American Marketer


Tablets should be used to enhance discovery, depth of messaging: Forrester

May 29, 2013


Brands are embracing tablet marketing because it enables them to engage with influential customers who spend less time on PCs and print media. However, for an effective strategy, brands need to make sure they understand the difference between tablets and smartphones.

The Forrester Research report "Don’t Confuse Tablet and Mobile Marketing" reveals that many marketers lump smartphones and tablets together to simplify their efforts. Creating a differentiated tablet experience requires understanding that the context in which tablets are typically used is different from smartphones.

“Tablet marketing differs from mobile marketing, which relies on more frequent ‘snacking’ sessions, now-or-never-type direct messages and calls to action, and task-oriented services,” said Thomas Husson, Paris-based vice president and principal analyst for the marketing and strategy client group at Forrester.

“The first step is understanding the differences in context analyzing differences in smartphone and tablet behaviors via advanced analytics tools,” he said.

“It is key to leverage tablet unique features and rich media ad opportunities. Marketers should use tablets to enhance discovery and depth.”

Tablet users are multi-taskers

Marketers should be focusing on tablet users because these are highly influential users, with U.S. online adult tablet owners more likely to post or write opinions of products on social media sites, blogs and forums than the average U.S. online adult. These users also have higher incomes and are more educated than the average.

Additionally, the number of tablet users is growing, with Forrester forecasting that the installed base of consumer-owned tablets to grow from 288 million to 738 million between 2013 and 2017.

Tablet users also spend less time with other forms of media such as desktop, laptop and print newspapers, meaning the best way to reach these users is via tablets.

Fairmont Hotels & Resorts iPad app

Tablet owners primarily use their devices via Wi-Fi at home, during the evening, either in the living room, the bedroom or the kitchen. This means they are not typically mobile devices such as smartphones are.

Tablets users also tend to spend more time per session than on smartphones as they browse the Internet, research products and watch videos.

Key findings include that 32 percent of U.S. online adult consumers who own a laptop, a smartphone and tablet are multitasking more than half the time while watching TV versus 22 percent of the average online adult consumer. While the laptop is still the favored device for multitasking, consumers are more likely to use their tablets than their smartphones to browse online.

Contextual marketing

Tablet users are already researching products and purchasing products via their devices, with Forrester expecting that tablet commerce will eventually outpace mobile commerce.

Tablet owners are also increasingly using their devices to control their home and technologies.

To leverage tablets for reaching an audience, Forrester recommends marketers focus on how customers discover products and go deeper through research and content. This means leveraging search marketing to drive better conversion rates and tablet commerce, creating immersive experiences that facilitate discovery and supporting exploration as well as leveraging apps and content to enrich TV viewing.

To create differentiated tablet marketing, marketers need to leverage tablet-unique features such as gesture control and integrated social features.

Marketers should also design tablet-specific experiences, monitor the evolution of their tablet audience and localize their tablet approach.

In the end, though, what is most important is that marketers consider the context of digital users as the definitions between devices are blurring and all of these devices are part of a continuum of computing devices with at least two dimensions: mobility and connectivity.

This means that what matters is understanding how and in which context a target audience is engaging with these devices throughout the day.

“Too many marketers lump smartphones and tablets in the same mobile bucket,” Mr. Husson said. “They don't create differentiated tablet experiences while their customers use smartphones differently than tablets.

“Not surprisingly, tablets owners are more likely to multitask while watching TV,” he said. “Thirty-two percent of U.S. online adult consumers (ages 18-plus) who own a laptop, a smartphone and a tablet are multitasking more than half the time while watching TV versus only 22 percent of average online adult consumers.

“However, I was surprised to find out that the laptop is still the favored device when multitasking. People are only more likely to use their tablets than smartphones to browse the Web, research products, and watch other online video during the TV broadcast.”