Every year Mobile World Congress brings with it the usual buzz of anticipation for the showcase of disruptive (and sometimes downright disturbing) new technology.
We are already making forecasts for the big winners this year and planning how we can help our clients navigate the increasingly convoluted digital landscape.
However, while it is important to look ahead and stay on top of emerging technology trends, we mustn’t lose sight of the challenges that our clients are facing today.
Here are the top three:
Viewability has been a pressing topic for some time, with brands rightly wanting to know that their ads are delivered to eyeballs.
As eyeballs are increasingly turning to mobile screens over any other, it is more important than ever for brands to ensure that their mobile advertising is being seen.
Smart brands and publishers are now transitioning to a model where they are charged only for ads that have been measured as viewable.
Marketers are also seeking more accurate in-store measurement.
Location accuracy is one area where there has been rapid advancement in recent years with the emergence of footfall and insight reports, as well as sales uplift studies showing broad audience trends.
With these advancements, brands are now looking to get a better analysis of the actions of individual users.
Hyper-local beacon technology will help to make this a reality, although widespread use of the devices is still some way off.
With consumers using more devices, and digital ecosystems becoming more siloed, it is becoming more difficult to keep track of a single user.
Many brands believe they have ticked the "cross device" box simply by placing ads across multiple screens, but not enough are making the most of cross-device attribution.
Brands should be tapping into this data to understand their consumers’ path to purchase and action it to inform audience insight and campaign planning.
The industry is also turning attention towards offline attribution, as consumers switch seamlessly between online and offline touchpoints before making a final purchase. Over the coming years, the wider uptake of mobile payment solutions is likely to help bridge this gap to provide information about what individual consumers are buying in-store.
Creative that counts
Ad-blocking stormed the media headlines in 2016 and brought it to the top of many marketers’ agendas.
Although the practice is not as widespread in mobile as in desktop, it is still an important consumer trend to take into consideration.
Recently, publishers and creative agencies have introduced fewer new formats, which marks an important shift from creating inventive (but gimmicky) ads, to ads that deliver a good experience for the user.
Over time we are likely to move towards more pull- rather than push-based creative.
MWC is set to host numerous companies developing experiences in "new realities" (virtual, augmented and mixed), as well as voice-based activation, indicating the new ways that consumers will begin to interact with the world around them.
Emerging technologies will ultimately better help us to address many of these challenges.
However, they are not yet ubiquitous. For many brands it is a case of learning to walk before they can run. We must approach these issues with the solutions we currently have at our disposal to take the learning and allow strategies to develop alongside technological advances.
It is vital that we help our clients to get the basics right. Innovation is crucial to remain relevant in this rapidly evolving landscape and is to be encouraged.
For the bulk of campaign planning, however, using smart strategies to reach the right user at the right time will have the most effective impact.
Scott Curtis is European mobile strategy and development director at Publicis Media