So, 2011 is the year of the smartphone and tablet, or so we heard at today’s Big Tablet Debate, hosted by News International and Haymarket. It was not really a debate in the sense that there was pretty much consensus across the panel of advertisers (Motorola), agencies (Aegis Media; addictive!; BBH) and media owners (Conde Nast; News International). It’s too early to say where it is going as a device and where it will settle down when it hits the mainstream within three years. We just don’t know. Nobody knows. Different sub-groups of early adopters use it for different things – video, gaming, reading, etc but there is currently no holistic understanding of tablet usage and therefore no steer on how to design the most suitable creative for the platform, or to monetise it effectively.
The media owners on the panel, Conde Nast (with the entertaining Nicholas Coleridge, a man who apparently relishes his blackberry vibrating in bed while he is asleep...!?) and News International were quick, and repetitive, in pointing out that downloads of publisher content have not cannibalised print sales. It has filled the gap in consumers’ downtime and commuting – although I’m sure this gap used to be filled with things like reading newspapers and magazines!
The issue of measurement and trading currency surfaced a couple of times and the view was that getting a steer on the effectiveness of advertising was more valuable than hard numbers at this stage, given the numbers are not very big, as we have already seen on the last NRS data release. Personally, I think serious consideration will need to be given to incorporating it into the NRS measurement at least by 2012 when we should be able to acquire robust reach and frequency data at brand level. In the meantime, more insight on smartphone and tablet behaviour and engagement would be of value to the industry and to that end, Ipsos MediaCT will be publishing new work shortly on this very subject – watch this space.