iPad Is the New Black

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ipad_smallADOTAS – And then there was the iPad. Shortly after the tablet’s introduction came Apple’s announcement this week of its new mobile advertising platform, iAd, launching the company into the mobile ad wars alongside Google.

Apple’s word is that it will change everything. From our perspective, we are pretty sure that this tiny device will change one thing: the mobile web browsing experience.

Since the introduction of the mobile Internet, many companies have been trying to figure out how to use smartphones for marketing. Until now the web-based experience on mobile devices has been pretty limiting. Most mobile advertising is limited to text or limited WAP sites.

The market hasn’t matured because no one has quite figured out how consumers engage with content on small-screen mobile devices. Now that problem changes character.

I don’t know how people will use the iPad. I feel safe in saying that the real-world use cases for the iPad will be determined by observing its use and not by the technology itself. But there are a few things we’re thinking about, as it seems likely that this device will actually bring mobility to web browsing.

In a jab at Adobe, industry sources say, Apple noted that the ads living on iAd are built entirely using HTML5 — i.e., no Flash required. Many companies out there are looking at serving ads into websites in HTML5 rather than Flash for the iPad.

There’s news every day of a company getting set to “port ads over to the iPad.” The first thing every marketer wants to do when a new technology comes out is to jam his or her old ideas into it. Or they get Bright Shiny Object Syndrome and have to do something, anything, just to be in the hot new place.

How cursed is the online advertising to this day because the industry refuses to let go of the old television planning and measurement model? Whatever we think we know about online advertising doesn’t necessarily apply to this new type of browsing.

Rushing headlong into a new thing without understanding how that thing requires new ways of doing everything it touches is a recipe for failure. And this is a new thing.

We are hyper-aware that the web browsing experience on the iPad will be different from the computer-based browsing experience. The iPad is a tactile device. Fingers are king. And fingers don’t operate the way a mouse does. Not as pinpoint activators of finely delimited, image-mapped navigation or as a device at all.

How should the web work when you can touch it? How do my stubby fat fingers manipulate the same content as my wife’s fine thin ones? Just like a glove, one standard, old-school approach to manipulating content won’t fit all.

Creating a set of gestures that take a consumer through an ad experience that is fresh, yet intuitive and strikingly similar to the signals we are accustomed to making on other touch interfaces will be key. You can’t retrain a person for every new ad. And yet you can cue people to take actions — and have fun — based on the touch experience.

We need to think carefully about how we create ads on this platform. Though the screen is larger than the iPhone’s, the iPhone has trained people that they can flick to zoom in and pinch to zoom out.

If that behavior takes place on the iPad, we’ll have to re-think what an impression is. Can we develop a content hierarchy that changes based on the zoom level, in order to maximize the value of the impression no matter its user-determined size?

We might want to go back to basics and re-think what an impression even means on this platform. What does it mean to expand an ad, or navigate content in an ad, when people use their fingers to trace an arc of intent to move the pieces around?

What sort of data should we start tracking when those fingers can tell us so much? What can those fingers tell us by their actions? How does one use sound in ads, when it’s likely that the user is wearing earphones rather than listening to built-in speakers — and only because they are already listening to music.

Early television was radio drama performed for a camera; it took time and experimentation before producers learned to take advantage of the unique opportunities the medium offered and develop technologies to realize them. The same was true of the Internet.

And the same is true, on a potentially smaller but no less important scale, of mobile advertising, currently represented by the iPad and the new advertising platform on the block — iAd — aiming to give developers tools that will allow them to incorporate ads users can view without leaving their apps.

It’s only a few days old — let’s not think we know it yet.

3 COMMENTS

  1. Thank you, Matt! What a great post.

    I can’t help but think we are moving more and more towards neuromarketing, marketing of intent-especially when you talk about, “What does it mean to expand an ad, or navigate content in an ad, when people use their fingers to trace an arc of intent to move the pieces around?”

    Very interesting. Thanks again!

  2. Yes….very thoughtful….particularly liked your musings on gestures and the iPad as a tactile device….”Fingers are King” way to drive home the point the iPhone and iPad represent a paradigm shift.

    One additional thought to consider. We may be at the beginning of an accelerating change curve. Ultimately, I believe we will be standing in front of large format screen hanging on our living room wall making Wii-like gestures to access information, entertainment, and communication resources. May be the old guard will give up their “old television planning and measurement model” when the television disappears see Yes….very thoughtful….particularly liked your musings on gestures and the iPad as a tactile device….”Fingers are King” way to drive home the point the iPhone and iPad represent a paradigm shift.

    One additional thought to consider. We may be at the beginning of an accelerating change curve. Ultimately, I believe we will be standing in front of large format screen hanging on our living room wall making Wii-like gestures to access information, entertainment, and communication resources. May be the old guard will give up their “old television planning and measurement model” when the television disappears (see http://deathofthemouse.com/2010/04/16/the-next-big-thing )

  3. Just realized that my last post was garbled. I meant to write:
    ***
    Yes….very thoughtful….particularly liked your musings on gestures and the iPad as a tactile device….”Fingers are King” is a way to drive home the point that the iPhone and iPad represent a paradigm shift.

    One additional thought to consider. We may be at the beginning of an accelerating change curve. Ultimately, I believe we will be standing in front of a large format screen hanging on our living room wall making Wii-like gestures to access information, entertainment, and communication resources. Maybe the old guard will give up their “old television planning and measurement model” when the television disappears (see http://deathofthemouse.com/2010/04/16/the-next-big-thing )

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