Separate your tablet strategy from your mobile strategy

Brands that lump their tablet strategy in with what they are doing on mobile or desktop are guilty of misunderstanding what a tablet actually is and worse still, how people actually use them.

Lara O'Reilly

The IAB’s head of mobile, Jon Mew (the source of many of the stats in this column) lamented at the trade body’s Mobile Engage summit last week that he is forever being asked the question: is a tablet a mobile or a PC?

Mew now replies: “It’s neither. And it’s all three.”

While that sentence alone might not be enough to put the matter to rest, Mew has a point. The question, however annoying for the IAB, is incredibly important to brands – particularly when it comes to arranging marketing departments.

Too often a brand’s tablet strategy is handled by its mobile department. To me that seems a silly as tasking the head of a brand’s website to look after its customer magazine.

Despite the fact that tablet content is generally built by mobile teams, 74% of tablet usage actually takes place at home, according to the IAB’s Three Device Lives research – it may as well be plugged in.

But remember, it’s not a PC. Around half (49%) of tablet owners say its their favourite device for entertainment, above and beyond their other internet-connected devices, the research claims.

People watch videos for longer on tablets and two in five people (42%) say it’s their favourite device for exploring.

People use their tablets and their mobiles and their laptops for vastly different things. Three Device Lives goes on to state that tablets are the most likely device to be used whilst watching television, which has interesting implications on how marketers should be tying up their TV strategy with search-related and app activity.

Tablet users are also more likely to part with cash on those devices than people browsing the web on their phones or desktops. Yes, this is partly because tablet owners are generally early adopters and have the spare cash to afford their pricey device in the first place, but it’s still an important factor to consider when prioritising tablet vs mobile vs desktop activity.

It’s quite disheartening that many retailers still don’t have tablet apps or tablet optimised sites, especially when considering separate research from the IAB (its Mojo study) that claims tablet users spend 4 hours and 26 minutes shopping every week, with 72% of those purchasing weekly. That’s nearly two hours more than desktop (2 hours 56 minutes) and mobile users (2 hours 12 minutes).

Those stats should hopefully make a convincing case that not only should brands already have a tablet strategy, but that it should be completely separate from other mobile and desktop activity.

Tablets are a relatively new platform but they can’t just lump in their tablet activity in with other marketing on unrelated gadgets.

Understandably, building a tablet division is another headache marketers would rather avoid, it’s not easy – especially since many employees are yet to have a mention of “tablet” in their job titles.

That isn’t an excuse not to act. Tablet ownership is growing at a phenomenal rate (Apple tablet shipments alone are up 118% year on year), so marketers need to swallow the pill and develop their dedicated teams and strategies now if they are to truly embrace the phenomenon.

Learn more about how online and mobile developments can help your brand gain a competitive edge at Marketing Week Live. The event is being held on June 27 and 28 at London Olympia and is free to all registrants. Find out more here.

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