The future of apps and tabs

Pete Davis, the managing director of agency Get Me Media, looks at how app and tablet technologies are changing the media landscape and what they offer marketers.

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There has been an explosion of media choices for brands over the past few years, much of it inspired by new technology, and the market continues to move on apace.

One of the latest trends is in the mobile sector and in particular the app market, and we have seen a notable increase in these opportunities coming through our website over the past year.

Indeed, with mobile ad spend increasing 32% from 2008-2009 and expected to grow further into 2010, what is becoming apparent is that mobile advertising and mobile apps are no longer something that should be utilised by the daring few, but rather, it is time for them to be seen as an important channel and one that all marketers should be exploring.

However, just when marketers might have thought they were starting to understand the app market, the arrival of the iPad and other tablet technology has upped the ante.

An increasing number of magazines have now ported across to the iPad with cutting-edge technology magazines like Wired and iGizmo leading the charge, and this is opening up further opportunities for advertisers.

Julian Lloyd-Evans, managing director of advertising at Dennis Publishing, which produces iGizmo, explains: “There is a real thirst for these innovations among the early adopter market – which is a powerful segment for many brands. When we released iGizmo for iPad, it topped the download charts for two weeks, and we now have over 31,000 apps downloaded.”

“This figure not only allows us to add value for our existing advertisers in the online magazine – which is distributed to 100,000 people – but it also gives us a solid basis from which to create new opportunities specifically for this media,

“While there is, of course, still room for traditional-style display advertising in the iPad version, there is also the opportunity for brands to create much more innovative ways of engaging with readers, using the range of multimedia tools that are available,” he adds.

However, this is just the start, as other technology companies such as Google with its Android platform – along with Samsung and Sony – all jumping on the tablet bandwagon, so the market will become more and more mainstream and many predict that tablet technology will soon become a staple for most households, making it a powerful media channel.

Dennis Communications, which is the customer publishing arm of Dennis Publishing, currently works with brands such as Waitrose and Dixons to create bespoke online magazines – not simply online reproductions of their printed magazines, and Lloyd-Evans believes there is a very real opportunity for building interesting and informative magazines around a product line or manufacturer, and really owning the market through the iPad.

Julian Lloyd-Evans says: “Many marketers would want to hold off until the market has become more established, but we’re in a unique position at the moment where if brands can get in quickly they will be able to dominate the market for comparatively little investment,

“Being the first major food brand or fitness brand to produce a tablet-based magazine app, would make it much harder for the competition to get a foothold,

“While we’re presently at the early adopter stage, within twelve months this technology is going to be more prevalent and people will be much more discerning about what they download making it harder to get established,” he adds.

And don’t be fooled into thinking tablet-based publishing is just about interactivity, it can also give advertisers a wealth of insight into their consumers.

A brand like Waitrose can easily track whether a pork recipe is more interesting than a chicken recipe, for example, or what wine people are reading up on most and where. This can then drive stock control as well as product development. The insight opportunities are endless for brands.

Of course, while this may be true, the most pressing challenge for marketers is staying on top of these developments and making the right choice for their particular brand.

For many, keeping up with this can feel like an almost insurmountable task. However, sites like Getmemedia.com can be a vital part of the process, by showing marketers what is out there.

The reality is that being technically savvy is of vital importance to a brand. One brand manager recently informed me that they have constructed a new media development programme to allow them to test how effective certain media is in connecting with their consumers.

It’s worth remembering that quite simply, without testing or trying new media you can’t learn what works best for your brand. Many companies will spend £5 million on new product development but hesitate to invest £200k on new media trials. Now where’s the sense in that?

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