trends in tablet use and the opportunity for publishers and brand marketers

With the introduction of the iPad, Kindle, Nook and various Android-based tablets over the past few years, DragonSearch has been monitoring the developing patterns of  tablet use to find marketing opportunities for our clients.  Marketers and publishers aren’t yet  fully aware of these usage patterns among consumers, whether for business or leisure. As a result, they resisted stepping up to take advantage of the opportunity to maximize engagement from this large and rapidly growing user group. In our view, there needs to be more focus on the unique tablet usage experience. I attended an the Crain’s B-to-B Net Marketing Conference sponsored by IDG where  findings of a tablet survey were presented that confirmed our suspicion.

Tablets Are Not Smartphones!

In the IDG survey, the company makes the distinction between smartphone (mobile) and tablet. Because of the difference in content consumption and engagement on the two types of devices, Matt Yorke of IDG classified smartphones as mobile devices and tablets in a separate class. In our view, that distinction is overdue. We are avid smartphone and tablet users here at DragonSearch, for business and personal purposes. We get the most out of each device for different needs. Tablets are used for longer time spans and more immersion in the content while smartphones are used many times each day, but in short bursts. We suppose that most other tablet and smartphone owners have similar usage patterns.

However, according to IDG, that trend is shifting.  More time is being spent on tablets each day, and for longer periods. IDG found that pattern important. Increasingly, the tablet is replacing the laptop for business purposes during business travel and out of office tasks. Personally, I prefer my tablet (an iPad) because of the size and weight advantage over a laptop. This chart illustrates the distinct differences between tablet and mobile (smartphone) usage:


Tablet Usage and User Engagement

What is clear is that tablets have replaced a variety of familiar communication tools, from pen and paper to photocopied documents, newspapers , magazines and catalogs. This chart displays the findings:

The Missed Opportunity in Content Marketing

Marketers and publishers take note – content marketing best suited for tablets is not close to keeping up with this unfolding pattern. This is a missed opportunity for branding, promotion and final sales. Because the survey is global in scope, the opportunity exists worldwide. Publishers have the staff and skills to create and distribute the long form content suited to tablet viewing behavior. After all, that’s what established media companies have done since they started in business. In tablets, brand marketers have a new rapidly growing channel suited to in depth engagement by interested buyers of their products. Moreover, the tablet experience is suited to social media marketing techniques to drive brand awareness through content dissemination and conversations.  Properly handled, the social conversations can enhance the brand profile. But so far, only about one percent of marketing budgets are devoted to this channel, despite a share of audience far beyond that. As IDG’s Matt Yorke asked at the Crain’s B-to-B conference – how much of this $20 billion market would a publisher like to have? To which I would add, how much additional revenue and brand lift can a marketer get by adding tablet-centered content and promotion to the marketing mix? How much can be lost by letting competitors get there first, when buying decisions are made from the content provided for the tablets?  As I wrote awhile back, marketers have learned to adapt to the ever changing online landscape. We think it’s time for more commitment to the tablet experience as part of that continuous adjustment process.

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