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[Mobile World Congress 2013] Day three

As the Mobile World Congress heads past its halfway mark, the conference content gets more focused and specialised. The stream that seemed to interest a lot more people than the auditorium could handle was the mobile location (and social) presentation and panel discussions.

The challenges with location

It's clear that location is a complex concept for marketers and has not lived up to the many years of hype and high expectations. Thankfully there are a number of initiatives that are starting to really understand the location opportunity and deliver solutions to support them.

Qualcomm Labs, with its thousands of researchers, has launched a contextual relevance platform, Gimbal (, that allows app developers to include geo-fencing and relevance into apps without having to try and solve these challenges themselves.

When developing the "Star Trek: Into Darkness" application, Paramount Pictures used the Gimbal API to 'deliver advanced real-world game experiences, exclusive content and competition rewards based on geo-fenced locations, image markers and audio scanning.

Peggy Johnson*, EVP for Market Development at Qualcomm, when asked about her view of the future, said "I'm not going to predict what's going to happen in the next 10 years, but I do know that it's going to be magical." With that I concur.

The marketer and innovation disconnect

A theme that has emerged from the conference as a whole and was reiterated by one of the panel discussions was how the rate of innovation and change has resulted in a number of challenges that agencies, media owners and marketers are facing. Some thoughts:
  • How do we optimise all the new marketing channels and technologies when we have traditional mindsets?
  • CMOs need dashboards and proof points for everything, but many of these technologies and platforms are too new to provide comprehensive data
  • We have the most advanced advertising medium in history. But we can't deliver effective adverts through appropriate targeting and optimisation
  • With 20-30 metrics it is not possible to evaluate the effectiveness of campaigns and we must rather understand a few key metrics to assess success
  • This year, CMOs should have experimental and R&D budgets and plan to learn from failing so they can innovate on a small scale, find out what works and ramp up over time
  • Constant innovation must occur with small trials because innovation has become a factor of survival
  • Marketers have the opportunity to learn in real-time, but are still operating in the traditional bought media paradigm because that is where the comfort levels exist
  • There was a classic comment when the discussion moved to ROI and analytics when someone said, 'brand advertising is revenue that comes later.' How true.

Innovation, innovation, innovation

This year's MWC word-cloud is going to be dominated by the word 'innovation'. And surprisingly, the mobile operators are the ones calling for it and driving it.

click to enlarge
Clearly, MNOs have not been easy to do business with and have often not been open enough to innovate freely with. Carlos Domingo from Telefonica Digital was emphatic in his view about how this needs to change. Introducing Lean and Agile methodologies, rolling out the OpenAPI initiative, and partnering with entrepreneurs to take advantage of disruptive new applications of mobile computing are all necessary to deliver on the promises that the future holds.

To quote Douglas Gibson: "The future is already here, it is just not evenly distributed", is clearly evident when seeing the vision that this industry has. It's now just a case of delivering on this promise.

Follow me on Twitter at @angusrobinson and send me your questions or comments.

*Corrected at 12:45pm on 5 March 2013.

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About Angus Robinson

Angus Robinson is Director: mobile, content and community divisions at NATIVE and has 17 years experience with technology start-ups. Angus is also a founding member of the South African Chapter of the Mobile Marketing Association (MMA) and is active on the WASPA Code of Conduct Committee and a number of other WASPA subcommittees. Contact details: Twitter @angusrobinson