OMMA Tablet: Prepare For Revolution

BuickAt OMMA’s second annual “Tablet Revolution” show Jon Haber, chief innovation officer at media agency OMD, said the tablet is evocative of how humans and machines are approaching singularity, that is, a world in which the interface between devices and people is immediate, natural or maybe completely invisible (versus the mouse and keyboard.)

"We are still just pinching, sliding and poking," he said, but "as the camera 'sees' us and SIRI technology advances," the tablet is becoming an intuitive platform that is killing the old computer paradigm on which people, including marketers, still rely. 

"Even the traditional browser is a vestige of the past, because it is not the natural use of a table to browse the web. Just like files and folders won't survive. So the web site is in as much peril as a print magazine." He said that, because of the impact of mobile devices on digital culture, web sites are being effaced by app-like experiences "that follow you to whatever screen you go to."

Another interesting point: tablets are reversing the whole multitasking notion that was pretty much created by the window-based computer interface. "On the tablet you tend to be doing one thing at a time," he said. "And in longer, storytelling form." For marketers, said Haber, "The question is why, when and what should I do differently on this device? Rather than just buying a banner ad, we have begun to create mini-magazines for brands within the FlipBoard experience."

General Motors' mid-luxury auto brand Buick is rolling into tablets in a big way. Jim Kruger, digital and social media manager at Buick, told attendees on Thursday that the automaker's double-down on tablet digital is contemporaneous with Buick's efforts to create a new, younger, brand with vehicles like Verano.

And he said it reflects Buick's acknowledgement that the PC is going away. "The first iPad was sold on April 3, 2010," he said. "In 2012, nearly one in five people owns a tablet. Over the last holiday season the number of tablet owners nearly doubled." He pointed out that the Kindle Fire moved 6 million units in six weeks.

"People want a more immersive experience on tablets," said Kruger. "People didn't want watered-down PC experience." Buick has a three-pronged approach to affinity marketing that applies to how it is using tablets as a platform: culture/connected (early adopters heavy tech users); culinary and discovery; and human achievement.

To reach the connected, culturally savvy consumer, Buick, in 2010, was the first to advertise on the Wall Street Journal's iPad ap. "It helped us reach a more tech savvy consumer and early adopters. We saw a 150% benchmark improvement." Kruger said that last year Buick was the only auto brand to be among Amazon Kindle special offers. For the second pillar -- culinary and travel -- Buick partnered with Food and Wine and Travel and Leisure around branded apps. The human achievement vector involves Buick's association with former NCAA athletes. Buick last year was involved in an NCAA app that let people monitor games in real time.

"All of these programs are about adding value: it's reaching out to places and content [consumers] would be interested in. It's not just about getting onto tablets. It has to be an engaging, not disruptive, experience."

Kruger said people spent an average of 44 minutes engaged in the NCAA app, and some watched the entire game on the app. For a while, he said, it was the number one free app on iTunes.

And the brand has tapped its digital agency, Digitas, to make its "Moment of Truth" social media site tablet friendly by redrawing it in HTML5. "Since relaunching it, more than 70% of views are from tablets," said Kruger. When it comes to content for tablets, you don't have to reinvent the wheel. For 'Moment of Truth,' we kept the same content."

He said that, like a lot of auto marketers, Buick considers TV culturally first in the media mix. "But TV is going down," said Kruger. "At Buick, we think the future is online."

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