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Guest Post: How the Hottest Holiday Gifts Will Change Digital Advertising in 2012

2012 January 11
by Greg Satell

“I got an iPad for Christmas and didn’t even ask for one.”

“My parents bought me a Kindle for some reason.”

Over the Christmas holidays, I got a lot of emails from friends asking for advice on their favorite unexpected Christmas gifts: tablets and e-readers.

My lucky friends represent an important trend taking place in digital marketing: the increased adoption of Post-PC devices like tablets and e-readers that are changing how people consume media and engage with brands.

Here at Moxie we conducted a survey in 2011 on Post-PC Marketing and gleaned some interesting insights (check it out here), but now that the holiday season has passed we can take another look at how tablets and e-readers will change the digital marketing landscape in 2012 and beyond.

The Curious Case of the Financial Times

Back in November, the Financial Times’ Chief Executive John Ridding announced that the company’s content revenues could equal or exceed print advertising revenues for the first time ever.

The Financial Times, thanks to their core audience, has been one of the few mainstream publications to implement paywalls and digital subscriptions effectively to build revenue in the face of declining print ad sales.

The Financial Times has also successfully avoided Apple’s subscription charges, where Apple takes a percentage of any subscription sold through an app, by launching a web app that has been downloaded over 1 million times. The effort has been so successful that the Financial Times actually acquired its HTML5 developer, Assanka, just the other day.

But publishers shouldn’t bank on repeating the success of the Financial Times. A study from Pew in October found that among tablet owners, 14% of tablet news consumers have paid to access content on their tablets, while another 23% have print subscriptions that include access to tablet versions of the content.

Having more than a third of tablet owners that have paid for print content is encouraging, but the truth is that most people haven’t paid to access the news on their tablets, and only a fraction of that group (21%) would be willing to pay $5 a month if it was the only way to access their favorite news outlet.

Amazon and Publishers

The iPad has seen its first real challenger in the tablet space with Amazon’s Kindle Fire.

The Kindle Fire has been red hot, and publishers are starting to take the device seriously in 2012. One reason is that Amazon is giving away free 3 month subscriptions to featured magazines to every Kindle Fire customer.

The momentum around the device, and tablet news consumption in general, has gotten USA Today to commit to producing an app specifically for the Kindle Fire.

The catch? The Kindle Fire can run Android apps, but not all Kindle Fire apps run on other versions of Android. The fragmentation of the Android platform, with Amazon going one way and Google the other, is going to leave publishers with plenty of strange options for their tablet strategies in 2012.

But fragmentation may not matter if Amazon has its way. Mobile ad network Millennial Media has seen impressions from the Kindle Fire growing 19% each day.

Digital Advertising in 2012

In 2012 marketers will need to start taking tablets and e-readers more seriously. The Financial Times model won’t be easy for every publisher to replicate, especially since many new tablet owners won’t be early adopters with the higher disposable incomes we saw in 2011.

Publishers will not only be looking to cash in on their content, but also to use the enhanced targeting and tracking capabilities of digital to lure advertisers back into advertising on tablet versions of trusted media properties.

When the publishers come knocking with their new tablet subscriber data, brands will embrace tablet-based advertising more confidently, and agencies will need to be ready to innovate and use the unique features of tablets and e-readers to create great Post-PC campaigns for their clients.

– Simeon Spearman

Simeon Spearman is a Digital Strategist at Moxie and holds a Masters in Future Studies from the University of Houston.  You can follow him on Twitter @srspear

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