Next week we shall all be decamping to Barcelona for Mobile World Congress, where I look forward to doing battle with 110,000 delegates and 250,000 internationally sourced pick-pockets – but while I keep a firm grip on the family jewels, I am intrigued by what the show this year will look like.
From what I have seen of the pre-show bumpf so far, this year is once again very much about the connected car, smart cities and all things IoT. This is all very interesting and I am sure is going to play a huge role in our telemedia lives going forward, however, the here and now isn’t really being catered for. Certainly not in the GSMA’s own hyperbole in the run up to the event.
One glaring issue is that, while the industry gathers to pat itself on the back, shout encouraging things into its own echo-chamber and generally blow smoke up its own arse is that mobile advertising is in trouble, A2P messaging is rife with fraud, and mobile payments hasn’t really gone anywhere yet.
Advertising as we know it is in trouble: no one wants to watch ads and most people skip them. On mobile this is especially problematic as consumers are usually after something immediate when they pick up their mobile and don’t want to sit through an ad.
Where does this leave mobile marketing? Of course, if the content can be improved then people may stop and listen, but this sort of thing is no longer how people operate.
These days the idea of brand awareness is dead: instead it is about engagement – and that could spell the end of mobile advertising as we know it. It will be interesting to see what solutions are on offer at MWC to marry these two worlds.
One part of the engagement puzzle is messaging. While there has been much said about the role SMS and OTT messaging can now play in consumer engagement, there are worrying signs that spam and fraud are creeping into this latent new marketing for telemedia.
According to the Mobile Ecosystem Forum (MEF), the problem of sharp practice and down right fraud are holding back the A2P messaging market quite dramatically. As the use of Chatbots and automated messaging for customer services and engagement start to really take off this could become a real issue.
While MEF will be at MWC showing off its new Enterprise Mobile Messaging Guide to tackle such bad practices head-on in a proactive move by industry to better support buyers of messaging, it will be interesting to see what else is on offer at the show and if anyone is going to pick apart the many downsides of this.
Which brings us to payments. Mobile payments have been touted about at MWC for many years and, despite a wealth of solutions being launched and showcased over those years at the show, nothing much has happened out in the real world.
In fact, one could argue that the only real success in mobile payments has been Apple Pay (never at MWC) and Uber’s seamless payments (also not at MWC). With PSD2 in the offing and the rise of carrier billing across some mainstream players such as Microsoft, I am hoping that I come home from Barcelona not only with all my own valuables but also with plenty of hopeful news that mobile payments and messaging are not about to be swallowed up in to the automotive industry.