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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.


Ad_BlockingAlmost $22 billion in global ad revenues have been blocked so far this year, representing about 14% of all global ad budgets, according to a study by Anti Ad-blocking firm PageFair. Outstream Video Advertising Firm Teads, recently published a manifesto for sustainable advertising attempting to unite the advertising and marketing industries to engage (not enrage) consumers. What is the state of Ad-Blocking in Latin America and what is being done against it?

1. How extended is Ad-Blocking in Latin America?

LatAmA recent report found that about 16% of users in the U.S. block ads. Globally, there are nearly 200 million people stopping ads, 181 million of whom are on the desktop.  These are obviously facts to worry about . But  how extended is ad-blocking in Latin America? According to Eric Tourtel, ‎Senior Vice President, Latin America at Teads.tv, “Although research on ad blockers is still limited we do know that 4 countries in Latin America fall into the top 30 countries in the world with ad blockers for video. Colombia is at #20 with 28% of video time ad blocked. Chile and Mexico come in right before the U.S. with 26% ad blocked video time and Argentina and Ecuador both count with 23%. These numbers are alarming because they pertain to desktop alone, now factoring the mobile ad blockers on iOS and Android, the number could easily double. With a high adoption of ad blockers, advertisers and publishers are both at risk. The time is now to raise mass awareness and come together to seek better alternatives that sustain brands, publishers and users alike, before ad blockers become the standard.”

Four countries in Latin America fall into the top 30 countries in the world with ad blockers for video: Colombia, Chile, Mexico and Argentina.

2. Is Ad-Blocking higher on mobile than on desktop?

Yes, ad block adoption in general is definitely higher on desktop right now. The above referred study by anti-ad blocking firm PageFair in partnership with Adobe found that “mobile ad blocking is still very underdeveloped,” a situation that may change following Apple’s recent support for ad blockers in iOS 9.”When you think of Ad blocking your first thought is desktop. Latin America is mobile-centric, the communication dynamic between a brand and consumer vastly differs compared to the United States or any other market, making it difficult to draw a parallel between each of them,” says Mike Villalobos, Head of U.S. Multicultural and Latin American Sales at Virool.

When you think of Ad blocking your first thought is desktop. Latin America is mobile-centric.

3. How will Latin America’s rapid adoption of smartphones impact ad-blocking in the region?

Photo: Esther Vargas. CC Licence.
Photo: Esther Vargas. CC Licence.

The rapid adoption of smartphones in LatAm may have increase the use of ad-blocking technologies in the region.  As Teads’ Tourtel notes “following Apple’s recent announcement allowing ad blockers on Safari, a slew of ad blocking apps are expected to make their debuts in the market which will likely boost ad blocker adoption on mobile as a whole. Latin America specifically is one of the fastest growing regions for smartphone adoption. eMarketer predicts the region will have around 220 million smartphone users in the region within the next 3 years up from the current 150 million users this year. As mobile becomes the primary screen for internet usage, we may see a shift in ad block adoption from primarily desktop to more mobile.”
Key drivers for users to block ads include the quantity and quality of ads and, in mobile, the extra load time, and the resulting hits on battery life and bandwidth charges.

4. Are Latin Americans aware about the role of advertising revenues in supporting media?

advertising.megafono-285x346One key issue that audiences who use ad-blockers need to know is that if the content is not subsidized by advertising it will have to be bought by the end-consumer, in other words the audiences themselves, in order to make it economically viable. However, many consumers underestimate the role of advertising in supporting media. A Teads study mentions that 68% of consumers underestimate the role of advertising in supporting media properties. Is this figure also valid for Latin America? According to Eric Tourtel, “this number can be applied generally for any region. At Teads we are pushing globally for the education of consumers about the value of advertising because many don’t realize that advertising funds the online content and services they love and use daily. Considering 4 Latin American countries are amongst the top ad blockers users in the world, this number could potentially increase.”
Latin America, with its huge lower and lower-middle classes, has traditionally been a region with a very large amount of the media landscape being supported by advertising revenues. Open TV networks have an ad market share that is higher than 50% in many Latin American countries.

5. What type of advertising can be blocked which one cannot be blocked?.

“The ads that can and can’t be blocked depend on the ad blocker application itself but these third-party software companies have the capabilities to allow users to block all kinds of ads from banners to video ads. One of the key factors in ad block adoption is the use of intrusive advertising like pop-ups, overlays and pre-roll video,” says Eric Tourtel
from Teads. “The latest software is even blocking paid social and paid search ads!.”


6. When buying video programmatically is there a way to take out the audience that blocks the ads?

Man finger pushing interface use of innovative technologiesAccording to Tourtel, “When buying ads, there is no way to know which user has ad blockers set up or not. This is a big risk for advertisers as they are paying more for impressions without guaranteed views. Some publishers such as The Washington Post are asking users to subscribe to content in an effort to combat lost revenues from ad blockers. Others like The New York Times do not allow users to view content if they have ad blockers enabled. There are anti-ad blocking companies that try to come up with new software to reverse the ad block.”

The New York Times does not allow users to view content if they have ad blockers enabled.

7. What technologies are there to distribute advertising more effectively?

Seamless ads that are designed to enhance online media are the industry’s best defense against the proliferation of ad blockers. According to Virool’s Villalobos, “advertisers can overcome ad-blockers if the content is authentically created, has relevant messaging and efficiently distributed through appropriate mediums.”Tead’s Tourtel agrees “as an industry, we need to adopt less intrusive ad formats such as outstream formats like Teads’ inRead, to slow the use of ad blockers. Native advertising of this kind is less intrusive and more accepted by the user.”
A technology that allows a more seamless and non-intrusive integration of ads into the user experience are outstream video ads,
a category generally described as ads that run within text dominant Web pages or streamed within copy on mobile phones. Ad-Tech firms Teads and Virool have outstream video ads, and Yume recently unveiled outstream ads  as well.

Says Mike Villalobos, “Virool alleviates ad blocking concerns by strategically distributing content, in a manner that is organic to the audience on the receiving end. The best example is Virool’s Inline/ unit that is compatible on both mobile and desktop. Virool also run sub-campaigns before, during, or after distribution to quantify authentic emotional engagement through facial a viewers facial reaction, the tool is called eIQ. With these innovative tools we provide are able to facilitate a solution, and an experience that will improve the overall creative and campaign delivery.”

CHECK OUT: Online Video in Latin America: What 6 Experts Have to Say
Will Online Video Take Money Out of the Huge LatAm TV budgets?

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