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Five trends to monitor at Mobile World Congress 2013

By Martin Lange

BARCELONA, Spain ? With 70,000 attendees, 1,500 exhibitors and over 100 conference sessions, Mobile World Congress can be an overwhelming experience. On this week, the conference ranges across all aspects of the mobile economy, from hardware and infrastructure to marketing and education.

Here are five trends to watch for at #MWC13 in Barcelona, Spain:

Mobile Kung-Fu: Powerful solutions in a small package
Advertising via mobile devices still has a long way to go before we achieve the kind of spend/get ratios we crave.

However, we do see many solutions entering the market that will make ad buying, location-based promotions, messaging services and many other marketing efforts much more manageable and trackable for advertisers.

Global advertisers will soon find the means to run campaigns, via text or call services, in multiple countries and through multiple operators.

Fortunately, negotiating individual operator deals one country at a time is a pain of the past. Massively increased scale and speed to market will soon follow, and services such as Jana or Soli United are the bellwethers for this trend.

A loud ring in a quiet theater: Mobile services that disrupt status quo marketing, to the benefit of brands
Consumers and customers are flocking to new mobile propositions that herald a new service or transform products or distribution ? or both. And this is happening in staid business-to-business value chains and fluid business-to-consumer markets alike.

Startups have done the hard work of paving the way for new, disruptive services that make use of the inherent advantages found in the mobile world: location sensing, cameras and instant access to social networks.

Clever use of these mobile advantages allows businesses to threaten traditional value chains and business models.

Just think how Uber and myTaxi have shaken up the taxi industry, how Instagram has upended the camera market, how Amazon?s mobile service has challenged the physical retail business or how Twitter has taken over current newscasting.

By developing services, brands can shift their marketing efforts from pure outward-bound advertising to immersive experiences. As a happy side effect, this creates the potential for incremental revenue along the way.

At MWC, we will learn about the latest ideas and innovations that inspire us to think beyond the message to the experience and user engagement.

Too much of a good thing? Learning to swim and not drown in the flood of mobile data
Recent studies have shown that data is the No. 1 topic that keeps chief marketing officers up at night.

With more smart devices in the hands of the consumer, more data points are collected every day.

We can now add location, shopping behavior, contacts and who knows what else to an already overwhelming set of variables.

How can marketers make sense of all the available data points, much less take advantage of them? We will need to if we want to create smarter and more relevant messages and offers, better products and customer service, sharper modeling, and more focused investments.

This trend is light on conference sessions, but many data solution providers are present on the exhibition floor ? everyone from large players such as IBM to small startups with innovative solutions.

Brave old world: Content, coming soon to a device very near you
Content ? as study after study has shown ? is a high priority for marketers going into 2013. 

Mobile platforms have liberated content from being consumed only at home. It has given birth to new formats such as Vine and Angry Birds and extensions of platforms including HBO GO. Through mobile, we can access any information or entertainment content anywhere.

Brands and media companies alike need to understand how content is consumed in the mobile world, what makes it succeed and what is required to produce it.

We are in a rush to embrace mobile content to increase our relevance with consumers, either by creating custom content or by adding context or service to existing work.

Expect to find content creators, publishers and distribution infrastructure providers on the exhibition floor, and discussion of case studies in the conference.

The unconnected life is not worth living: Connection is breaking free from communication
In the near future, the experts tell us, the ?Internet of Things? will surround us seamlessly. That odd phrase stands for the tighter connections among physical products and the vast information infrastructure we call the Internet.

Ericsson predicts that 50 billion devices will be connected by 2020. This development offers a great opportunity for companies to create new intelligent products and talk to consumers in new ways, building out content and services across these newly connected devices.

We will have more data to collect and more intelligence to act upon, but brands will be challenged to provide a consistent experience everywhere they meet their consumers.
At MWC, we will see a lot of visions for the near and not-so-near future of connected devices.

Martin Lange is executive marketing director of digital strategy at Ogilvy & Mather, New York. Reach him at .