Apps: passed the one million milestone within four years
Apps: passed the one million milestone within four years
A view from Nigel Clarkson

Weve's Nigel Clarkson's gone to Barca, so you don't have to: Day 2

The "networking" session went on pretty solidly into the night after day one of the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, but Weve's commercial leader, Nigel Clarkson, has shaken it off to report back on day two.

It is great to see some familiar faces from the UK, mixing with a truly global mobile family all discussing the events of the day.

So what do you really need the day after the night before?  A day of "data" probably isn't your normal hangover cure, but hey, when in Barcelona and all that.

The day started with a look at the modern "Connected Consumer". We are, and will continue to be, surrounded by a huge variety of connected devices capable of anything from streamlining the commute to work to reducing energy consumption in the home.

I learnt a valuable presentation lesson many years ago, which was to question – "does it pass the 'so what' test?"

And this will come to be true of our new connected world. My Dad couldn't give a rat's arse about a mobile app that monitors his energy consumption, but some people will love it. I probably found myself saying "why" as often as "wow" at some of the developments and in time ,I guess like everything, consumers will choose what they want and discard the rest.

I also attended an interesting session from John O'Donovan the CTO at the FT. He talked of the challenges of being a publisher in the current market. My take-outs were that firstly, you absolutely need to be mobile-optimised to ensure user experience is as good as it can be and if you're not, you are already miles behind the game.

One amazing insight was when they analysed device access, they found that there was no desktop traffic on a weekend! All their views were via mobile web or the FT app. Intuitively, this is likely to be true to a greater extent of most publishers.

So again, if those patterns of impacts are consistent, it is a challenge to the UK business to make sure that the advertising revenues are chasing the eyeballs.

I also popped in to a session from a business I wasn't familiar with called Quixey – a specialist app search business. Apps have been called the next stage of the internet. A great stat was that it took 8 years to get to  one million websites. It took just under four years for apps to get to the same figure.

They're out there – you just can't find them easily if they don't make the "top 10" search lists. One million apps is truly astonishing and goes some way to explaining the huge number of impressions delivered on mobile being in-app. Again, it's a very different experience to desktop, it's mobile-only and needs to be treated as such.

There was also a very interesting seminar on mobile retail which probably fits into two categories – the obvious m-commerce channel where you buy goods via an online site or app whilst on your mobile. You'd have to have your head in the sand not to have read how important this channel is to retailers and consumers alike.

But the other side of m-commerce is the growing area of partnerships between banks, merchants and retailers to improve and streamline the real world shopping experience too.

The seminar looked at how mobile can harness together security, location and authentication to ensure that the role of the mobile device in all types of "shopping" is only going to get much bigger.

This was an interesting session for me as, aside from our SMS and mobile display media products, at Weve we've been creating momentum in the loyalty and payments area. The session backed up the progress that we are making here.

You may have seen that this month, Weve announced our payments partnership with MasterCard as well as launching our alpha loyalty product called 'Pouch', currently trialling in some London branches of Eat. Exciting times indeed in this space.

And of course, throughout the day we had a constant reminder about data challenges. Everyone has data. It's nearly always now "big". So how do clients and agencies sift through the data sets available and differentiate?

Mobile generates 10 times more data than desktop. Mobile is always on, monitoring different signals from location, activity, context, and the accelerometer. The big question should be around how and where the data is sourced and should a premium be placed on first party versus learned / third-party relationships?

I remember starting in an office in media in 1995, back when the "research" department was two or three people wearing thick glasses, sat in some dark corner churning out TGI runs, or running campaign research studies. Fast-forward to 2014 and the data teams are the new media rock stars. Find me a pitch or marketing insight now which isn't data-driven and I'll be very surprised.

But the whole space is fraught with smoke and mirrors. You can't just stick "we have market-leading data" on your website and get away with it. I've seen eight businesses today that, to all intents and purposes, do the same thing, and all package it as "market-leading data".

I can see room for real development here as clients and agencies will need to place different value on different levels of data which are clearly of different value. First-party data should be leading insight, then partnership data and then third-party data.

Currently, there is little differentiation, which I think will change as our marketplace matures.

Blindly presenting about "big data" is as cliched as the "joke" about this being "the year of the mobile". A wander around this conference witnessing the huge developments, investments and infrastructure in place is the best response to that tired conference joke, and I would like to petition that anyone using it from this day forward is immediately thrown off whatever stage they are speaking from.

All in all, another strong day in Barcelona. A day of back-to-back meetings, seminars and presentations can make a man thirsty. More to come tomorrow...

Nigel Clarkson is commercial director of Weve