watching, but soon my over-eager purchase lay gleaming and dormant on the kitchen bench for days at a time, struggling to find its role in my gadgety life.   

ipadThen my wife got hold of it and preferred the convenience of the iPad over the laptop. She used it as a communication tool – email, chat and video calls not to mention updating social media. Catch-Up TV came to iPad and ABC iView kept my little girl still enough to feed during meal times. My in-house researcher (wife) had multiple browser windows open with the latest holiday options, exchange rates and local weather reports.

The content had finally caught up with the device and the tablet had finally found its home.

The tablet is officially the fastest growing computer device in history, growing a whopping 260% last year in Australia alone. IDC forecast by 2015, over a third of Australians will own a tablet PC (the figure stands currently at around 10%) and this change will have a profound and irreversible effect on how advertisers can engage with their audience….and it is only two years away.

But what does this mean for advertisers?

When thinking of media consumption across each channel, a simple way to look at planning across smartphone, tablet and PC is Snack, Dine or Cook.

  • Smartphone users snack for information on the move, restaurant numbers, maps, retail in-store ‘scan and scram’.
  • Tablet users connect to the internet over Wi-fi 90% of the time (compared to 37% on mobile) to ‘dine’ at home, in a café or departure lounge with more time to be entertained and informed.
  • The PC is still where the ‘cooking’ is done, processing large amounts of information and video as well as a large number of documents.

When you understand snack, dine and cook, you can start to think about different screens for different needs, integrating not isolating your messages as well as how to deliver engaging content to these audiences at the right time in the right way.

words with friendsFor example, if we know that tablet users have longer session times, then advertisers can deliver longer form video, making sharing across social platforms easy. They could consider creating a simple game – 50% of tablet use is gaming…and not just the XBOX/PS3 crew either, I am talking about the social gaming phenomenon – that is Words with Friends, Draw Something etc – at least according to the key demographic, my mother-in-law)

The tablet market is currently a one horse tablet race with iPad’s marketshare standing at more than 75% and almost all the remainder Android.

Apple will have the tablet install base advantage for the next couple of years and as such should be a fundamental part of the planning process.

This virtual monopoly will and is changing as newer, smarter and ultimately cheaper devices enter the market. Android tablets are proliferating and prices are being driven down as more entrants jump on the bandwagon. Oh and be sure to keep an eye on Microsoft with their new platform – an awesome interface both on phone and tablet.

Having been involved with early stage technology throughout my career, I have been lucky enough to witness two interesting and consistent pitfalls that I would like to help you avoid.

Firstly, don’t stand around pontificating, postulating and procrastinating, start your discovery into the tablet world with a low risk trial and start understanding your consumer . This will make you better armed against your competitors who will continue to suffer from ‘analysis paralysis’.

Secondly, in a world where there are very few differentiators in established media channels, the tablet offers a rich and exciting canvas for advertisers. Organisations that create a tablet destination/experience are seen as innovators and this will have a halo effect on the rest of your brand. Understanding your audience and their habits on these devices and providing real entertainment may well give you the exciting gadgety fix that is often saved for the early adopters.


  1. Peter Rush
    17 Apr 12
    1:03 pm

  2. I honestly don’t know Rob or any of his associates but how well written was that article? Started with real life experience, gave some basic category background info, went to a useful learning device and finished up with some damn good advice. Suggest other guest hosts study his format.

  3. beezlebub
    17 Apr 12
    1:18 pm

  4. i agree Peter – great article Rob, thanks

  5. Clem Hall
    17 Apr 12
    2:02 pm

  6. Well written, Rob, as always.

  7. Gilly
    17 Apr 12
    2:13 pm

  8. Great article Rob. Entertaining and informative!

  9. Les Posen
    17 Apr 12
    2:46 pm

  10. A pleasure to read someone give both a personal account, then support his call for others to “pay attention” with data which can be easily sourced from the usual online search engines (I’ve seen them before so won’t quibble about non-citation of references).

    Most telling phrase: “Understand(ing) your audience”

  11. Logic
    17 Apr 12
    3:05 pm

  12. and inmobi replaced this guy with a very watered down replacement? seems crazy to me.

  13. JK
    17 Apr 12
    4:41 pm

  14. Brilliant article… spot on with snack, dine and cook.

  15. John Matthews
    17 Apr 12
    6:30 pm

  16. Nice article Rob

  17. Christina O'Connell
    18 Apr 12
    2:01 am

  18. I liked the fact he used the word inovators. As a true business consultant it’s very important to be an inovative thinker and really study your client or customers market to show that the power of name recognition and being in front of there ideal client. I’d also agree that an ipad user is a profitable to be in front of. As a consumer I look forward to finding the company’s contact info online, before I even think about doing business or paying for services.
    So Thats my opion from all three points of you.

  19. Ed
    18 Apr 12
    8:52 am

  20. That was excellent. Thank you.

  21. Simonthepom
    18 Apr 12
    10:33 am

  22. Great article Rob. All too often we, as marketers disregard (read: put in the too hard basket) the context of usage of these devices and you’ve presented this in an excellent format with snack, dine & cook.

  23. Aidan
    18 Apr 12
    11:37 am

  24. Spot on Rob. The key for any advertisers who are dithering about and unsure of whether to take a punt on mobile/tablet advertising is to make a move.

    Like Rob says, your competitors will get left behind as they sit on the fence (unless they read this post of course, in which case what are you waiting for?!).

  25. Gary
    18 Apr 12
    7:15 pm

  26. I’m with Logic on this one

  27. Marc
    19 Apr 12
    12:23 am

  28. Great article Rob!

  29. Stephen
    19 Apr 12
    8:02 am

  30. ..nice..

  31. Turkish
    19 Apr 12
    8:44 am

  32. Really like the Snack, Dine and Cook analogy – also like thinking of this in the way of tablet consumption being a lean back experience and desktop in particular being lean forward. Content generation and interaction should be planned with this in mind, as you say, games etc.

    Nice article.

  33. Darren
    20 Apr 12
    8:50 am

  34. great read Rob!

  35. Billy C
    20 Apr 12
    4:52 pm

  36. One of the interesting things about the ipad and iphone is that unless you jailbreak it’s not easy to get rid of the ads. I have all my ads blocked on my computer but I do see them on my iphone and I don’t find them overly intrusive. Sometimes I even click on them.

  37. Eddie TB
    22 Apr 12
    7:10 pm

  38. Very enlightening article Rob, love the snack, dine and cook analogy. I’m getting more into snacking especially with wi-fi far more available. If only the battery life on my phone was long enough for a couple of days of GPS/net use. Will Australia be leading the world with tablet use?

  39. Gregan
    24 Apr 12
    10:37 am

  40. Nice work Rob. I agree with the notion that different modes of usage demand different consumer engagement and communication models.

    My experience (as both a consultant and a business leaders) in the advertising and marketing world has been that mobile has usually been a “bolt-on” to comms strategy, rather than being part of the fundamental marketing mix.

    Often the implementation is hurried (if it’s done at all) and the “personal device” piece of the puzzle doesn’t make sense from a strategic perspective in the context of the overall campaign.

  41. I wonder
    28 Apr 12
    3:57 pm

  42. I love the analogy of smartphone, tablet and PC as Snack, Dine or Cook.

    While considering user experience across both is critical this article reminds us to consider our audience and their engagement based on how they found you.

    For me it isn’t just engagement and implementation its messaging and communication hierarchy; copywriting for messaging across three disparate device mediums is the new black.

  43. Me
    2 May 12
    10:34 am

  44. Rarely read much coming out of the legacy industries that makes sense.

    This did. Good job.