Publishers Are Missing A Huge Opportunity By Ignoring Tablets And Smartphones

ipad, typing, mobile advertising conference, june 2012, bi, dng

Photo: Daniel Goodman / Business Insider

Most of us who have worked in digital over the last few years have expected the day to arrive when our devices no longer needed physical keyboards or a mouse.The movie Minority Report was the only indication we needed that it would only be a few years until there was no longer a need for a controller of any kind other than your own hands and mouth. 

What has shocked me of late is the slow rate of adoption among publishers and marketers to embrace touch-optimised experiences. I thought we all could see that the market is heading in that direction at breakneck speed.  Today, publishers are seeing upwards of 30% of their site traffic coming from tablets and smartphones.  And for those not paying attention, these devices have a demonstrably different user engagement experience, which ultimately demands a completely different design approach. 

While I cannot claim to be a touch-optimised expert, I sure know what I like when I see it.  Flipboard was one of the first companies to take a fresh approach to the user engagement experience and, I’d say, they’ve done a nice job given the limitations associated with the current RSS feeds and open APIs of the various blog platforms they integrate.  I use Flipboard on my iPhone every day and can’t imagine reading any other way. It is a clean, efficient, and personalised experience that works for me.  It also is connected to my various social platforms, which makes Flipboard a great way to share articles, music and other relevant information with my friends and followers. 

So, you may ask, where does the marketer fit in?  Publishers have a tremendous opportunity to put the marketer squarely in the middle of the conversation.  Like the old news hole in print, publishers can deliver a highly interactive and impactful creative execution that improves a brand’s value and heightens the conversation immensely with little to no impact on consumer experience.  Marketers and publishers alike need to stop trying to program tablets like the legacy desktop. They should step back and take a fresh and simple approach to introducing brands and content to consumers. We might be amazed at the results. It isn’t hard to imagine tablets passing 50% of site traffic in less than a year and nearing 75% in 24 months.   

Keep an eye out for Quartz from The Atlantic.  They are one of the first publishers I’m aware of that has crossed the chasm and fully adopted the tablet as their priority consumption platform launching this fall.  I am excited at the opportunity for publishers to push our consumption patterns forward.

Which publishers have you seen stepping out and focusing on the future engagement paradigm?

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