Distinguishing Between Mobile and Portable

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mobile_smallADOTAS – With the rapid growth of the smartphone market and the iPads 2010 kickstart to the lackluster tablet market, what is the impact to marketing? For starters, the overall proliferation of these devices means that your ability to reach your audience increases. But in order to leverage the potential inherent in these emerging technologies, it’s essential to understand how they’re being used by consumers.

One important distinction is that mobile phones are “mobile” while tablets are “portable.” People use mobile phones while they’re on the street, on a bus, waiting for a friend—in other words, they use them to interact with people and businesses while they’re truly on the go. By contrast, though the use of tablets is not tied to location either, the time that users spend with them is more focused and extended.

These different behavior patterns mean that users respond to different types of content.

Reaching Smartphone Users

Smartphone users on the go need smaller bites of information that are easily digestible, visually scanable, and that provide in-the-moment information. Smartphone users use mobile search to navigate, even to familiar sites, and among this group, social networking is the primary reason for accessing the mobile Internet. For these reasons, the best ways to communicate with people on mobile devices is through SMS, QR codes, social networking sites, mobile search, and with location-based tactics such as near field communication (NFC).

Increasingly, mobile devices are being integrated into people’s shopping experience and used for pricing comparison. According to a study done for Pontiflex by Harris Interactive, 63% of adult mobile users prefer to receive coupons, deals or newsletters.

Reaching Tablet Users

Because the behavior of tablet users is more thoughtful and focused, this group is more receptive to marketing that leverages the best features of the device. For tablets, this means the richer and more interactive, the better. Photos, video, 360 degree views, shopping comparisons, mobile sites, augmented reality and other intriguing communications—anything that can benefit from a larger screen size and more processing power.

Tablet Tip: Speaking of screen size, there has been a great variety of screen size among the new tablet competition, and this adds to your challenges as marketers. A good rule of thumb is that tablets 10” and over (95% of the market right now) are best for full page interstitials and apps developed specifically for the devices. Screens 7” or smaller will likely run mobile phone apps.

In the long run, one potential outcome is that these two device categories will morph into one, with phones growing larger and tablets shrinking. Such standardization would of course simplify marketing. But in the short term, competition in the marketplace will drive increasing variation. Companies most able to create marketing strategies that address this fragmentation will come out ahead.

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