Mobile World Congress: Speakers from Telefónica, Mastercard and more share their previews

it's a mobile world

The world is truly mobile, yet marketers are still struggling to fully understand the opportunities out there. Ahead of Mobile World Congress 2017, The Drum caught up with some of this year’s speakers to find out where they think mobile is taking us, and to get a sneak preview of what they’ll be discussing at the conference.

Dan Rosen, global director of advertising, Telefónica

At Mobile World Congress 2017 I will be talking about the role telecoms companies can play in bringing greater relevance and context to digital advertising.

Data is the telecoms industry’s most precious commodity. Telcos are in a unique position to harness insights from rich, first party authenticated data which has earned us a place alongside the biggest advertising players in the ecosystem.

We believe the way we derive that context and insights – by providing consumers with their mobile service – puts the sector in the best place in the advertising ecosystem to provide qualified and reliable insights at scale.

The data customers entrust to telecoms companies comes with complete and implicit trust, and we have a collective duty – as advertisers and operators – to use it accurately, respectfully and compliantly to deliver the very best digital experiences. This is valuable to brands and advertisers but also to customers, who want to receive information that is pertinent to their lives, at the right time and place.

Connectivity is the new need for consumers. Despite continual advances in technology and software, many people limit their enjoyment of the internet to when they have Wi-Fi to avoid using their data plan – so they often miss out while on the go, and so do brands that want to reach them.

I will be talking about the ways in which telcos can overcome this problem and expand the market beyond Wi-Fi with sponsored data, including a new advertising model where the brand picks up the tab for the data needed by customers to enjoy their brand experience. I think anybody would agree that it’s not fair that consumers have to pay out of their data plan to consume advertising.

Rosen will be speaking at the session ‘Consumer Advertising and the MNO’ on Thursday 2 March.

Raja Rajamannar, chief marketing and communications officer, Mastercard

We are building our campaigns on the premise that in this era, experiences matter much more than our possessions. This isn’t a fad: it’s a deep, human truth, which first struck a chord with consumers two decades ago, and which has become even more culturally relevant today. But experiences are not only trending with consumers, they’re becoming increasingly important to brands, because it’s getting harder to reach your target audience.

Today’s connected consumer moves quickly between channels with a shorter attention span, and isn’t willing to waste even a few seconds on irrelevant content. Consider the millions of people actively using adblockers today or the ad-free subscription services from on-demand content providers – brands still want to tell their stories to consumers, but as this trend clearly indicates, people are no longer willing to be interrupted by them. To reach today’s consumer, you need to earn their attention by creating experiences that are truly engaging.

When we considered all of this cultural change, and the increasing importance of experiences, we realised that the Priceless platform is an idea that cannot and should not be contained in traditional advertising.

We need to go way beyond showing experiences in commercials – we need to give our cardholders the tools to create their own.

Rajamannar will be speaking at the Modern Marketing Summit on Monday 27 February.

João Barros, founder and chief executive, Veniam

Autonomous vehicles are coming much faster than anyone imagined. Moreover, they are incredibly data hungry, consuming up to 4,000GB a day. One thing is clear: the current mobile internet infrastructure is not ready for this new and impending data tsunami.

How can we solve this? Veniam’s experience in deploying and operating mesh networks of connected vehicles in Porto, Singapore and New York has given us insights into how the future full of autonomous vehicles will evolve. It needs an intelligent combination of multi-network architectures, smart (and local) data management, and most importantly, low-latency fail-safe vehicle-to-cloud platforms that can provide scalable and superior quality of experience for mobility-as-a-service providers and their no-longer-driving customers.

In my keynote, I will show that mesh-connected vehicles can be a lot more than machines that carry people and goods from one place to the other. In fact, they can expand wireless coverage and gather massive amounts of urban data for a myriad of smart city applications.

Barros will be speaking at the ‘Startup Innovation’ keynote on Thursday 2 March.

Michael Weaver, vice-president product strategy, MediaMath

I’ll be taking part in a fireside chat with Ilicco Elia, DigitasLBi International’s head of mobile, on location-based targeting. One of the things you often find at conferences like Mobile World Congress is that you try to get people defining location, and you’ll hear different things from different people.

At MediaMath we have three definitions: where someone is right now; where someone has been; and then there’s the attribution part – basically ‘did my location strategy actually achieve campaign goals?’

For all these different types of definitions, the real question for advertisers is: which of these is most important to you and why? For someone at an ad agency they have to look at the specifics of a campaign and an advertiser goal and then work all of that out.

For advertisers, MWC offers them the opportunity to go around the halls and look at something like a connected bike, and then figure out if it makes any difference to them. For adtech companies, it’s about showing them how you can offer them the tools and empirical evidence to help them make that decision, as well as figure out if those decisions were a success. Basically, these days you have everyone on a thousand different devices (through telecoms developments such as 5G, etc) and advertisers need to figure out which one they need to be on, with agencies figuring out the best way to communicate on those devices, while adtech helps put the messaging there.

Weaver will be speaking at the Modern Marketing Summit on Monday 27 February.

Paul Hainsworth, chief executive, Open Garden

In heavily populated countries like Indonesia, India, Mexico and Brazil, residential broadband is the exception rather than the norm and over two-thirds of all mobile data connections are pre-paid.

Mobile connectivity is often sold in small packages, with people buying as little as a few dollars of mobile data every few days. This means that a vast majority of the new billions of smartphone users are only incidental consumers of data, and save it for critical functions like messaging. They will never or rarely consume news, watch video, shop, discover new apps or download new games on their mobile devices.

Our research shows that app developers in markets such as India and Philippines find that as much as 30-40% of their users are disconnected from the internet at any given time, typically because they don’t have a data plan, or because networks are congested or spotty.

Open Garden has pioneered a disruptive, software-only technology that helps close this connectivity gap. Its platform, called MeshKit, enables a developer’s app to communicate phone to phone to exchange data between devices. App developers and digital businesses everywhere can now acquire and engage with new users, drive transactions and monetise audiences even at times when their devices are not online.

Sometimes just the smallest bits of data are game-changing if they can reach the internet; payments services and other ride hailing services can see a big lift in transaction volume by moving small payloads peer-to-peer.

Mobile peer-to-peer mesh connectivity is not just an emerging market solution. Mobile operators in developed markets increasingly see mesh as a part of the fabric of 5G, and a solution for offloading network traffic, especially in congested areas. The future of mobile connectivity will certainly include mesh networking. Players like Open Garden and others are just getting started.

Hainsworth will be speaking at the Startup Innovation keynote on Thursday 2 March.

This article was originally published in The Drum magazine.

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