Where was mobile marketing at Mobile World Congress?

You can cough Jonathan McDonald, because, at first glance, there wasn’t much news announced on mobile marketing this year at Mobile World Congress. That’s not to say there wasn’t any activity, it was just very similar to previous years.

For example:

There was the same App Planet space with the same booths (Velti, BuzzCity, .mobi, adfonic, Smaato, adsmobi, Amobee,) except that, this year, even Nokia and Blackberry managed to have a presence!

We had the same speakers as usual doing the conference circuit: Tom Daly from Coca-Cola, Jason Spero from Google or Andrew Graham from Adidas.

And the same big challenges remain before mobile can start to lead in the advertising space.

So, the layout was pretty much the same, what about content wise at the conferences? There were some interesting points made, such as the issues between agencies and clients. Agencies are dragging in the mobile space as clients are not demanding mobile advertising so agencies don’t force the issue (and it’s also a matter of economics). Andrew Graham from Adidas had some advice – to focus on the fundamentals with good mobile web sites, and develop apps for specific uses only. Other speakers emphasized the need for engagement over impression. Privacy was another much touted word, with everyone calling for more control.

As ever, mobile has to be integrated into the marketing mix and cannot be a standalone value. It’s vital to have targeting and value so as not to annoy the customer and, ultimately, you need measurement of mobile marketing effectiveness.

Finally, however, was the main buzzword from Jason Spero of Google: “There are four challenges to overcome – education education education education.”(This has been echoed by all other participants.)

And this is what I wish to focus on and where I think we can truly make a difference. I’m hugely optimistic about the future of mobile marketing this time at Mobile World Congress. As I emerged from Hall 8 I crossed paths with the executive staff from McCann, here at the show to learn all about mobile. Education is starting to really make a difference, as Mark Newman of @telecoms reported this week too: “Mobile advertising may be having a tough time justifying itself as a standalone business model but mobile marketing has unquestionably emerged as a powerful weapon in the armory of consumer brands.” Referencing Kraft’s initiative with Nokia as well as its licensing deal with Red Bull (where previously it partnered with operators) and demonstrating how QR codes have helped Taco Bell better engage with its customers, there’s plenty to be optimistic about.

I hope that Ghassan Hasbani CEO of STC is not right when he claims that mobile ads will only take off when mobile payments are on our devices. With education we can go far, and, while the two are not mutually exclusive, neither should one depend on the other.

So, that’s the lesson we can take from this year’s Mobile World Congress – with education, mobile marketing will succeed in no time.

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