Leveraging the Tablet Revolution

After having queued up outside the Apple store in Sydney on July 23, 2010 to buy my iPad, I am reflecting to see how this magical and revolutionary product has impacted my media consumption habits. During the early days, I had a hard time finding a place for this device in my life due to the rookie mistake of “trying to replace the laptop with the iPad”. However, in due course of time, I realised that the iPad had slowly carved its place in my media schedule particularly at the expense of prime-time TV, a fact that has been substantiated by a study by the Web service ReadItLater that the bulk of iPad text content consumption is from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m.

From reading magazines to finding my way around the iPad has completely changed the way I use the Internet. This change has been made possible by mobile apps – simple, elegant solutions to meet our everyday needs. Apple has heralded the ‘app revolution’ with the success of the iPhone and iPad with over 10 billion apps downloaded to date.

My experience with the iPad is not unique. In a survey of 500 iPad owners by Business Insider, 75 percent of iPad users spend between one and five hours a day on their tablet device. With consumers spending so much time on their iPads, it seems like a logical addition to the media mix.

Before adding the iPad to your marketing campaign, it is important to answer three fundamental questions:

1. What can the iPad achieve that other media channels cannot?

The iPad is a valuable tool to drive customer engagement; the question is how it stacks up against other media channels. Unlike the TV, the iPad empowers the viewer to have an intimate on demand experience with a brand without switching from your primary task like reading the news, playing a game, etc. For example, I can experience the new Audi A6 through a demo or watch the trailer for “Black Swan” and book tickets all while reading the news on The New York Times app.

2. How can you engage your target audience through the iPad?

A recent study followed 400,000 iOS apps and found that 26 percent of all apps were downloaded and then never opened again. The same study also showed an increase of abandonment rate from 22 percent in Q1 2010 to 28 percent in Q4 2010. For brands seeking to engage users with apps, the challenge is to continually find ways to add value to your target audience. A great example of adding value is the Guardian Eye Witness app. This app is sponsored by Canon and brings users beautiful pictures from all over the world in addition to providing “Pro Tips” on how those pictures were taken. What a simple way to bring the core benefits of the brand to life while adding value on a daily basis.

3. Can your iPad app or iPad ad elevate your brand and value proposition?

The iPad has the potential of bringing static content like magazines and books to life. The challenge to marketers is to find relevant ways to leverage the iPad to drive brand engagement. Splenda (a sugar-substitute) recently sponsored an issue of Shape Magazine on the iPad. The sponsorship made perfect sense since the brand’s core values (getting back into shape) were completely aligned with those of Shape Magazine. Pepsi used in-magazine video advertising for the Pepsi Refresh Project in the first iPad edition of Wired Magazine, thus reinforcing the brand’s innovative credentials.

Let me conclude by saying that the iPad has heralded the tablet revolution and the time is ripe for marketers to explore relevant ways for their brands to be involved in the tablet revolution. The challenge is to find a strong idea that can be translated into a complete experience for your target audience and consequently help you achieve your campaign/business objectives.

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