NEW YORK (Nov. 5, 2010) — This holiday season will put a lot of iPads in the hands of consumers. This platform has ushered in a slew of new opportunities for brands and marketers to connect with consumers in a very different way.
The iPad, in particular, satisfies the growing consumer desire for greater personalization, instant gratification and multitasking like no other. We once observed a sports fan watching an NFL game in a bar while he used his iPad to monitor his fantasy football team and his mobile phone to text game updates to his friends. This scenario may seem extreme, but it does illustrate a growing desire to use these platforms to multitask. But the question brands, marketers and agencies are all asking is this: how do we use this platform and how does it fit with our overall marketing efforts?
Remember, the iPad has only been in market since April, and we are already trying to predict the future of it. But it has forced these burning questions: What are the new rules of engagement when it comes to this type of interaction? How should a brand use it without annoying consumers who don´t want to be bombarded with advertising? Consumers appreciate the walled garden app environment as it feels premium.
Marketers need to accept that every experience they create is an advert, not just the content they put into media spaces. And, as such, they must accept that this new platform requires them to provide fresh, high-quality and valuable content—as well as the ability for an instant response to consumer requests. The iPad has been heralded as the new premium content-consumption platform. One size doesn´t fit all when it now comes to content creation. Both the content and the experience design need to be considered in the context of what is unique about this platform.
We need to take a careful look at consumer behavior and get a deeper understanding of how, when and where consumers prefer to consume content—and how this will evolve over time. Before we jump into development, here are some considerations about the platform, and what we believe should influence your planning:
1.Capacity. Consumers will happily accept a 250MB download of a magazine like GQ into an app, but within a browser, truly rich, immersive experiences are too large to load in a reasonable amount of time. This means that fatter and richer immersive content should always be delivered though a native application.
2.Payment. The distribution power of iTunes stems from a level of comfort and the familiarity of buying MP3s for 99 cents. This comfort has now extended to native application purchases and as a result, for the first time in recent memory, consumers are happy to pay for software. Put another way: Consumers will pay for content on this platform if it delivers on the promise of premium and quality.
3.Tolerance. What I find most interesting is the apparent consumer tolerance for a constant stream of updates on this platform which are perceived as value for money. I don´t know many users who would tolerate six to 10 software updates when they open up a browser. With the iPad, however, there seems to be an acceptance that this is still evolving and we are all in this together.
4.Intimacy. I always loved the expression "personal touch." When talked about in the context of a brand, it means they are willing to go beyond just marketing to me. The gesture-based touch navigation on the iPad creates a very different relationship between me and the content. Removing the mouse and keyboard means I am consuming and navigating in a much more intimate way. Ironically, this is not something I feel when I use a touch screen in full view in a public space like an airport terminal.
5.Accessibility. Mobility is a key feature of the iPad. All of this travels on a screen big enough to have a great viewing experience yet remains easy to interact with.
6.Connectivity. The expense of the cellular data plans makes this one somewhat prohibitive, but access to WiFi means that while this is not necessarily a productivity tool—light productivity like e-mail can be done alongside reading and watching. In the context of this, it is worth thinking about how your content can be cached for reading, and how prompts or calls to action maybe met with a "not currently online" message.
In this new space, there are some brands that have pioneered experiences that really do leverage the unique qualities of the platform. We looked at these from a content strategy and planning perspective and tried to break down their approach:
- Cadillac and Coolhunting: This is perfect content and brand pairing, putting one of the best curators of new products out there alongside a pretty unique car, and presented in a tasteful and valuable way.
Brands creating content
- Tabio: A beautifully shot and planned film created to highlight the Tabio product in motion (literally), with the ability to buy right from the film.
Content to purchase
- Net-A-Porter: This is a great example of the ability to present two dimensions of content using the accelerometer. One orientation gives you a beautiful magazine-like browsing experience, and the other gives you the ability to shop the advertising.
Content with utility
- Kraft:Big Fork, Little Fork: This is a great resource for parents to teach their kids about smarter eating habits and have fun while doing it — a perfect way to position Kraft at the heart of the kitchen and the family.
- Gibson Guitars: What better way to get consumers on your side than by offering free digital products that replace expensive physical peripheral products, and become part of your setup every time you pick up your instrument?
My final bit of advice to you is this: Look at the brands above and have some fun when you are planning for this new platform. Keep an open mind as to what this platform can do for you and embrace its uniqueness. You have a chance to try something different and introduce another side of your brand.
Conor Brady is chief creative officer at Organic Inc., an agency of New York-based Omnicom Group. This article appeared in Advertising Age magazine, a New York City-based sister publication of Tire Business.