Mobile advertising takes center-stage at Mobile World Congress
February 17, 2011
BARCELONA, SPAIN – The sun was out on day three of Mobile World Congress 2011 in Barcelona – and mobile advertising was one of the main topics of conversation throughout the venue.
Paul Gelb, vice president and mobile practice lead at Razorfish, New York, attended this year. Razorfish has sent attendees in the past, but it was his first time to the show.
“This has become the major global show for mobile," Mr. Gelb said. "CES is hardware, and there are other conferences that focus on media. This has the full, global scope of mobile.”
The executive indicated that he was excited to see so attendees and exhibitors with so much passion, particularly the various startups from around the world he met. From a trend standpoint, he was impressed with RIM’s Playbook, particularly the way it’s leveraging its widget-like interface to enable multitasking. It was his first opportunity to demo a tablet with a front-facing camera, and it allowed him to see the potential uses for his clients.
Chetan Sharma, president of Chetan Sharma Consulting, felt that there were several consistent themes this year including NFC, mobile health and the alleviation of network congestion. Specific to advertising, he felt that “multi-screen advertising was a large topic, specifically how to tie up the user experience.”
“Apps and developers are in the center here again this year, and it appears that the battle has shifted from platforms to ecosystems,” Mr. Sharma said.
He was right—there was a constant line to get into and out of AppWorld and the traffic around Google’s booth was staggering. Developers were out en masse at MWC. At their own booths, walking the show floor and seeking out ad nets to discuss additional monetization strategies.
Where are the advertisers? They too were in Barcelona this year.
“It was exciting to see the number of high level executives from our clients, like Citibank, etc. that are here,” Mr. Gelb said. “They are looking at mobile for its full potential, knowing that it will be the largest and most effective media in the world.”
Mack McKelvey is senior vice president of marketing at Millennial Media, Baltimore, MD. Reach her at .
When did Mobile World Congress become CES?
Day 3 at Mobile World Congress saw more announcements of feature-rich smartphones and tablets, Google discussing the future of mobile innovation, and operators calling for open systems.
There has been a lot of device launches over the last three days. Every major consumer electronics manufacturer seemed to launch at least one tablet and several smartphones.
HTC, Hauwei, LG, RIM, Samsung, and Sony Ericsson all made huge announcements.
Don’t get me wrong; there are always plenty of product rollouts at Mobile World Congress. But this year seemed to set a high bar.
What is interesting is that we’re beginning to see devices that are primarily designed for a specific purpose.
Sony Ericsson launched its Xperia Play gaming phone, while HTC rolled out two “Facebook” smartphones that enable one-touch content upload and sharing via the social networking site.
As more manufacturers and operators target their device offerings for certain types of consumer usage, a wealth of opportunities should present themselves to app developers (think: the travel phone; the mobile banking phone; or the sports fan phone, although ESPN already tried that).
It’s an Android world
It wouldn’t be Mobile World Congress without Google CEO Eric Schmidt discussing his company’s role in the growth of the mobile ecosystem. During his keynote, he pointed to the emergence of LTE networks and cloud-based services as drivers for mobile innovation.
Of course, with 300,000-plus Android-phone activations per day on 170 Android-based handsets from 27 device vendors, he stated that his Android OS is ideally positioned to enable these drivers, referring to it as the “world’s fastest-growing mobile platform.”
Of course, he demo’d the upcoming “Honeycomb” version 3.0 of the OS.
For those keeping score at home, the number of apps in the Android store has tripled in the last nine months, up to 150,000. Expect an announcement next week from Apple to trump these figures.
Open systems just around the corner
AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson keynoted today, and he spoke on consumers wanting access to content across different devices, operating systems, and networks, stating that the customer experience will be OS and device agnostic, even network agnostic.
He discussed HTML5 as a touch point in enabling this cross-device, cross-OS interoperability.
Several other leading operators, including China Mobile and Telefónica, echoed Stephenson’s sentiment in their public comments.
Lest you think this vision is decades away, mobile operators Deutsche Telekom, Orange, Telecom Italia, Telefónica and Vodafone announced the launch of commercial Rich Communication Suite (RCS) services across several European markets later this year to enable mobile customers to use instant messaging (IM), live video sharing and file transfer across any device on any network operator.
What effect will open systems have on the mobile marketing space and app developers in particular? That remains to be seen, but the issue cannot be ignored.
Valerie Christopherson is founder and managing director at Global Results Pr. Reach her at .
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