A view from David Black

Global viewpoint from Barcelona: Google's Black on MWC

The last bleary-eyed attendee has probably just about got their blood sangria levels back to normal, and Mobile World Congress is now a memory of...

The conference brings together some of the world’s foremost technology and telecoms companies in Barcelona to discuss the ideas, innovations and gadgets that are shaping the mobile revolution – the Internet of Things, virtual reality, 5G.

But while the shiny gadgets are exciting, for marketers the biggest mobile opportunities are already at their fingertips. The big takeaway for marketers at MWC is that mobile is now both a performance and a branding power tool. It fuels entertainment and influences shopping behaviour.  To win big in digital, brands need to start thinking and valuing small screens today.

People today do absolutely everything on mobile – the smartphone has truly become the remote control for our lives. In the space of a few taps, we can dial up a taxi, order food, make an impulse purchase for next-day delivery or view a "how to" video instructing us how to make a perfect paella. That means there are more opportunities than ever for brands to reach consumers at the moments that matter. 

It is predicted that mobile shopping will see meteoric growth in the coming years, 300 per cent faster than that of e-commerce – but not all those who start their purchasing journey on mobile complete it on the same device. The IoT promises more smart products and cross-device behaviour will only accelerate, so marketers need to be able to accurately attribute the correct impact of their mobile brand and performance spend. If you work on last-click attribution, the chances are that you are undervaluing mobile and are missing out on upper-funnel opportunities.

Then take the growth of online video, particularly on mobile. In the UK last year, we saw a 200 per cent increase in the time consumers spent watching YouTube on mobile. And don’t assume small screens are only for short content – the average YouTube mobile viewing session is now more than 40 minutes. That is an increase of more than 50 per cent year on year. Brands should create experiences that people choose to engage with – focus on engagement, not fret about screen size. 

As the tech developments emerging from MWC last week show, the devices in our pockets are changing rapidly – with consumer behaviour driving the search for simple, fast, personal experiences. Brands and marketers need to make sure they are reaching the right consumers with the right messages at the right time – and mobile is critical for that.

David Black is the managing director, branding & consumer at Google UK