At ad:tech: The promise of the tablet

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San Francisco—Though it's only been a little over a year since the iPad debuted, platform devices have come to dominate much of the discussion at marketing and media conferences. This week's ad:tech San Francisco is no exception.

There's no doubt the iPad launch has been a success, with more than 14 million of the devices sold in 2010, said Andrew Solmssen, managing director of WPP's Possible Worldwide, who moderated an ad:tech session Tuesday on tablets and advertising.

“Marketers are just not sure where this fits into the overall mix,” he said. As an example, he said that Nielsen Inc. hadn't decided how to characterize tablet devices.

With such a new platform, marketers have an opportunity to define how consumers use it, Solmssen said, adding light-heartedly, “So don't screw it up.”

What's crucial, he said, is that marketers take advantage of what the new medium offers. “So many of the tablet ads now, I can't tell if it's a static ad, like a print ad, or something I'm going to interact with. People are forgetting a lot of the core principles.”

In the same session, Mike Fischer, CMO of Coldwell Banker Real Estate, discussed his company's success with a full-page iPad ad it rolled out in the past three weeks. The ad has generated engagement times of more than one minute, with an average of 11 pages viewed, and “tap rates” five times higher than click-through rates for online banners, he said.

In an end-of-the day keynote address filled with generally gloomy predictions for the newspaper and movie industries, Jeffrey Cole, director of the Annenberg Center for the Digital Future at the University of Southern California, ended on a high note when he got to the iPad.

“I really believe the iPad is transformational,” said Cole, who is also director of the World Internet Project.

“I've never seen a device in my experience that came this close to getting it right the first time.”

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