The three hot topics of discussion at this year’s Mobile World Congress was 5G connectivity, transparency and of course…snow.
Let’s start with the last one — we’re talking about Barcelona, Spain where it was cold, wet, and it even snowed!
Despite the unusually cold weather, the promise of 5G was one of the most talked about trends at the trade show. 5G is the new generation of mobile technology, promising gigabit per second speeds, all without wires. While 5G deployments are still rare, that didn’t stop vendors from showcasing their vision of the future.
And 5G promised to redefine mobile in very dramatic ways. Despite the usual mobile phone launch fanfare, 5G developments and the Internet of things (IoT) technologies promised to open a new ecosystem of interconnected devices ranging from connected homes, cars, AR/VR devices, and even connected cities. In this new world, mobile phones are no longer at the center of consumers lives — it became just another device with a vast array of digital access points.
Of course, there was adtech too. At times, it seemed like the glory days of adtech were in the past. But then again, we saw glimpses of a thriving ecosystem that refuses to give up to the dominance of the walled gardens.
The walled gardens certainly made a mark in the show, but it was the telco sector that provided the highlights for ad tech, in my opinion. Ericsson launched Emodo, a mobile advertising platform for telcos powered by its own people-graph. Tapad also launched its version of a Customer Data Platform (CDP), promising operators the ability to deliver marketing and loyalty programs to leverage their very valuable subscriber data.
Another hot trend for ad tech was location data. As expected, we saw A LOT of vendors offering their own versions of location data: IP-based location services, location-based audiences, location attribution, location-verification services, “tower-powered” location data, you name it. But after spending time with many vendors, one thing became really clear: there wasn’t a lack of vendors, but very few offered full transparency in the way they source their data, and how they model and scale audiences.
And of course, there was the theme of trust and transparency. Not surprisingly, being in Europe, the buzz word was GDPR. As May 25th approaches, some claimed 100% compliance, and others weren’t so sure. But what all participants agreed with was that GDPR is a welcomed development for the industry.
Mobile World Congress never disappoints. This year there was new tech coupled with lots of hype. But there’s hope that we are finally moving towards a more transparent and balanced ad industry, where brands and consumers needs are equally at the forefront.