Apple debuts iPad mini, moves to dominate mobile ad market — challenging travel companies
Apple unveiled its much-anticipated iPad mini today, a tablet with a screen measuring 7.9 inches on the diagonal, a dual-core A5 processor, a 5 megapixel camera, and 512MB of RAM — with prices starting at $329.
It’s amazing the amount of excitement that an over-sized iPhone can create. But the one-handed tablet category is a huge market for travellers.
Colours: Black and white. It’s 23% thinner and 53% lighter than the previous, fourth-generation device, with what the company claims is a 10-hour battery life.
(The existing iPad range also received an update with a more powerful A6X chip, “twice the computing performance,” and new camera, starting at $499 for the 16GB version.)
It’s actually an advertising play
The new tablet is obviously relevant to the travel industry because of its slim size and comparatively cheaper price may make it popular for travellers on airplanes and at holiday spots. Apple claims 90% of Web searches on tablets are done on its iPads.
Yet the larger strategic move by Apple may be its effort to appeal to advertisers with tablet-optimised advertising by becoming the industry standard for tablet-optimised ads.
Spending on mobile advertising campaigns optimised for tablets is forecast to jump about 25% during the 2012 holiday season, overtaking smartphones advertising for the first time, according to mobile marketing agency MC Saatchi.
While advertisers are practised in creating ad units for differently sized screens, they could benefit if Apple a platform that attracts the most users will enable a standardised set of sizes will be the platform that mobile advertisers will covet the most.
Build your ad once, and it’ll reach your target audience without worrying about breaking or failure.
It’s no accident that the iPad mini has a ratio precisely, proportionally smaller than the fourth-generation iPads (9.7-inches to 7.9 inches), so that ads already designed to work well on older, larger iPads will look just as nice on iPad minis.
Tablet devices also lend themselves to country- or city geo-targeting (such as an ad for a candlelight canal cruise when you’re visiting Amsterdam) and time of day targeting (such as a sale on umbrellas when its raining).
The sweetest spot in mobile advertising is video and animation with interactivity, and 7-inch-screen tablets are proving to be the ideal size for engaging users with ads.
Apple also hopes to be a market leader in helping advertisers have a continuity in messaging and user-tracking as customers move between devices.
Apple’s recently introduced iCloud service could help advertisers target someone with a relevant ad for, say, a vacation to Fiji, when they’re using their tablet if computers recognised that the same user had interacted with a Fiji advertisment while playing with their tablet device the previous night.
Related ad developments
Last week, mobile advertising platform Mojiva launched an ad network exclusive to tablet devices, signaling an industry-wide trend that will complicate the lives of marketers at travel companies.
Apple is expected to shortly launch a YouTube app that is both optimised for the variously-sized iPad screens and that include advertisements (unlike the ad-free version of the YouTube app that has been standard to date).
Actions to think about
How well do your webpages look in the standard or landscape versions of an iPad, compared with the websites of the Yelp, TripAdvisor, and the Guggenheim Museum which were showcased by Apple during its presentation today?
If nearly 30% of e-mail message openings now happen on mobile and tablet devices, are your marketing messages tailored to be easily read on mobile devices.
Remember that about half of users of social networks access these networks from their mobile and tablet devices. Is your marketing message optimised to encourage a customer to quickly share it?
More broadly, are your calls-to-action and links mobile-optimised? Do you need to tweak your search campaigns for tablet users?
Google, of course, is also interested in mobile-optimised advertising, and has an ad-network that runs across all Android devices.
Sean O’Neill is a New Jersey-based reporter for Tnooz. He is also a daily contributor of consumer news to LonelyPlanet.com.
He used to work for BBC Travel, BudgetTravel.com, and Kiplinger's, and used to live in London, New York City, and Washington, DC.