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iPad Sparks New Way For Retailers to Advertise

In a move to gauge the iPad’s marketing potential, retailers and brands are starting to place interactive ads in digital magazine publications featured on the tablet, hoping their early adoption of new technology may help them swoon new consumers and target their primary audience.

Apple iPad with Macy's ad
Barbara Sax | AFP | Getty Images
Apple iPad with Macy's ad

Macy’s is one of the first retailers to try their hand at pushing products on Apple's new tablet via ads in digital publications and the retailer is confident their efforts will pay off, Martine Reardon, Macy's executive vice president of marketing and advertising, said.

“You see a huge push into the digital space, mainly because it’s where the customers are,” Reardon said. “The more that we are out there doing new things, the better off I think we are.”

The retailers’ ad is currently featured in over 20 magazines that are available for subscription on the iPad, including Elle, Harper’s Bazaar and Marie Claire. The ad for Macy’s appears in the publications as another page, but allows for the reader to also access a slideshow that features new items from Macy’s catalogue.

With more than two million iPads sold since Apple launched the tablet in early April, there is no doubt marketers are excited about the iPad’s potential reach. But is being the first to invest in advertising in digital publications featured on the iPad the best marketing move? For retailers, it might be.

“If your audience is on a new screen, you are smart to be there,” Neil Strother, the mobile marketing strategies practice director for ABI Research, said. “You have the advantage of being first and you learn what works and what doesn’t, that’s the sense that we are seeing.”

But being first does more than teach marketers what works and what doesn’t, its also gives them what Strother calls a "pioneer status" or "cache" that helps them win market share.

“It gives consumers a sense that a retailer is available in a new way other than their competitors. Eventually competitors will catch up, but they will own a segment of that publication in a way, they will get some of those eyeballs,” said Strother. “That’s what every marketer wants and that is a new way to do it, on a new device.”

Also, because magazines target certain demographics, Macy's can better place ads to target their primary consumer, women in their 30's and 40's, Reardon said.

Retailers 'Knocking Down The Doors'

Macy’s worked with Zinio to develop their ad and place it in digital magazines on the iPad. Zinio has been creating digitized versions of print magazines for more than 10 years and works with marketers to place ads in the magazines it recreates on a digital platform.

Although Zinio has created other interactive ads in magazines in the digital form for other devices, like computers, the Macy’s ad is the first interactive retailer ad that is optimized for the iPad. But it will certainly not be the last, said Jeanniey Mullen, the global executive vice president and chief marketing officer of Zinio.

“We have a huge list of advertisers that are knocking down the doors to get their ads in these magazines,” said Mullen.

One reason advertisers may find Zinio’s approach to advertising appealing is because of their program ZPAN, or Zinio's Publishing Advertising Network, which allows advertisers to cross-publish ads in magazines of one or more categories, not just in an individual magazine.

For example, a marketer may want to place an interactive ad for a women's retailer in a fashion magazine that is featured on the iPad, but because an individual magazines' digital circulation may be significantly smaller than the print version, the retailer may be hesitant to invest in the form of advertising. Yet, with Zinio's program the retailer has the option of placing their ad with an entire category of magazines that partner with Zinio, like their women's fashion magazines.

Each individual magazine decides if they will accept the ad for placement and Zinio and the publications split the revenue. This approach to placing ads allows advertisers to reach a broader swath of their primary consumers.

Another feature Zinio hopes to offer marketers soon is the ability for consumers to make purchases straight from ads in digital publications featured on the iPad, Mullen said. But that is just one of the many projects in the works, she said.

"From a direct marketing standpoint, the opportunities that tablets open up to redefine business models in a profitable manner are absolutely insane," said Mullen. "We haven't even begun to scratch the surface. There is stuff that will develop three or four months from now that people would not have even thought possible."

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Questions? Comments? Email us at consumernation@cnbc.com

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