The quandary with the tablet is that it's more than a new media vehicle -- it's a new media environment. Here are some guidelines on how to approach tablet metrics.
Launch Pad speakers at this year's Breakthrough Summit, David Smith and Marcus Pratt, gave Rancho Mirage audience members the bad news first: Everything we know about tablet metrics is wrong. Tablet media is going to provide levels of engagement that have never before been seen -- yet major media publishers are still applying print media metrics to tablets.
"There's no correlation between the iPad app and the newsletter," Smith, CEO and founder of Mediasmith, explained. Among the differences is the lack of "readers per copy" on tablet devices. Tablets are largely becoming personal accessories -- one for each member of the family -- and readers per copy can't be applied in the way it would for a print newspaper, which an entire family would share.
Pratt, the associate director of insights and technology at Mediasmith, pointed out that using mobile metrics for tablets is also a mistake. Users spend more time with tablet apps than smartphone apps. In addition, 20 percent of iPad usage occurs in bed, highlighting the difference between tablet and mobile devices.
Planning which metrics to use for tablets is difficult, and Smith accused publishers of finding an easy scapegoat in Apple, and placing too much of the blame on "Apple issues." Smith and Pratt informed the audience of their weighty responsibility: "You, as buyers of media, have to push the publishers by directing them to the metrics that you need."
Interestingly, the problems facing tablet metrics are similar to issues that arose in 1997 on the early web, when there was a noticeable lack of benchmarks. The quandary with the tablet is that it's more than a new media vehicle -- it's a new media environment.
The mindset we should be embracing, Pratt said, is based on recognizing that the tablet facilitates more than one medium, and every medium needs separate metrics. The next steps are tracking across apps, browsers, and platforms; increasing the use of location; using front-facing cameras; creating more advanced web applications in HTML5; and improving experience in web visitation and "return-to-app."
So what's on Smith and Pratt's basic wish list? "Serving across platforms, time spent with an app or ad, engagement, and pages viewed are all areas where this new paradigm is immediately applicable." The pair also hypothesized that applying existing video metrics to tablet applications will generate even more valuable data. The end goal? Everything we know is right, when it comes to tablet metrics.
Lucia Davis is associate editor for iMedia Connection.
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