Mobile World Congress 2018, the year’s largest mobile exhibition, saw a distinct lack of the usual flagship phone launches and without the usual distractions of handset razzmatazz, key trends for an evolving mobile era came to the fore in Barcelona.
1) Cellular IoT is the new poster child of connectivity
The GSMA trade body predicts that that the number of IoT connections will grow threefold by 2025 to 25 billion. Driving this growth will be low power mobile connections, using LTE-M and NB-IoT technologies.
At MWC 2018, customer-facing mobile IoT applications included smart retail solutions, such as screens that allow shoppers to select a discount on a particular product before entering the store and then redeem that discount at the till, thereby enticing people into store to complete the retail journey.
Operators such as Telefonica are driving the digitisation of physical retail stores.
Dynamic signage, in-store tracking and digital tagging, allows brands to improve the in-store customer experience, personalise content, strengthen the impact of messaging and improve brand image.
2) 5G advertiser use must go beyond device hype
Predictably, the exhibition halls of MWC were awash with exhibitors promoting devices that boasted ‘super-fast 5G’ ‘seamless 5G’, and even ‘next generation 5G’, despite the first commercial 5G network not expected to launch until later this year. The potential of 5G however is not in the devices but in its application.
In Barcelona, Ericsson launched a report detailing nine use-cases for 5G. The use-case with the biggest revenue potential is real-time automation, forecast to generate $96bn by 2026, ahead of Enhanced video services (4K, 8K, 3D and 360-degree video for sports broadcasting).
Due to 5G’s much lower latency, people are less likely to experience dropped calls or lag in densely populated cities and events. This could see other potential marketing use-cases include AR and VR applications for gaming and immersive TV, connected or autonomous vehicles, intelligent out-of-home advertising and connected city infrastructures.
3) Advertiser concerns remain at the heart of mobile advancements
In a hyper-connected world, brands need to build people’s trust in technologies such as 5G-ready data storage, AI, customer identity solutions and mobile payments.
MWC 2018 played a key role in providing answers for more meaningful technology engagement. In return, we must stay true to the values of transparency, honesty and brand safety when incorporating these mobile solutions into advertising and marketing work.
User authentication, particular via biometrics, is increasingly being integrated into much of the hardware on show in Barcelona. Digital identity solutions, such as Mobile Connect, which replaces the need for multiple usernames and passwords by using a person’s mobile number, is impressive in its range of potential uses.
Hardware providers such as Lenovo are leading the way by focusing on improving people’s tech/life balance, by launching the full-range of products to improve our health, our day-to-day purchasing decisions, how we manage our finances, and how we interact with brand content in a safe and secure way.
For me there is no doubt that these continued advances in mobile technology will help us to create more meaningful brand solutions and trusted user experiences everywhere and the more they shape the media and advertising landscape – the better. And for that reason alone, I will be back at the MWC again next year.
Marc Schader is group CEO – Global Growth at Havas Group Media.