Consumers, marketers and media professionals alike are buzzing about next month's release of Apple's iPad (though probably not as much as they were buzzing about it before it was announced). For consumers, it's the latest cool gadget from the company that has led the pack when it comes to cool.
But the stakes are even higher for marketers and media professionals. With print publishers working to create iPad-ready versions of their newspapers and magazines (along with creating advertising deals to capture more consumer interest), there's much hope for the iPad to snap the industry out of a slump. Consulting firm Frank N. Magid Associates conducted focus groups with consumers and media buyers on the iPad's potential. Magid marketing strategist Natalie Suski discusses the results of those focus groups:
Q: Is the iPad the savior of the publishing industry?
A: We do believe it will be transformational for newspaper and magazine publishers. Whether it will save the business or not is a different story, but we definitely think it will put a new face to the way consumers can actually interact with print content as well as advertising within print content. It kind of gives the industry a breath of fresh air.
Q: What types of marketers might benefit from this technology?
A: We actually talked to a bunch of ad buyers. I'd say the key ones are the ones who have to reallocate their traditional print advertising. This includes, if you think of it, even traditional B-to-B advertisers. I can't imagine that it would be exclusive to any type of company or brand. The great thing about this device is the opportunity to create really interactive, interesting advertising. You can make it interesting for every type of brand. A lot of consumers in our research showed a lot of interest in advertising that's more interactive and video-based, ads where you can click to request more information. This also brings up the question whether they'll have the capability to press a button and be able to purchase an item.
Q: What did consumers think about seeing ads in this format?
A: They actually said it was more provocative to them, and they see the potential value in this type of advertising. Nowadays, you're looking at consumers that are so used to display, banner and Internet ads that the only thing they're interested in is viral advertising or something interesting in video ads. They see this as a way to make ads more interesting to them and more targeted to them. But they do push the fact that these should be something that's opt-in or content-relevant.
Q: What are the potential hurdles then?
A: I think first of all, marketers are trying to figure out what best ads fit on all these different platforms. And I think they're only starting to figure out the best way to measure advertising on mobile devices and they're still figuring out what's the optimal ad format for online video. So I think there's going to be the usual challenge in creating standards for formatting and measurement. Some ad buyers mentioned that formatting and measurement may be very dependent on Apple's decisions. You know what models they're going to allow.
Q: What are the benefits for a marketer to be on this platform? It's not going to be a mass medium like the Internet or television is, at least not at the outset.
A: There's always the opportunity for location-based advertising opportunities, which is inherent to other types of mobile phones. In addition, there's all sorts of targeting opportunities because it is a mobile device and there are more things you know about your consumers on that platform. Also, I think there's more ways you can create interesting and provocative ads that are interactive. Nowadays, that's critical to actually engaging consumers.
Also what we found with consumers is you have this whole life device attractiveness. We got really good feedback from the older demographic as well as the younger demographic. All generations recognize the dynamic multimedia experience from the iPad really combines capabilities that generally required one device and may have only been focused on a certain market. Marketers may be able to reach across a variety of target segments [on this platform].
Q: And consumers are open to the idea of advertising in this format?
A: We actually got really good feedback. Participants in our groups were very interested in the idea of being able to click on an ad for a product they're interested in and potentially to be immediately directed to a site where they can learn more and/or purchase. Several participants stated that interactive ads that are done right could have a very positive impact on their impression of a brand. The opt-in nature of the interactivity is key. They don't want things to just start playing when they're trying to read or consume content.