How Tablets Could Influence Online Marketing

Rumors of this year’s new electronic devices are bubbling as the first week of a new year wakes up from a light doze. Google phones (Nexus One just announced), a possible Apple tablet (Apple Mobility event Jan 27th), and more eReaders (Barnes & Noble nook just won Best New Gadget award at the Crunchies). With every new device comes a new channel of communication and marketers have to adapt to that. Will there be new marketing opportunities? Will it spark a new media trend? Will it support interactive technology like Flash? Will we be ready for it?

When considering the potential of the rumored tablet devices, sites like Hulu, Fox, TED, and other video broadcasters could gain a lot of ground. If these tablets have Wi-Fi, it will be a nice viewing alternative to small mobile screens and heavy laptops. It could also mean a drastic increase in traffic to video sites, which will attract more ad traffic (though I’ll miss my 0-30 sec commercial breaks). This will create a new way of thinking about video and advertising. Commercials you can interact with (that is, if it plays Flash!). Mix that with the technology to pin point the user’s location and demographic, and the local bakery could have its own digital TV commercial.

This sounds great, but if we’re talking about a device created by Apple, we have to question if they’ll go down the internet path (Hulu) or stick to their iTunes media model (pay for and download movies, music, TV, etc.)? Some fresh rumors are Google is working on their own tablet, so competing with an internet maven will be risky.

I’ll be interested to see where this goes. I think my forecast is that Apple will continue to be the well managed ‘friendly at a price’ device and Google will be the internet ‘here are a million free books, songs, and videos but you have to view these ads’ device.

Regardless, I believe a surge in micro video production mixed with interactive programming is on the horizon. But, will the tablets play Flash?


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