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How the Tablet Will Change Content Marketing

  
  
  
  
  

You may have heard the news of Pew’s new research on tablet ownership in the U.S. and the results are eye opening.  33% of all adults own a tablet (defined as iPad, Samsung Galaxy Tab, Google Nexus, or Kindle Fire)—almost twice as many as the 18% who owned a tablet a year ago.  And, up from zero three years ago when Apple’s introduced the disruptive iPad.  (Go here to download the report)

The ownership numbers rise to 50% for key demographics such as:

* Ages 35-44
* People with College degrees
* Households over 75K per year
* Parents who have a child in the house

Not surprisingly, this rapid adoption has fostered a decrease in PC sales.  Tablet ownership should spike again this fall when the iOS7 powered new iPad rolls out along with competitive products from Samsung, Amazon, and Google

The vast majority of these tablets are not being used as “mobile devices”, but rather content consumption machines for text, images, video, music and social media.  And, they are being used to buy lots of stuff from e-retailers.  It is important to keep the use cases in mind – the PC is still the best device for creating content and working on complex problem solving – for now.  However, the tablet is superior for the classic “lean back” content emersion experience.  The clean and simple interface has contributed to the fast adaption.  Almost anyone from a toddler to the elderly can pick it up and figure it out within minutes.  Perhaps this will be Steve Job’s lasting legacy.

Clearly, the implications for brands and content marketers are immense as the “brand as media channel” revolution is in full swing and a CMO priority.  Content needs to be device agnostic and flow naturally to all possible devices and form factors.

Karen McGrane the author of Content Strategy for Mobile, recently wrote on the Harvard Business Review blog about how it is time to shift away from a paper/page paradigm for digital content.  Since the beginning of the web in the mid 90’s people have viewed it with the printed page in mind, hence the term web page.  The first websites were offshoots of printed material so it was natural to post print composed pages on the web.  McGrane suggests that is time to move past this thinking and it is hard to argue with the logic.  She says:

Publishing content to a variety of devices and platforms is fundamentally different from print. This wave of new connected devices means it's time we accept that the web isn't just a glorified print document. The way we think about content needs to change.

She suggests a new way to view content through the lens of the user experience.

"The page" as a container is so fundamental to how we think about reading; it's hard to break away from thinking about our content that way. On the web, we've repurposed that model, treating all of our content (text, but also graphics, videos, and other interactive elements) as through they "live" on a particular page. You don't have to spend too much time thinking about all these new form factors and device types to realize that the very notion of a page doesn't hold up. Content will "live" on many different screens and presentations. 

The future of connected devices is content in "chunks," not pages. Smaller, discrete content objects can be dynamically targeted to specific platforms and assembled into new containers on the fly. Which content and how much content appears on a given screen or interface will be defined by a set of rules, informed by metadata. Content will break free of the page and "live" in lots of different places.”

The tablet is just the first step, as we could be looking at wearable technology (Google Glasses, iWatch) very soon, and voice commands will enable content integration within cars.

While we are on the topic of moving away from old ideas, Rebecca Lieb an analyst for Altimeter Group writes about banner ads on iMedia Connection.  The banner ad comes from the same previous paradigm, it was merely a print ad transported to the web by ad sales people.  A recent study from comScore as reported by the Wall Street Journal shows some shocking results:

“54 percent of online display ads shown in “thousands” of campaigns measured by comScore Inc. between May of 2012 and February of this year weren’t seen by anyone, according to a study completed last month. Don’t confuse “weren’t seen” with “ignored.” These ads simply weren’t seen, the result of technical glitches, user habits and fraud.”   A mind-blowing amount of precious marketing budget is heading right into the shredder.

Yet, as Lieb points out, the demand and revenue for these outdated marketing tactics continues to grow while producing fewer results for marketers and less revenue for publishers as CPMs plummet.  Clearly, it’s time for a change when billions are wasted each year.

The takeaway for content marketers is to think differently when it comes to customer content engagement strategies.  The same old ideas and tired tactics won’t work as your customer’s readership habits evolve and interruptive marketing no longer works.  Time and technology only move forward, and today it happens fast.  


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