MWC 2016: Ad Blocking, IoT, Virtual Reality Among Highlights

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This year's GSMA Mobile World Conference is over, but what awaits to be seen is how this year's trends are implemented in the industry. Attendee Pedro Forwe, director of Argentina-based programmatic advertising firm KickAds, reported back to Portada about the highlights from this year's event, and the mobile ad industry's biggest challenges in 2016.

Record Attendance

One of the most impressive aspects of this year's MWC was its size, as attendance surpassed 100,000 (from 204 countries) for the first time ever. Over 2,200 companies from industries like finance, healthcare and automobiles convened in the Fira Gran Via and Fira Montjuic event venues in what GSMA Ltd CEO was John Hoffman said "incorporated a diverse range of events, spanning multiple sectors and interests, reflecting the expanding role of mobile around the world."

Pedro Forwe, director, KickAds

Pedro Forwe, director, KickAds

Exhibitors were mobile operators, software companies, equipment providers and internet companies, and the event featured keynote events delivered by big players like AT&T, BuzzFeed, Cisco, Ericsson, ESL, Facebook, Ford Motor Company, GE Digital and Getty Images.

But to Forwe, "the biggest highlights were clearly the new Samsung Galaxy model, the S7, and LG's LG 5, which stole everyone's attention at the event." These two new smartphones are the most talked-about Android models of the year, with the former offering liquid cooling, wireless charging and water resistance and the latter offering a removable battery, an impressive modular accessories system and a Type-C USB port.

Ad Blocking on the Tip of Everyone's Tongue

One of the hottest topics at the event was how to deliver content that gets past ad-blockers. "There were a few very interesting discussions about the topic, and about the most efficient way to put together advertising campaigns that are non-invasive and friendlier to the user," says Forwe.
But it appears that there was no clear conclusion to this debate, as ad blockers and ad sellers continue to clash, and industry leaders are unable to agree on the best solution. It may not be as urgent as some thing, though, as mobile ad blocking penetration will still only reach 0.3% by this year, according to James Hilton, global CEO and founder at M&C Saatchi Mobile. The key will be changing advertising approaches so that users don't feel the need to download ad blockers. Whether that's possible is yet to be seen.

Virtual Reality Everywhere

When Mark Zuckerberg says something's going to be big, you know people will start paying attention to it. And that's exactly what happened with virtual reality, as a wave of companies dedicated to creating different kinds of mobile VR experiences has emerged in the past year or so.
But the path to profit in this industry has not been discovered yet. Fore claimed that he "observed a strong tendency with everything related to virtual reality...but the biggest problem will be monetizing it for developers."

The Internet of Things Still Happening

Although sometimes it feels like we've been waiting for the IoT to really happen, Fowre confirmed that the the Internet of Things "is still growing very strongly," and was a big standout at the MWC. The IoT section of the event proposed a world full of connected smart devices like smartphones, smartwatches and VR headsets developed by companies like Samsung, LG and Sony.
There is understandable pressure to innovate in this sector, as spending for IoT-inspired services like network deployment, operations management and data analytics is expected to hit $257 billion this year.
Fowre also noted that this year's event featured many solutions for more efficient information management in the wake of the Big Data revolution. This was to be expected, as the Internet of Things generates such a high volume of Big Data that needs to be organized and analyzed if anyone is to make use of it.

Video Advertising: The Ideal Engagement Tool

To Fowre, the biggest highlight when it came to advertising was video. Mark Zuckerberg went so far as to claim that there is more engagement with videos on Facebook than it does on its YouTube channel. "Even the booth in Hall 8.1 directed all your attention and communication to Video. The most interesting thing, in this sense, was mobile video apps, which had strong growth in 2015," Fowre said.
Fowre noted that other highlights included Latin America's growth in "monetizing inventory in the region through innovative formats - mostly Video and Native Ads."
There's so much going on in mobile that it's almost impossible to lump all of the area's activity under one industry label. What's certain is that mobile technology is now relevant to almost every aspect of our lives, and while some trends will come and go, the way we use our phones will dictate the direction of many industry sectors' attempts at innovation.

 


Gretchen Gardner @gardnergretchen

Gretchen is a communications specialist and owner of GMG Strategic Communications. She currently lives in Buenos Aires, Argentina, where she works with Argentine and international ventures on shaping their content, branding and marketing strategies to position them for success in global markets. She is also a lover of all things information and has worked consistently in journalism since college, most recently as a writer at Portada and as the deputy editor of The Bubble, the first informal, English-language news portal in Buenos Aires. She hails from Washington, D.C. and has a bachelor's degree in history and Hispanic studies from Hamilton College as well as a master's in international relations from the Argentine university Universidad Torcuato Di Tella.
Gretchen is a communications specialist and owner of GMG Strategic Communications. She currently lives in Buenos Aires, Argentina, where she works with Argentine and international ventures on shaping their content, branding and marketing strategies to position them for success in global markets. She is also a lover of all things information and has worked consistently in journalism since college, most recently as a writer at Portada and as the deputy editor of The Bubble, the first informal, English-language news portal in Buenos Aires. She hails from Washington, D.C. and has a bachelor's degree in history and Hispanic studies from Hamilton College as well as a master's in international relations from the Argentine university Universidad Torcuato Di Tella.

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