What does Mobile World Congress mean for marketers?
March 6, 2013
Martin Lange Martin Lange is executive marketing director of digital strategy at Ogilvy & Mather
By Martin Lange
The biggest news for marketers is that we are on the cusp of a new period where marketing, not just spectrum software or features, will begin to drive the growth of mobility.
The marketing industry will be one important partner for wireless carriers in the fight against decreasing revenues from voice services. Since data revenues cannot make up for this loss yet, our industry can step in.
Exhibitors such as Qualcomm have come to appreciate the power of the consumer’s demand for computing power in phones.
These technology companies are showcasing marketing friendly solutions such as the new Vuforia AR platform from Qualcomm. And marketers as attendees were actively looking for new opportunities, business models and revenue streams last week at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain.
The packed house for Keith Weed’s keynote titled “Marketing: Brands Go Mobile” attests to the intense interest in marketing’s role going forward.
We expect to see more active and tangible roles for marketers – beyond the technology companies – in future iterations of MWC.
The trends we forecasted (solutions, services, content, data and connectivity) were all present some extent or another:
Mobile Kung-Fu: Powerful solutions in a small package
Speakers and exhibitors alike argued for, and even showed sometimes, solution platforms for marketers that set up bridges between individual carriers, publishing networks or operating systems. “OTT” – over-the-top or “services that sit across operators” – became a buzzword and was a favorite term used.
A loud ring in a quiet theater: Mobile services that disrupt status quo marketing – to the benefit of brands
Successful mobile services for consumers in the future will have to be both contextual (time and location) and intelligent (personalized, predictive). This may not be surprising, but to hear it emphasized was reaffirming.
Some services showed either commitment (Groupon, Metro Group, NTT Docomo) or positive consumer response (AT&T’s alerts).
Too much of a good thing? Learning to swim and not drown in the flood of mobile data
Data underpins intelligent context services.
And while speakers and attendees agreed that it largely depends on the value in exchange for personal information (i.e. location), the topic of privacy for data in personalized CRM solutions was not much discussed.
We, as the mobile marketing industry, have not found the golden key to this kingdom yet.
Brave old world: Content, coming soon to a device very near you
Content itself was not at the heart of the debate of the MWC.
While we learned some best-practice tips from the Olympic Games in London as well as high ranking representatives from publishing houses, the conference focused more on distribution solutions, than the content itself. This is where we think marketers will have an impact in the future.
The unconnected life is not worth living: Connection is breaking free from communication
Connectivity was the big news, whether in cities, homes or cars. It dominated many exhibits and conference sessions just as it will pervade our cities, homes and cars.
The commitment from Ford and General Motors to launch fully connected cars, including open software platforms for developers, is an appealing frontier for digital marketers.
We saw developments beyond these trends and the highlight was the burgeoning consumer adoption of services in a relevant cultural context in developing countries.
Claro presented culturally adopted ideas that address very specific solutions for Kenyan citizens who travel bus and taxi.
Firefox launched its first mobile operating system targeted at a generation in developing countries that is transitioning from feature phones to low-end smartphones running HTML5.
On the other hand, near field communication, or NFC, still seems technical and lacking in true use cases outside of payment pilots.
FROM A BROADER purview, we saw that many technology solutions are still just that: technology solutions.
Everybody can somehow envision a totally connected city, but we have some ways to go to create people-centric and friendly environments.
As one speaker put it, “The industry has to go from network-centric to customer-centric.”
Marketers can take a leading role in addressing this challenge with truly relevant and consumer-centric services and benefits. But, please, make it simple.
Martin Lange is executive marketing director of digital strategy at Ogilvy & Mather, New York. Reach him at .
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