Will HTML5 be the demise of apps?

NEW YORK ? HTML5, along with better processors and cloud services, might just mean the demise of applications, according to a panelist at the Mobile Marketing and Media 2010 conference.

The day-long event was organized yesterday by Mobile Marketer parent Napean and the Direct Marketing Association. The panelists discussed whether the iPad will save media in a session moderated by Heather Baker, managing partner at executive recruiting firm BennettBaker. 

?Today, applications are short cuts and bookmarks,? said Saj Cherian, principal at Valhalla Partners, New York. ?Five years from now, 80-90 percent of that functionality will be on the Web.

?We are definitely going to see that shift and HTML5 will be a contributor to creating this new environment,? he said.

Fellow panelist Eric A. Litman, chairman/CEO of Medialets, New York, disagreed.

He believed that for rich, engaging advertising, HTML5 is the next big thing.

?I think HTML5 is going to transform what we think about both Web and apps,? Mr. Litman said. ?Will apps be supplemented by the mobile Web?

?I don?t think so,? he said.

Saving media
The media and Apple fans have not stopped swooning over the iPad.

Apple expects millions of these souped-up tablets to sell, introducing a new lifestyle category that marries mobile with computer functionality.

The iPad?s charm is the wondrous user experience, with dazzling applications and regular Web browsing capability.

Not surprisingly, media companies view the iPad as the answer to their issues with the Internet ? cannibalization of audience and advertisers and lower profit margins.

As a result, publisher after publisher is launching iPad versions of their publications.

But is the hysteria warranted?

?There are two types of hysteria,? said Maria Mandel, vice president of media and marketing innovation at AT&T Advanced Ad Solutions. ?There is marketing and consumer hysteria.

?I am excited because it really offers up new ad formats and new ways of engaging,? she said. ?We have been seeing a lot of rich-media, video, expandable banners and such, but with the iPad comes the larger format.

?This opens up tremendous opportunities for new interactive experiences. In the longer term I see completely new ways to engage arising. The larger format will create entirely new languages for interacting with and advertising to consumers.?

Ms. Mandel gave an example of a recent Lexus campaign in Popular Science?s iPad application. As consumers browse content, they are asked to turn their iPad to be immersed into this full-page experience that includes images, video and an interactive game.

The iPad sold 3 million devices in just under 80 days. Morgan Stanley said that it is on the fast track to becoming the most popular mobile device. Currently there are 11,000 new iPad applications and that changes every single day.

Julia Schulhof, product manager for mobile, Hachette Filipacchi U.S., New York, also believed that the hype around the iPad is warranted.

?The thing about this tablet is that as a marketer, media brand or publisher you can create an immersive experience and tell a brilliant story,? Ms. Schulhof said. ?It is great for immersion and content curation and a more simplified experience.

?From a publisher?s experience, the iPad challenges us to ask what our value proposition for the consumer is,? she said. ?On the development side, it is very walled garden.?

ITunes has created a community of millions of people who are used to using their username and password for transactions. Therefore, the transaction is seamless.

Apple has created a community for marketers, brands and publishers to sell products.

?What it has turned into is that it is Apple?s customer, not yours,? Ms. Schulhof said. ?Although iTunes makes it seamless, we lose our access to that consumer.

?We don?t know any demographic information and Apple is doing all it can to protect its customer,? she said. ?But I think at the end of the day it is more about what is the most seamless experience for the user verses how much information we want to collect.?

Wired Magazine sold its first iPad issue for $4.99 each and has seen 100,000 downloads of the new issue so far.

Additionally, the Wall Street Journal reported that it made around $1.5 million from its iPad issue, so there is potential for monetization there.

Monetization
?We will see subscription, advertising and subscription with advertising models for monetization,? Mr. Litman said. ?The look and feel is very similar to print, which contains ads.

?Consumers are trained to have to pay for a magazine and still see ads in it,? he said. ?With the iPad, by fully taking advantage of all that the device has to offer in terms of functionality, it brings a better return for advertisers and better subscription revenue for the publisher.?

Apple is ahead of the curve, per Ms. Mandel.

First, the iPhone spurred a lot of innovation in the handset market. From an application standpoint there are 250,000 iPhone applications, 50,000 Android applications and about 5,000 for BlackBerry.

?Now we are hearing that Android and BlackBerry plan to launch tablet devices to compete with the iPad,? Ms. Mandel said.

Per Mr. Cherian, the iPad takes mobile into a different direction.

Mobile used to be about content and selling content such as ringtones and wallpapers.

?And now there is a shift towards actual transactions,? Mr. Cherian said.

Mr. Litman agreed, saying that the iPhone and the iPad is helping marketers reach consumers further down the purchase funnel.

?It is not just about the branding experience anymore,? Mr. Cherian said. ?Now marketers can actually close the loop via a transaction.?

In terms of monetizing media, brands need to think about how they build this audience and then think about monetization.

?Lots of people are thinking about the monetization strategy,? Ms. Mandel said. ?We have to be mindful of what the end user values in terms of what we are producing.

Mr. Cherian suggested publishers consider how users are using the device.

?Use location data and also how they are using the device,? he said. ?Track their gestures and how they are consuming and engaging with the apps.

?Then determine what their behavior tells you about the audience and who you are trying to reach,? he said. ?We are increasingly seeing advertisers buy people and not pages.

?The data and analytics around this ecosystem is incredibly important.?

Ms. Schulhof spoke to the resources that an iPad version of a media property would take.

She said it is unbelievable what it takes to make the magazine content more immersive.

?Metadata tagging is not something that print publications think through,? Ms. Schulhof said. ?On the mobile side, the challenge is working up the back-end and doing all the pre-production stuff.

?I think those are the issues. It is just about working out the efficiency,? she said.

At the conclusion of the panel, Mobile Marketer's Giselle Tsirulnik interviewed Mr. Litman. Here is a video:

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Here are some pictures of the panel: