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.


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