The hype has died down, and enough time has passed since the high-energy week that is Mobile World Congress. Now that we’ve had an opportunity a step back from our experience, it’s a perfect time to share our thoughts on the trends we observed in Barcelona and what it could mean for the future of advertising.

To start, we asked our CEO, Itamar Benedy, for his take on this year’s show:

MWC indicated what mobile ad tech is going to look like in 2018. While 2017 was all about sophisticating standalone opportunities for mobile such as creative ad formats, retargeting capabilities and new distribution channels like OEM traffic, the mature state of these technologies displayed in Barcelona signaled the industry is ready to merge them. MWC kicked off a future for a programmatic exchange for playables and for OEMs. Another interesting direction is an app install campaign combined with retargeting and playables.

He adds, “along with that, we saw AR, Smart TV, and Blockchain emerging as interesting technologies that can solve real problems for advertising in two to three years. As soon as mobile technologies consolidate, we’ll start and see these technologies transforming mobile advertising space even more.

Let’s dive into some of the trends arising from MWC that are likely to impact the way we advertise.


5G dominated the conference

5G was certainly prevalent across the entire conference with the likes of Ericsson, Intel, Huawei and Telstra divulging their 5G plans.

Intel announced a multi-year collaboration with Unigroup Spreadtrum & RDA to produce a 5G phone platform, while Huawei launched its first commercial 5G CPE. They claim it will be able to support download speeds of up to 2.3Gbps.

The bandwidth and latency benefits of 5G means significant advantages for advertising as well. Adverts will load faster, which will see interactive adverts being served easier and meeting viewability standards. The ad tech ecosystem needs to deliver faster performance, especially in a world where consumers expect an instant response. In terms of programmatic, 5G could be the tipping point for programmatic auctions happening in a few milliseconds instead of hundreds of milliseconds – the current rate.


Personalization in 21st century mobile

IAB released research at MWC that showed how consumers are creating their own points of highly concentrated engagement through the day. A related panel discussion titled ‘How to Build a 21st Century Mobile Always Brand’ explored the importance of advertisers capturing the attention of the individual at times they are most engaged.

Panelist Matt Beal, Director of Innovation & Architecture at Vodafone, said “you have to give customers the choice of level of personalization they want.”

Recent research backs this up as well, with a recent Salesforce study finding that 52% of consumers would leave brands that don’t personalize communications. The same study also revealed that 65% believed personalization influences their brand loyalty.

This also extends to apps as fine-tuning push notifications are an important way to increase engagement, retention and loyalty. Over the week, there was a general theme about how brands can tell better stories through data driven personalization. Advertisers are becoming more aware of the need to deliver exciting creatives, and should capitalize on the opportunities to reach their target consumers on a daily basis . Personalization is sure to be a continuing trend for the year ahead and into next year’s MWC.


Brand safety comes to the forefront

The continued theme of brand safety ran throughout MWC – most prominently by Bank Of America when they announced at the event that they would be hiring a brand safety officer. This new role will be dedicated to ensuring that the company’s advertising doesn’t appear alongside questionable content online.

Lou Paskalis, a senior vice president at Bank of America, said the new role was a reaction to growing fears within Bank of America that advertising could be seen as a net negative to the company.

“I get a text from my chief financial officer every time there is news about a brand safety issue,” Paskalis said in The Drum. “I know why he is sending them to me … at some point he is going to say, ‘gee is marketing safe to invest in?’ and we don’t want that. We have to clean up our house right now.”

“It is a function of the marketer to hold to account the individual platforms to get better,” Paskalis added.

With the impending arrival of GDPR, the importance of brand safety is going to continue to come under the spotlight for everyone involved in the advertising chain. We’ll have some more information about what Glispa is doing to combat fraud in future blog posts, so keep your eyes peeled.


Crypto and Blockchain making waves

Cryptocurrency is everywhere and MWC was no exception, arguably creating the same kind of waves 5G, AR, and AI. MWC became a platform for many companies to discuss the shift in their business operations.

One example is Rakuten, the Japanese e-commerce giant, who used its keynote speech to announce it was turning its loyalty program points into crypto tokens called Rakuten Coin. Since it started 15 years ago, it has awarded $9 billion worth of points, demonstrating the weight they believe crypto will have in strengthening consumer loyalty.

The future for blockchain martech could see it become a major scene at MWC, just this past week it was announced that blockchain had grown by 400% over the last six months and has real potential to impact the martech and ad tech space. Without a doubt, this trend will only continue, and we’re curious to see how large footprint will be at MWC 2019.


And finally, thank you!

This year at Mobile World Congress was monumental for our company. The last 10 years has been an incredible journey, and our time in Barcelona marked the beginning of a new chapter. A chance to showcase our rebranding and acquisitions over the past two years.

We would like to thank everyone who was able to drink a cup a coffee with us from our bicycling barista, sip on Sangria during our happy hours, and join us for thoughtful discussions about the future of ad tech. Over the coming weeks, we will be releasing videos on some of the ideas stemmed from MWC, including footage from talk on GDPR at the NEXTech Lab by Jon Hook, our Chief Commercial Officer.

How was MWC 2018 for you? Any noticeable trends or perhaps something you missed that you thought would be at the show? Please share any highlights you may have had or anything you hope to see at next year’s conference with