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Navigating the daunting tablet marketing landscape

Can iPad 2 fend off challenges from rivals such as

Apple shipped 15.4 million iPads in the fourth quarter

Right when marketers got the hang of mobile marketing comes the tablet. Although the opportunities are obvious, incorporating tablets into the digital marketing mix can be daunting.  

The tablet form factor – a large, interactive screen – makes it hit among consumers. And, ABI Research forecasts that 11 million tablets will be shipped this year, which means that the audiences on devices such as the iPad are growing and becoming more valuable to mobile advertisers and marketers.

“The two obvious opportunities that tablets offer marketers are services in the form of applications and tablet-optimized Web sites, and media in the form of in-app ads and tablet Web ads,” said Dirk Rients, management director of mobile platforms at Draftfcb, Chicago. 

“Tablet owners are also using these devices while watching TV so marketers can also take advantage of the multidevicing phenomenon we are seeing in the industry,” he said. “Marketers have the ability to develop applications that sync with a TV show and offer up unique content to the user.

“Additional opportunities include using the device to enhance the shopping, in-store and payment experience.”    
According to Paul Cushman, senior director of mobile sales strategy at Yahoo, Sunnyvale, CA, tablets offer marketers a larger, more interactive canvas where they can be more creative in how they connect with consumers.  

Research has found that tablets are lean-back devices, meaning consumers are more likely to be in a relaxed mindset when interacting with a tablet. 

Because of this, consumers may be more open to engaging with a campaign on their tablet.  

“This is in contrast to consumer engagement with mobile phones, which is usually briefer since they are typically used more for getting stuff done, including checking email and the weather or media snacking, such as viewing short video clips or reading headlines,” Mr. Cushman said. 

Branding or direct response?
When it comes to whether tablets are better suited for branding efforts or direct response, the answer is both, per Mr. Rients. 

In fact, brands are already using tablets to drive awareness and purchase intent. 

The novelty of the tablet makes it a good tool for a brand to separate itself from the competition.  

“Direct response has never been more immediate within the mobile/tablet space,” Mr. Rients said. “Brands can use this device to offer consumers an experience that points them directly to the point of purchase, find the nearest location, or access a coupon while never leaving the device.  

“Tablets are a great way to connect and engage the consumer,” he said. 

Per Mr. Cushman, tablets offer marketers a multitude in terms of branding opportunities. 

These devices offer marketers the opportunity to create immersive and interactive brand experiences with digital ads that use video and other rich content. 

The tablet's functionalities – such as tactile and motion sensing capabilities – make the creative opportunities unmatched.   

Driving commerce
According to the Nielsen Co., tablet users are mostly male with an average age of 38. Their average household income is $142,000 annually and they are married with kids. 

“Tablets are a great mobile commerce platform because consumers who make purchases via these tablet devices typically spend more money than your average consumer,” Mr. Rients said. 

For example, a Gilt Groupe user recently bought a $65,000 Rolex from the Gilt iPad app. 

“Brands are taking advantage of the tablet device and providing the consumer with somewhat of a novelty and unique shopping experience, which makes them feel comfortable about making big purchase decisions,” Mr. Rients added.  

Although it is still a bit early in the game, Yahoo’s Mr. Cushman said, iPads are already replacing cash registers for some small businesses.  It remains to be seen what tablets will disrupt in the future.

The disruption is inevitable, especially when taking usage into mind. Seventy-seven percent of tablet owners use their devices everyday and 53 percent of users depend on tablets for daily news, according to a study by Pew Research and The Economist Group.

Consumers spend approximately 90 minutes per day engaging with their devices.

Brands such as Home Depot, Nordstrom and Sears are giving employees tablets to assist customers in finding product information, check inventory, and even purchasing a product without having to wait online to be served at the cash register. 

“Brands that are adding these tablets to their in-store experience will be viewed as innovative and providing an extra level of service than those that don't,” Mr. Rients said. “Imagine being handed an iPad when you walk in a store and that is your shopping cart, store guide and cash register.”

Is tablet marketing mobile marketing?
The tablet is somewhat of a hybrid between the smartphone and the desktop PC. 
According to Draftfcb’s Mr. Rients, tablets are primarily used at home during the evening where consumers spend longer periods of time with the device, compared to smartphone users who are accessing short bits of content while on the go.  

“Tablet marketing is just one element of a brand’s overall digital marketing strategy, which should aim to connect with consumers on all four screens – mobile, PC, tablet and TV,” Mr. Cushman said.  

“Agencies should be thinking about how they engage and move consumers to interact with brands across each of these screens, ultimately driving them from the PC, through the tablet, to the store via their smartphone, and then back again for customer-relationship management,” he said. 

Mr. Rients suggests brands take a look at their site metrics – Omniture, Google Analytics – and determine the number of consumers accessing their site from a tablet device.  

This should be a key metric to determine if a brand should consider a tablet strategy.  

The consumer behavior of a tablet user is another factor. Brands need to see if this behavior matches up with that of their target audience. 

Mr. Rients recommends brands consider four key areas when building a tablet strategy:  audience, platform, content and business goals.       

“Yahoo has seen significant client interest and engagement in tablets and some clients, notably financial ones, are seeing good conversions on tablets,” Yahoo’s Mr. Cushman said. “This interest, however, is broader than that and as of yet, we have not seen a category that cannot benefit from this medium.”
 
Mr. Rients said that it all depends on the individual client's business objectives and that tablets may not be right for every brand. 

“I think that the basic principles of marketing still and always will apply,” Mr. Cushman said. “First, look at the audience and find out if they are using tablets. 

“Second, consider your message and how it applies to this channel,” he said. “Third, look at adaptation. As the tablet is a media consumption device, you should consider featuring video more prominently. Then, you should take the occasion that the device is being used into account.  

“If the tablet is being used primarily at home at night in prime time, for example, you should look at what you’re doing with your TV ads at that time or what TV programs that you might be sponsoring and see how they could extend to the tablet. Lastly, you should work with partners who truly understand both digital and mobile, including tablets, to help you execute your campaign.”

Final Take
Blake Irving, chief product officer at Yahoo says tablets combine traditional and digital ads:

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Giselle Tsirulnik is deputy managing editor on Mobile Marketer and Mobile Commerce Daily. Reach her at giselle@mobilemarketer.com.

 
Related content: Strategy, tablets, Paul Cushman, Yahoo, Dirk Rients, Draftfcb, mobile marketing, mobile commerce, mobile advertising

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