Tablet use is on the rise, the rapid rise. The latest PEW Internet study revealed iPads, other tablet computers and ebook readers were a very popular Christmas gift over the recent holiday season. The number of Americans owning at least one of these digital reading devices jumped from 18% in December to 29% in January. Wow! That’s a lot of growth in just a few weeks’ time. And it doesn’t look to be stopping. There are also two other statistics that should get screen media folk excited:
- Tablet users love to consume media (reading, playing, watching, listening are all top activities);
- Tablet users love to shop (a number of studies show they are more likely than smartphone or computer users to buy what they see).
As we try to figure out how to make a living in film, television, webseries and transmedia it seems like iPads and other tablet computers may hold the key to engaging with audiences in an increasingly profitable way. To do that we need to understand how the tablet experience is different than other ways of consuming media and how to connect with and appeal to this important demographic.
Mobile – They’re light and portable. People love their tablets and often carry them everywhere they can.
Homey – Even though they are portable, recent studies show that often users are on their tablets at home after business hours. In fact, the kitchen is becoming a popular place to access tablet content like recipes and video cooking tutorials.
Interactive – The tablet user is not a passive consumer of content. They are multitasking, often using the tablet as a second screen to browse the web or engage in other ways while they watch television or using them for gaming experiences like “Angry Birds” and “Scrabble.”
Social – Facebook, Twitter, YouTube are all second nature to the tablet owner with social networking ranking right up with media consumption as a popular activity.
Intimate – While “lean forward” and “lean back” are common ways of thinking about how audiences interact with media, it has been suggested that the tablet is a “curl up” device that encourages us to engage and absorb content in closer proximity, in settings like the couch or bed. Even “swiping” the screen directly to navigate instead of “clicking” seems to create less distance between the user and the device.
So we should be…
Visual – Tablet screens are great, but the technology is just going to get better. With more screen real estate than a smartphone, it is critical that any tablet friendly website or app be visually appealing and make the most of the space it offers.
Engaging – Social network integration is a no-brainer here, but think of all the other ways you can interact with the tablet audience. Is there supplemental content or information you can provide that engages their interest and provides real value beyond passive content consumption? This is an audience that wants more.
Context sensitive – Also be aware of where your audience is, what they are doing, and what device they are using. With tablets this could mean not just where people are in a city, but where they are in their home, and what time of day it is. If authentic to your project, is there a way to encourage use and engagement in certain places and contexts?
Seamless – Whether following a show from device to or from a branded website to a Facebook page to a mobile app, the audience does not want to be jarred. It is important that each part of the show, its delivery and all of its content make sense as part of the larger whole and in every context. If this is not seamless, you risk disorienting and alienating this increasingly agile and mobile audience.
Playful – On tablets, games are big, but not every screen media property requires a game. However, you may want to think about ways to add game type interaction or mechanics to the experience you offer, to engage your audience and keep them coming back for more. (Just make sure you do it well).
And in the future…
Tablets are currently not great for content creation, but as the technology improves (gets faster, has greater capacity) I can see tablets being a key factor to encourage and facilitate user generated content as part of the web ecology of a screen media property. All of the lessons above can help inform a strategy that includes this kind of UGC.
Today’s tablet owner is an early adopter. They represent the “new” audience – the one that wants more and is willing to pay for it. Screen media creators who start now to play with them and learn from them will be so much ahead of those who don’t. The “old” audience sitting passively in front of the TV or in the movie theatre belongs to the broadcasters and distributors. This “new” audience is your future – a collaborator who is willing to pay.
What do you think?
Do you think iPad and other tablet computers hold the secret to successful business models for film, television, webseries and transmedia creators? Do they represent the “new” audience best? Please share your thoughts, ideas, questions below or send them to me at annelise (at) veria.ca or on Twitter @veriatweet.
Next issue: My Smash Social TV Wish List
Or revisit the previous issue: When Marketing Becomes the Product: Or How to Alienate Your Audience