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Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Another way the iPad is killing the newspapers

Truth be told, way before I worked as a digital vampire, I never really liked paper newspapers all that much.   They were big, bulky, and dirty.  The ink rubbing off on my hands made me never want to touch the stuff. Figuring out the perfect fold so that you could actually read the paper while upright, fuggetaboutit.

Growing up, the rest of my family was into reading the newspaper though, and especially the Sunday Chicago Tribune.  I don't know many people in the Chicago area who didn't group up getting the huge Sunday Tribune, in many cases on Saturday night.  However, the only part of the paper I ever really read was what we called "the Coupons", and in Chicago, that's pronounced "Q-pons."

I guess what I really liked was not the coupons themselves, but what I now know as the "Sunday Circulars" - that is, really just the ads, mostly from electronics stores like Best Buy where you could see what was coming out on "Tune-in Tuesday" and the other odd electronics that you could only see here way before Engadget existed.  I guess that's what stuck with me the most from the newspaper era.

Really, the only ones I look at these days are from Target (and still Best Buy).  I still make weekly trips to Target to get the week's family supplies.

So when I saw Target's new iPad app appear in the App Store yesterday, I was intrigued.  After loading it up, I could see what it was: an iPad version of the Sunday Circular.   Yes, I had downloaded an ad from the App Store.

At first, I felt slightly let down, but after playing with it for 5 seconds I quickly changed my mind.  This app is cool.  And useful.

It just looks like a circular ad
First, it automatically uses your location to find the nearest store to you.  From there you can not only look at the ad itself but search for anything Target carries, and it will tell you if the item is in stock there.

There's also the shopping list.  This isn't a static image like I first thought.  You can actually drag and drop any item from what you are looking at to the shopping list below.   In the screen shot below, the Assassin's Creed game is mid drag and drop.

Dragging and dropping Asssassin's Creed to the list.

Finally, when you are done, you have a shopping list, that you can email, most likely to your phone so you can go to the store and work through your list.

Your list, go ahead and mail it.
So that's pretty interesting to me - that Target got to me with their brand, I downloaded an app that is really an ad (or is it an ad that is really an app?) and the sure end result of this is that I will probably buy more from Target.   

The next step here of course, is for them to start promoting this app in other iPad apps through display ads inside of those apps.  It will be difficult for Target to track purchases from running these campaigns, but I think the number of downloads will act as a pretty good conversion indicator.

I think we've just seen the tip of the iceberg on driving transactions from tablet devices.  There's a lot of interesting thinking going on here, and this is just one example of how innovation is happening specific to these devices.

At any rate, Best Buy has an app for this too, that works with the iPhone and iPad, but isn't quite as flashy - so I guess between these two, I'm officially done with paper newspapers.   Rest in peace.

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