Mobile World Congress brings new ideas, products to mobile marketing

As mobile marketing experts convened in Barcelona for Mobile World Congress 2014, some talked about the future of the industry, while others revealed how they plan to get there.

Mollie Spilman, Millennial Media's chief marketing officer, discussed advertising on native mobile apps, a practice she said some advertisers were not yet embracing because of a general unfamiliarity about them among companies.

Many advertisers appreciate not only the initial impressiveness of television ads, but also the defined metrics that validate them, Spilman noted in an interview with Marketing Week. With that in mind, players in the mobile industry are working to make their products more measurable.

"Mobile is harder than other sectors because there are different operating systems to deal with, different handsets, app stores, data plans and so on. But it is improving as trade bodies, marketers, agencies and companies like us are coordinating to better measure the effect of mobile," Spilman said.

Taking a step in the tangible data direction is Urban Airship, the mobile push messaging specialist. The company revealed a new product at MWC that utilizes iBeacon, Apple's indoor positioning system, to create "richer mobile audience segments for better targeting and deeper personalization over time," according to a report by The Next Web.

"For example, a shopper might walk into a children's clothing department triggering an iBeacon message with seasonal specials, and also become part of a children's clothing audience segment for a back-to-school campaign later that year," according to the company's statement quoted by The Next Web.

Mindshare's chief digital officer Norm Johnston talked to BeetTV about current trends in mobile app use and how the industry has matured past the "vortex of confusion" it faced during its nascent stage. Even as companies start to invest more, they are faced with difficult issues, the most immediate being whether to utilize native apps, as Spilman recommends, or whether they should stick to the mobile web browsing experience.

Johnston said research shows 80 percent of mobile consumers in the U.S. find products through apps rather than mobile browsing. However, studies suggest that mobile users on average have 41 apps and use 8 of them daily, which limits options for a company to inject itself into the market.

"What role can [brands] play with apps or within apps?" Johnston asked. "And I think the answer is more often in the latter: try to look for opportunities to embed themselves in existing apps. Simple things like Facebook or Google."

Johnston said mobile platforms could be the "connective tissue" between all other platforms, which could lead to TV-mobile connections and other hybrids. Spilman and her company predicted that impressions on wearable devices will increase by 947 percent next year, while household appliance impressions will increase by 469 percent.

Hardware makers are certainly heeding the call for more possibilities within mobile devices. Mark Holden of The Drum took a look at some of the new technology featured at MWC, including the obvious--bigger and brighter screens, HD imaging--and the not so obvious.

"LG's U+ Share service enables live video streaming to groups of friends--WhatsApp meets live video capture," Holden said. "On the hardware front, the Asus Fonepad Mini, which quite literally brings together smartphone and tablet into a two-in-one device, also points towards solutions which make mobile rich media viable."

As the mobile marketing industry moves forward, one of the main focuses will be targeting and analytics. Companies have long tried to solve the problem of tracking users across multiple screens in order to correlate the user with the company's own "spend" in order to determine value, Johnston said. Different companies will face the issue in different ways, he added.

"The targeting capability, whether that's by ID, which obviously Google, Facebook, Microsoft and Yahoo are all looking at ways to create single ID targeting, or again the usage of proxy information or some of the tools that we have, for example, within [Mindshare's] Xaxis for multiscreen targeting--it's getting much more sophisticated," Johnston said. "It's not perfect, we're not totally there yet, but it's definitely been a major improvement."

For more:
- read The Next Web's article about Urban Airship
- read Marketing Week's interview with Mollie Spilman
- check out The Drum's take on the hardware introduced at MWC14
- watch BeetTV's interview with Norm Johnston

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