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Tablet Apps: Your New Marketing Channel?

June 13, 2011

There’s no doubt that tablets are rocking the digital landscape. Apple reportedly sold more than 25 million iPads in the last 14 months. Since the device’s launch, 90,000 iPad apps have been developed. And Apple is no longer the only player in the game, as the tablet parade at CES 2011 attests.

Last week, I attended MediaPost’s Tablet Revolution conference and listened to several companies present research and cases studies that validate this explosive growth in tablet computing.

Universal McMahon’s SVP Michael Haggerty shared some particularly interesting tidbits about the iPad.

iPad owners are largely 25-54 year old men, but ownership among 35-54 year old women is growing fast and will likely drive the tablet category in 2011. Women enjoy the portability of tablets – and the fact that it allows them to jettison newspapers, magazines, and Kindles.

More than half of iPad owners use it several times a day, and 63% of iPads are used by two or more people. Unlike smartphones, which are very much personal devices, the iPad is a family gathering device, according to Haggerty. This certainly resonates with my experience. The iPad is in constant use by my family of five.

So what does this research mean for digital marketers? It means that as more people across a wider spectrum interact with tablets, the pressure to invest in this burgeoning channel rises. The question is: how?

Fidelity’s VP of Interactive, Chris Needham, has one answer: develop a tablet app – and use it to forge a more intimate connection with customers. Fidelity’s most attractive customers overlap nicely with iPad users (high net worth, engaged, younger). In Needham’s experience, the development process for the Fidelity app was less costly and much faster than web development.

The Fidelity app is making ROI targets and has been downloaded 700,000 times across iPhone, iPad, and Android devices. The company is getting good PR, NPS, and engagement rates on their app advertising program, with content-based ads garnering the best results. In fact, Fidelity plans to increase its iPad advertising spend in 2011 by 300% over 2010.

But developing an app and buying advertisements aren’t the only ways for digital marketers looking to interact with tablet users. Imagine marketing in this explosive channel without investing significant capital and time in app development. Over the next few months, I’ll review a range of existing iPad apps to explore how digital marketers can do just that.

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