I’ve been tracking a package via FedEx today – my long awaited iPad 3G shipped and should be here tomorrow and it got me thinking about several things. First, I’m excited about the possibilities in magazine content coupled with a fantastic online experience. The joining of clean layouts and dynamic content brings a whole slew of opportunities for both publisher and advertiser. And although many publishers are hoping the device can save outdated business models focused on print, my firm opinion is this will not be the case. If you have an outstanding online strategy already, mobile hardware devices bring new ways to connect and interact on users terms, but any one device is not going to salvage poor business planning.
So over the past few years, we’ve been mobilizing all our web sites in one form or another and will continue to push to enhance our efforts here. Since the iPad has a large screen, it has made me pause in whats the best approach now for this device in the short term. If you re-direct a web client from the iPad to a mobile site better optimized for Droid, iPhone or RIM – this does not make much sense; you would miss out on the iPad’s immersive touch technology and graphics among other things. To display the standard site, it appears there is not going to be Flash on any iPad anytime soon (read Steve Jobs public post on the matter).
So currently we’re stripping out several Flash elements from Design World and re-tooling to display on mobile devices and be more SEO friendly, but this leaves Flash banner advertising an open issue. Users browsing on non Flash enabled devices will not be able to view Flash advertising – or at a minimum will only get a failover image. I know some users probably welcome that outcome, but thats another story. Our ad server is capable of handling very large Flash files, but much smaller animated GIF files – so trying to reduce a GIF down on a catchy banner ad looks like crap. Now, there are work-around for this, but we do not always directly recommend. Flash is a great tool- albeit overcomplicated to do simple things at times – but provides advertisers a powerful way to deliver messages. But it appears there is no apparent replacement or alternative to Flash ads. It seems the conversation is pretty quiet when it comes to this. My reaction to the whole Flash mobile issue is to advocate non-Flash ads betting on the adoption of Apple products. So then the technology work around and implementation falls back on the publisher to accomodate – a good problem to have in my book.
My iPad better get here soon, we have a lot of work to do.