In our latest media leader Q&A, OMD U.S. CEO Alan Cohen explained how marketers can make the most of tablets, whether magazines should sell ads in tablet editions separately and why everyone at his agency gets training in Apple technology.
Advertising Age: How do you see tablets fitting into the media mix?
Alan Cohen: Tablets are one of the devices that ultimately change engagement and the way people digest media, because tablets enhance advertising and content blending.
We had an exclusive Flipboard deal for three months in 2011 where we had several OMD clients in an experiment -- Pepsi, Gatorade, Infiniti, CW Television Network, Showtime, Levi's, Dockers, Hilton Worldwide, GE, Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau, and Standup2cancer.org. Flipboard aggregated your social graph with the magazines you might read to create a custom magazine for you. That first deal has evolved into a close relationship with [Flipboard] that continues today.
We are still working with Flipboard to fine-tune its offering and are working with clients to develop "brand magazines" on the platform.
Ad Age : How do tablets change engagement?
Mr. Cohen: Tablets are anywhere from 1% to 3% of the total circulation right now for magazines, so they're not about scale or efficiency. But they're a way to test more engaging and innovative opportunities. We've done that , for example, with Lowe's and Gatorade. Gatorade looked at tablets as an extension of print and wanted to be an innovator, so it partnered with Sports Illustrated in tablets.
Ad Age : Some media agencies recently asked magazines to offer separate circulation guarantees for print and for digital. Is it OK for magazines to count tablet editions toward a single unified rate base, or do you want publishers to offer separate rate base for print and for digital?
Mr. Cohen: If it's a similar experience as the same magazine and it's measured and audited, we won't say 'No, we aren't interested.'
But I think the real advantage is that tablets are so different, it becomes a digital platform. Magazines are becoming more like billboards: You pass them, look at them, they make a statement to get your attention and you have to see it on another platform then to act. But in tablets, you can take it to another level. We're not against putting them together, but we are trying to create different experiences so we are willing to pay separately.
Ad Age : What is the best way for advertisers to make the most of tablets?
Mr. Cohen: The tablet space is something everyone should be learning as much about as they can because it's taking over these other media experiences like TV, email, surfing the web.
We encourage our advertisers to go further in experimentation to take advantage of any opportunity any publisher is offering and get the learnings. But we would tell our advertisers to customize the creative. Don't just do what you do in print.
We also have trained every employee here at OMD in Apple technology, in mobile and in apps. You have to be Apple-certified to work at OMD because Apple has been pioneering the way for advertisers on these apps.
Ad Age : Can you advertise effectively in apps themselves?
Mr. Cohen: We built a Monster app for job interviews that assists in each step of the job-search process and many users come to that from an ad for it in another app. Apps can be robust places and the ads in them can be relevant depending on the state of mind. Many app ads are in your face, but sometimes you'd rather be in the app that 's being advertised than the one you started in.