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Are tablets the ultimate bedroom tool?

It is easy to see why tablets have become so popular in the home environment. The devices provide the power and portability of a smartphone, but also have a larger canvas that is ideal for a more relaxed setting at home.

Over the past year, tablets have been labeled the new ?lean-back? device. And more marketers are taking that into account when developing their own tablet strategies.

?Whether a consumer is looking to be entertained, catch up on a last bit of work-related business, or connect with friends and family, they can do all of it on a tablet,? said Marcus Startzel, chief revenue officer of Millennial Media, Baltimore, MD. ?Often they may be doing all three of those in a single session.

?Tablets are a lean-back device, which makes them a natural fit for the home,? he said. ?Additionally, many of the activities that consumers like to do on a tablet, such as shopping or watching video content, are more suitable for when a person is outside of their work.

?For advertisers, this is really exciting, since they have new channels to reach users on during TV prime time and an opportunity to drive direct sales, even once the traditional shopping hours are over.?

Mobile habits
Although tablets are laid-back devices today, there may be a change in habit over the years.

According to Mr. Startzel, the mobile ecosystem moves so quickly that there might be some changes in habit, but at a basic level, traditional behavior should look similar to what marketers see today.

?Tablets will still be a lean-back device, and we will see frequent and consistent usage in the home,? Mr. Startzel said. ?The real opportunity is for advertisers to change their habits to fit this new paradigm we?re in.

?Already, we?re seeing brands create campaigns specifically designed to reach tablet users who may also be watching TV, and we expect to see more of this in the future,? he said. ?Every prediction we hear these days is saying that more tablets will be sold than ever, and people who own tablets will use them more frequently, so we expect usage to increase.

?One big change we?ve already noticed on our own platform is the expansion of the tablet ecosystem to include devices outside of the iPad. In the first quarter of this year, we saw 45 percent of tablet impressions come from Android devices, which is a noticeable change from a few years ago. One of the impacts this has had on advertisers is that many campaigns are focused more on reaching specific audiences, rather than a single device.?

Logically speaking
For many, tablets are the ultimate at-home device because of the mere fact that they do not fit in most pockets and, ultimately, are not as small as smartphones.

?Tablets do not fit in a pocket, so they will not displace mobile as the always-on link to brands and retailers,? said Wilson Kerr, vice president of business development and sales at Unbound Commerce, Boston.

?And who wants to dig out the laptop or boot-up the clunky desktop at night?? he said. ?Tablets are as easy to turn on as opening a book and they offer Web access in an easy to use, intuitive format.

?No wonder they are used so much at home, in the evening, and in bed. It?s called couch commerce for a reason.?

According to industry experts, more consumers use their tablet devices during the evening time than during the day.

Similar to smartphones, tablets are personal, simple to use and interactive. They also have more real estate with which marketers can work.

?Tablet apps make the curation and delivery of content even better and these apps can be personalized, so the experience feels comfortable, and for retailers and brands it is quickly becoming a liability not to have an integrated tablet commerce site,? Mr. Kerr said.

?Tablet usage is surging, and as such the initial trends regarding usage will become more entrenched,? he said. ?In Q1 2013 global sales of personal computers plunged 14 percent, while, for this same period, sales of tablets surged increased by 142 percent.

?These numbers speak for themselves. Retailers and brands should note that tablet commerce sales and page views are soon expected to surpass mobile and they will do it in a fraction of the time.?

Ultimate tool
According to Alex Campbell, cofounder/chief innovation officer of Vibes, Chicago, tablets are the ultimate bedroom tool and marketers need to seize the opportunity and think accordingly to help build a better relationship between them and their mobile customers.

?Tablets are the perfect-sized tool for the bedroom,? Mr. Campbell said. ?People use their tablets in bed as a way to unwind from the day.

?That means they use it do to things they enjoy like read, play games, connect on social media, watch streaming video, catch up on news or use it browse while they are watching TV,? he said. ?Marketers can connect with these bedroom browsers by changing ad content in the evening that will appeal to them.

?For example, if someone is in bed relaxing, they are probably not going to be taking on a major purchase. Instead, they are probably browsing or doing research.?

By doing so, this gives marketers an opportunity to start the customer journey.

Over the next few years, Mr. Campbell predicts that the tablet market is going to get more intense.

?The tablet will take over and be the go-to-device for the bedroom to catch up on news, entertainment, games, apps, video and connect with social networks,? Mr. Campbell said.
 
?We are going to see more widespread use,? he said. ?There will continue to be varied product offerings ? different sizes and price points.

?We will also see the development of more apps targeted for those focused on using tablets in bed.?

Couch commerce
Tablets also provide an opportunity for enhanced experiences while relaxing and watching television.

Because of this, many marketers are developing their own second-screen initiatives.

?We are also noticing that people shop for different products on each device,? said Chris Mason, cofounder/CEO of Branding Brand, Pittsburgh, PA. ?Because more tablets connect through Wi-Fi than cellular, it makes sense that usage escalates as people return home to consistent Internet access.

?As technology evolves, so does behavior,? he said. ?Connectivity will increase, and devices will get cheaper. Anything is possible and more and more retailers are creating tablet-specific Web sites.

?Right now, when a client launches a tablet-optimized site, they can immediately see an average revenue increase of 10 percent, and an average order increase of five percent. Simply repurposing your desktop site for tablets fails to take advantage of unique device features like GPS, cameras, microphones and high-res touch screens. Desktop audiences and tablet audiences are not created equal.?

Final Take
Rimma Kats is associate editor on Mobile Marketer, New York