The iPad has the potential to provide an all-in-one tablet that people are going to use everywhere—on their couch, while on vacation, and from all the places in between.
Really, the iPad is as close as technology convergence has come to creating a jack-of-all-trades black-box device. The ability to add in video, multimedia, and other interactive components can provide marketers with an opportunity to create a rich and immersive mobile-consumption experience for consumers.
No doubt brands are salivating at the chance to use the device to connect with consumers. Just as it does with the iPhone, content will play a deciding factor in determining how users interact with the iPad.
The content-is-king concept is nothing you haven't heard before, but the potential content available through the iPad is like nothing we've seen in past media tablets.
Since many are hitching their wagons to the device—most notably, the beleaguered print industry—how can you, as a marketer, take advantage of the iPad? Here are five thoughts to keep in mind:
- If you haven't invested in an iPhone app right now, that's the place to start. That said, begin planning ahead for a time when enough people who matter to you are taking advantage of rich, immersive, and mobile multimedia experiences on screens larger than the palm of your hand.
- Think like a publisher. Apple has created a well-oiled vertically integrated machine that will allow you to be a true storyteller (finally!) and, who knows, maybe even sell more stuff in the process. Why try to make the most of your "print advertising" (i.e., enhance your flailing magazine and newspaper ad spend), when you can serve up the entire experience? Content is king. Who knew?
- The return of podcasting: What was once a subscription-based "video podcast" living on the outskirts of Fringeville is now front and center. The team over at "Will It Blend?" is going to spend less time destroying iPads and more time delivering their compelling videos through iPads!
- Another unlikely comeback is going to come from the convergence camp. A magazine is no longer a magazine, especially when it has interactivity and video. The same applies to the opposite end of the spectrum (i.e., the medium formerly known as "television"), especially when a viewer can become a reader at the swipe of a finger and, in doing so, find out more about—become better informed and educated about—your product.
- The creative renaissance that began with the iPhone App store is going to get a whole lot bigger. New rules. New context. New usage scenarios may tweak the formula, but the end product is going to be even more consumer empowerment and utility. Brands have a lot to contribute and gain here.
By coupling the iPad's ability to create unique, interactive content with the platform's mobile capabilities, brands have a real opportunity to provide a consumer experience like never before. As users continue to cozy up to location-based services, the iPad has the delivery mechanisms in place to engage customers by their interests and physical position.
Now that we understand that iPad success will rely heavily on creativity and content, we can shift to a discussion of the first industry that's carrying the tablet torch.
Magazines and newspapers are going to lead the hype bandwagon with respect to the iPad, but a plethora of hurdles must be overcome before the iPad can save the print industry.
No doubt the ability to add in video, multimedia, and other interactive components to the magazine experience will leapfrog the magazine business into the digital (and even social) era, but isn't that what they once called websites?
Moreover, the real debate here will be an economic one. A numbers debate—the million-dollar question—will be to what degree customers will pay for their magazines on their iPad (and, secondarily, what that fee—or, heaven forbid, premium—will be) vs. getting them for free in exchange for advertising.
In the case of the former, will people turn the pages any slower to avoid the advertising they were already avoiding, or will the advertising become smarter, more engaging, more targeted, and more valuable? That's another million-dollar question, but is it irrelevant?
Don't get me wrong: Nothing has allowed as rich a digital-magazine consumption experience as the iPad will allow—not even close.
A company called Zinio tried to create a similar experience on PCs, but do people really want to read magazines on computers? Is that what they've been waiting for all this time? Is that the reason why magazines have been going out of business?
The fact is magazines and newspapers have to become something more than a port of the print edition or just a website rehash.
The print industry needs to discover its version of the monolith, a la 2001: A Space Odyssey, and transform into the next iteration of content creating—combining text, audio, and video with precise behavioral, demographic, and geographic targeting that the iPad has the potential to produce.
That print transformation will be the first case study in iPad success or failure, and any marketer looking to invest in the device should take notice.
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