The introduction of the Apple iPad earlier this year has changed a lot for digital marketers. It has opened up new advertising opportunities. It's making consumers more open to receiving advertising in general, too. It's even encouraging media companies to reconsider how their sites are designed.
This latter development has implications for digital media buyers. Not only does the recent rash of iPad-optimized redesigns and custom iPad sites translate into some new site placement options, but in many cases it marks the launch of accompanying cross-channel products, thus opening up even more advertising options.
The impetus for these site redesigns is primarily better site functionality on the iPad. When it was announced the iPad would not support Adobe Flash - used for 70 percent of games and 75 percent of video online - some publishers and developers, along with Adobe itself, cried foul. But if Internet content is known for anything it's the ability to adapt in the face of new challenges and technologies.
And adapt it has. Some publishers - like CNN, The New York Times, Reuters, Time, and Vimeo - feature an iPad-friendly HTML5 video player when you navigate to the sites on your iPad. ESPN has optimized its site navigation and live scoring for iPad's "Multi-Touch" display, while TVGuide.com offers a new customized interface. The Wall Street Journal, NPR.org, Nike.com, and TED.com all now offer largely Flash-free versions of their sites for the benefit of iPad users - in most cases also offering something that they didn't before.
Most recently, PBS.org was redesigned to feature improved navigability where content like blog posts and videos is concerned, more personalization, topic aggregation, and other enhancements. The changes have allowed PBS to provide its advertisers with more video pre-roll sponsorship opportunities online.
When it relaunched its site, PBS also threw in an iPhone app and one for the iPad. The strategy makes good sense in that it aims to please both the consumer and the advertiser; if you're going to acknowledge the reach of Apple's products and the value of its users, why not take your efforts a step further to provide a customized cross-channel experience? For media buyers it means access to a PBS iPad app sponsorship that includes a load screen banner, full-screen banner that launches when a user clicks the logo or watches a video, and a "custom rich media execution" within the app itself (the similar iPhone app also includes an expandable banner).
New opportunities aren't, however, limited to the iPad itself. Brands may be using its existence as an excuse to branch out into the "mobile" realm, but what that expansion means is that they can now offer advertisers cross-channel campaigns that leverage all key digital platforms. For example, advertisers eager to connect with kids and their parents can, for the first time, partner with PBS KIDS as a cross-channel sponsor and receive ad placements online, through mobile media, on TV, and at live events. Meanwhile, corporate sponsors of NPR's new site can secure exposure online as well as on the related iPad app, which improves the browsing and listening experience for consumers.
We've all been eagerly watching the evolution of iPad advertising as companies like USA Today and Pandora pave our way with unique ad tactics that may soon become the standard. As we do, let's not overlook the iPad's effect on site design and publisher mentality, and how it's reshaping media buying opportunities. Keep a close watch on your go-to publishers and be at the ready when they too reconfigure their offerings for a 360-degree media presence.
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Tessa Wegert is an interactive media strategist with Enlighten, one of the first full-service digital marketing strategy and services agencies, serving such brands as Bioré, Bratz, Food Network, illy, Hunter Douglas, Jergens, and Olympic Paints and Stains. An industry veteran, Tessa has worked in online media buying and planning, marketing, and online copywriting since 1999. She is an active freelance writer specializing in interactive marketing who has contributed to U.S. and Canadian publications, including "USA Weekend Magazine," "Marketing Magazine," "The Globe and Mail," and "The Montreal Gazette." She is frequently quoted as an industry expert and speaks regularly at industry conferences and events.
March 19, 2014