Top 3 marketing takeaways from MWC

Mobile World Congress was bigger then ever this year and although mobile manufacturers are moving their PR focus away from MWC and launching their flagship devices at their own purpose-built events, there was plenty of big brand activity and emerging trends to catch the eye of the global marketers in attendance. Here’s my top five takeaways from the event.

Lara O'Reilly

Mobile companies make smarter moves on brands

Several non-traditional mobile companies such as KLM, Ford, IHG, Unilever, Coca-Cola and the BBC were invited to take the stage at this year’s MWC, highlighting a wider trend of the mobile industry looking to forge more relationships with brands to boost their revenue as handsets and phone contracts become increasingly commoditised.

Paul Berney, CMO of the Mobile Marketing Association told Marketing Week, there is a realisation among mobile brands they are “not the big boys any more” because of the increased availability of handsets and mobile access at low price points.

As a result the mobile industry is moving away from specs to talk the language of marketers as those companies look to content deals, apps, mobile marketing and sponsorships to create additional revenue streams beyond their traditional business models.

Brands should be open to having more conversations with mobile operators, handset makers and service providers over the coming months to, in the words of Unilever CMO Keith Weed, “unlock the magic” of their brands and attempt to reach the estimated 6 billion mobile owners in a seamless way.

Ford at MWC

Uses of NFC beyond payment

NFC (Near-field communications) was one of the clear talking points of MWC this year, with the event itself even introducing NFC phone badges so visitors did not have to show their passports when entering the venue.

The uptake of NFC among consumers has not experienced the mass-uptake major companies were expecting when the technology was first brought to market.

Until recently, talk of NFC services has been mostly limited to handset makers and payment providers but MWC this year held host to many other brands who are jumping on the NFC bandwagon such as Coke, IHG and accessories manufacturer JBL.

As more brands provide NFC services beyond those looking to facilitate a transaction, NFC is looks set to provide consumers with more added value. Given upgrade cycles and the fact that most new flagship handsets have NFC compatibility, brands should start looking at more ways they can use the technology to drive engagement with their campaigns – perhaps signalling the death knell for the unsightly QR code.

Phablets

LG Phablet
LG displayed smartphones and tablets at MWC 2013.

Phablets: an annoying portmanteau of words but an exciting convergence of devices. Handset makers including Huawei, ZTE, Samsung and LG all releasing new over-sized phone/minimised tablet devices at the event.

LG communications director Ken Hong said consumer uptake of such devices are a growing trend, particularly in Asia where they are favoured by women who can place them in their purse rather than pockets.

For marketers the burgeoning phablet market represents a bit of a headache – especially considering the mobile device market is so fragmented already. Marketers and media buyers will increasingly have to place responsive design front and centre of their mobile marketing campaigns, apps and websites to ensure they render correctly for the varying sizes of screen.

While phablet mania may be an irritant initially, the trend offers marketers the opportunity to present users rich media with a geolocation element while they are out and about – a bonus considering most tablet users tend to use their devices most in the home.

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