What the iPad Means for Marketers

Now that we’ve have had a week to put the new iPad through its paces, we asked our PM Digital bloggers for their thoughts on the device with an eye to its potential for marketers.  Below are some of their initial impressions and takeaways.

OS4 Will Make the iPad Truly “Magical and Revolutionary”

Chris Paradysz:  OS4 will have multi-tasking capabilities.  Now, I love the iPad.  I can be excited about any great technology, but it should fulfill the hope I had back when I blogged about it earlier in the year that it will create an intimacy bond between content and users.

Music, video, words, pictures should no longer be disconnected from touch and feel.  The iPod and iPhone didn’t transform this connection with people (consumers).  With the portability, size and weight of the iPad well-suited to most people’s hands and laps, it can easily move from one position to another and from one person to another.

From a marketing pov, this creates a new experience sensation and viral ability that prior e-readers have failed to deliver.  Within an app or the internet, an advertiser can deliver a rich brand or offer experience, not just ink on “paper”.   With the iAd and technology infrastructure to support it, I have two questions:  1) how soon will it be before Apple starts up an advertising agency; 2) will a new SNL Apple skit be on this Saturday night?

A Must-Have Device You Didn’t Know You Needed

Suzy Sandberg: Just to get this out of the way, YES, the iPad does look like a giant iPod Touch. (iPad owners, I feel your pain on this relentless comment).  And since I can’t strap the iPad to my arm when I go running, I do still need my iPod Touch. And I still need my laptop since the iPad has limitations (no USB for one). I also have/need a cell phone until/unless Verizon ever actually does get the iPhone.

So with four devices (ok, I actually just lied about that…I have a Blackberry, too), where does this newest one, the iPad, fit in my life?

First is that it gets me online quickly, and the speed is lightning fast. Research has shown that the majority of time spent on the mobile web is done in the home, on the couch. I am one of those. The experience of being online on an iPad can’t compare to that of an iPhone or iPod Touch, particularly if you are consuming media. Just because you CAN download a movie or book on an iPhone, does that mean you should?

If you have an iPad you should do your downloads on that device. Some media is so breathtakingly beautiful and awe inspiring that even though I’ve had the iPad just for one week, I couldn’t go back to the small screen for certain things.

In the app department, the current choice is somewhat limited, but I’m optimistic that here is where the iPad is going to hit a home run. There are many apps to be enamored with for the iPhone, though many were developed as workarounds for a clunky web experience on a tiny screen. Since that is definitely not a factor with the iPad, I predict incredible creativity coming out of the app store to serve entertainment needs and many other things I can’t yet visualize.

The iPad fits in my life, so far, because it’s a highly enjoyable experience and perfectly meets the needs of my digital life. Especially when paired with my other four devices.

You and Your Customers Just Got a Whole Lot Closer

Tim Kilroy:  I am a big Apple fan. I use an iPhone. I am writing this on a MacBook Air.  I have never purchased a PC in my life, and I have bought 7 Macs.  And I wasn’t first in line for an iPad!  So what gives?

For me, it was just a failure of imagination.  I didn’t, frankly, understand why I would want an iPad.  It was an iPhone that I could use without my glasses.  Great.  It is a laptop that I can’t do real work on.  Super…that is exactly what I need.  And then, I used it…the magic hit me.

This is truly personal computing that allows for immersive engagement.  Web, mail, video are all at the tip of a finger.  So why is it magic?  Because the computer disappears.  It is just you and whatever you are doing.

What does this mean for marketers?  It means that your presentation layer just got cooler, and more transparent.  The opportunity to create impact and engagement just increased.  Imagine that your interaction with consumers on a computer is like you yelling across 6th Avenue at your target audience.  They can hear you, and some will even listen closely.  But few will ignore everything else happening in NY to follow you.  With the iPad, you have the opportunity to walk across 6th Avenue, and sit down with your customer at a Starbucks. It is still noisy, but you can sit across the table from each other and listen.

And that is magic.

More Touch, More Emotion, More Measurement Challenges

 Anthony Avolio: Based on my experience with the iPad thus far, I have three key impact areas for marketers to consider moving forward.

Touch usability.  Marketers must actively consider touch interfaces when planning their designs. Designs with small click targets, extensive use of hovers/rollovers or requiring browser plug-ins don’t create a positive user experience on the iPad. This applies to all online media, including websites, banners and emails. While the iPad is just one device, it’s likely the start of a new mainstream push for touch interfaces. Marketers must insist that their creations function and resonate with consumers on as many screens as possible.

More emotion.  The iPad’s touch interface and minimal design can create a more immersive experience for consumers.  Upon launching an app, the iPad disappears and becomes that app.  Upon opening an email, the iPad becomes that email message. Keyboard and mouse peripherals that typically separate the consumer from content are absent on the iPad, allowing the experience to be more direct, more one-on-one.  Skilled marketers will use this more direct opportunity to delight, enthrall and connect.

Increased splintering of online browsing will continue to create challenges for measurement. In the old days, consumers’ online activity was typically split between two web browsers — one at home and one at work.  Smart phones and now iPads add to the number of devices that a single consumer actively uses to access the Internet, making measurement more challenging. Consumers can now learn about a new product on their work computers, research further on their phones before purchasing it on their tablets while at home.  With online browsing spread across devices and apps, conversion measurement and campaign attribution become increasingly more complicated.

Suitable for Framing

Glenn Lalich:  My first few days of playing around with the iPad were largely app-focused, as I figured that was where the biggest wow factor would be.  And the few retail apps available did not disappoint.  The Gilt for iPad app is elegant, and I found my fingers naturally tapping up beautiful super-sized product photos.  The Gap 1969 Stream app is even more revolutionary, with the iPad acting as a window on some infinite universe of Gap photos, merchandise, stories, videos and social media links. Pretty amazing stuff.

But from a retail perspective, my favorite iPad surprise didn’t come from a download.  It came when I stopped playing around with my apps for a second to check my email.  That’s when I noticed that the retail emails in my inbox looked gorgeous. The size of the iPad display, the hand-held proximity and the glossy screen made many emails akin to high-quality print ads or catalog pages.  Freed from a traditional computer, they were vibrant and alive in my hand.

Not every email I saw was a winner, mind you.  Product grids with a lot of white space can look like meagerly stocked store shelves.  In portrait mode, top-heavy layouts designed for standard preview windows do not fill the entire iPad screen, allowing below-the-fold disclaimers and legalese to move up and steal a bit of the spotlight.  But these are relatively modest adjustments to make, and relatively inexpensive as well.

The iPad just gave email creative a dazzling shot in the arm.  And it didn’t cost marketers a cent.  As much as I hope to see killer retail apps and touch-centric websites in the near future, it’s exciting that the iPad’s “magical” display and interactivity already offers fresh advantages to retailers as is, right out of the box.


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