Changes afoot for iAd

According to reports in the digital media press, iAd is contacting UK agencies about changes in their pricing policy and structure. In the US, the minimum spend has already been reduced from $1m to $100k, but it seems there will be even further developments. Currently iAd uses a ‘hybrid’ (or double) pricing model of both CPM and CPC for its advertising, which is a major barrier for advertisers. Apple are also expected to increase payouts to developers in order to create further distribution of ad content.

The expected changes come at a time when the mobile advertising market is hotting up. Google’s Admob has moved closer to the Adwords model and Facebook are likely to launch a major mobile ad initiative before the spring. Back in June 2011, I wrote that Apple seemed to be losing interest in iAd and a report by The Digital Times suggested that the recent moves are a last-ditch attempt save the project. Apple have driven the consumer market in mobile, but have failed to ignite the world of advertising. With the amount of profit they’re making, I suspect they’re not too worried about it.

Tablets: key usage statistics

How are we using our iPads and tablet devices?

Apple’s CEO, Tim Cook announced at Goldman Sachs that tablets will overtake PC sales by the end of 2012. So what is the current state of the tablet market? Whilst there is no single, complete source of data, it is possible to create an overall picture by cobbling the different bits of information together.

We know from Tim Cook’s statement that 55 million iPads have been sold in the 18 months since Apple’s tablet first appeared. That makes it more successful in terms of sales rate than the iPhone (3 years to 55 million) and much more successful that the iPod. The iPad dominates the market in wherever it is sold and although there has been some growth in Android-type devices, Apple are still way ahead of the game. The following chart uses Comscore data to show the penetration of tablet devices. These stats do not include readers, such as the Kindle:

Tablet Users do More

In the US, Comscore tell us that nearly 98% of tablet data usage is from the iPad. As with the iPhone, it would seem that users do more of everything than other devices. They are also beginning to overtake desktop usage. Comscore’s November 2011 figures show that tablets represent 30% of non-desktop traffic. That is considerably higher than the percentage of ownership of ownership.

When it comes to purchasing, tablets also perform well. A study by Adobe Research over the 2011 US holiday period found that tablet users spend 54% longer on sites than mobile users, and purchase over 20% more than desktop visitors. The following chart shows a comparison using average retail order value:

The high sale value is partly down to the ease of use of the devices. In an IAB study in December 2011, nearly half of respondents said they used their tablet because it was ‘the easiest to pick up’ and 37% said that it offered the easiest user interface. But it is also about the user demographic. Tablets tend to be bought by more affluent demographics in the 24-35 age bracket. Given that the tablet is not a PC replacement, but an additional (yet another) device, that is hardly surprising. Comscore tell us that in Europe 34% of iPad users also own an iPhone.

Last Thing at Night (and First Thing In the Morning)

Data from Nielsen in 2011 found that 70% of tablet owners use it in front of the TV. Clearly, the iPad is the device for two screening. Interestingly though, the iPad is used in bed by nearly 60% of owners and appears to be replacing the book at bedtime. That figure is similar to smartphone use, but with tablets the spike at the end of the day is even more pronounced. Both the IAB study and data from Comscore in the US show that later in the evening, tablets are used more than mobile or television.

It’s All About Relationships

The lesson for brands is that tablets are different. They are neither mobile nor PC devices. When it comes to engaging users, tablets need their own strategy. It’s more about entertainment, rich media and longer-form reading… last thing at night.

Love me? Love me not? M&S uses AR for Valentines Day

The Marks and Spencer Valentine’s day Aurasma campaign seems to have had mixed reactions. Using an outdoor poster in Waterloo Station, users are invited to download the Aursama app and view their range of lingerie. The concept is clever and is the best executed Aurasma campaign to date. Ostensibly aimed at men who are short of a Valentine’s gift (although it is likely to appeal to women as well), the advert uses the tagline ‘Love stuck’. The approach makes sense. We know from QR codes that men are more likely to scan than women and the location of the poster in Waterloo ensures sufficient dwell time to interact with it. Using the Aurasma app, the poster almost literally comes to life as models show off the underwear range.

There have been some, arguably prudish, reactions against an app that has women prancing around in their underwear. On a practical level though, users have had problems scanning the poster. Aurasma doesn’t seem to work as well as the other popular IR app, Blippar. The high position of the poster in Waterloo also makes the scanning even harder. The problem with mobile is that users won’t tolerate poor experiences before branding it as a fail.

Similar in concept to Net A Porter’s Window Shop, a campaign like this only reaches a limited audience. But it’s not about reach. These are essentially PR exercises and perhaps a test of the potential of consumer engagement of the technology. To date M&S have taken a more classic, but very successful approach to mobile, focussing on SMS and mobile web. It’s good to see them experimenting a bit.

If you want to see it in action, then scan the image below, or you can read more about their campaign here.

PayPal does a Tesco’s Korea: shopping with QR

Following the much touted success of Tesco Korea’s Homeplus service, PayPal have followed suit by launching a similar effort in Singapore. The pilot scheme takes advantage of the WiFi in Singapore’s subways, not to mention the 70% smartphone penetration that the country enjoys. The company explained their ambitions in a recent blog post. Although QR has generally been poorly received by consumers, and badly implemented by brands, Tesco set a precedent by using the technology to deliver their service to a very tech-savvy and connected audience. Maybe PayPal will manage the same thing in Singapore …

Say it with QR this Valentines

Unsure if you should be celebrating Valentines this year? Frankie Midnight Private Investigator may be able to help. Using a film-noir style, the online detective checks your Facebook page and delivers a report based on interactions with your ‘loved’ one.

The innovative campaign from Isobar Mobile and out of home agency, Posterscope makes clever use of outdoor, QR codes, HTML5 and Facebook’s api to create an engaging mobile-based experience. With the posters appearing in over 300 sites around the UK, it is a great demonstration of how mobile can bring together different media to create one engaging campaign. You can either find Frankie PI by scanning the code on the posters, via Twitter #Frankiepi_14, or alternatively simply point your mobile browser to or .

Super Bowl + Shazam for TV = Massive

A major benefit of the increased use of smartphones is advertising response. You see an ad, and you can immediately connect to the brand through your phone. In TV, SMS has been the most commonly used method, and it has been pretty successful. QR codes have also been tried with less proven results – it’s a pain having to open the QR reader and move towards the TV to scan it. However, audio response, or audio tagging could be the new killer app for TV response.

Most people know Shazam as a music tagging service, but the UK company are about to make a big impact in the world of advertising with Shazam for TV. They have already tried other advertising applications and the TV service has been used on some US adverts for a few months. However the ad fest that is The Super Bowl will see Shazam tags used in half of the adverts. The great advantage of audio tagging is the ease with which they can tag an ad. Unlike SMS it’s just a single tap to engage and unlike QR, it works seamlessly from the sofa.

Shazam are not the only audio tagging service for TV. IntoNow, which was acquired by Yahoo does a similar job. But Shazam has one a major advantage. They have users. 165 million of them to be exact. They have more users than Google+ or Bebo and 10 times the user base of Foursquare or Instagram. With such a significant audience the potential of Shazam TV could be massive.

More Shazam-able ads here: