Attendees of Mobile World Congress (MWC) have come to expect an incisive view of where the mobile industry is now and where it is going. The 2016 conference was no different, and as OpenX joined the crowd in Barcelona for a keynote session featuring Sir Martin Sorrell, Chief Executive of WPP, anticipation of his views on the next game-changing mobile trends and developments was high. Here is our pick of the factors Sir Martin expects will dominate the mobile advertising revolution in the year ahead:
While consumers have embraced the mobile revolution it seems the majority of the advertising industry has yet to catch up. Quoting the 2015 KPCB Internet Trends report, Sorrell highlighted that while time spent on mobile was 24%, advertising investment in mobile was just 8% — lower than spend for TV, Radio, and even print. Penetration is not where it should be, among larger companies in particular, and this is because the advertising industry has not contextualized mobile effectively.
A widespread belief that creative vision belongs only to old-school thinkers like Mad Men’s Don Draper and not today’s tech men, combined with the difficulties of adjusting to mobile, are two of the chief causes for ad blocking — according to Sorrell. Advertisers are still struggling to adapt their messages to make the right impact on smaller screens and outdated thinking is keeping them from taking the necessary steps towards more technology-focused, engaging digital ads.
Big brands still view mobile as an optional extra for advertising strategy, rather than an integral element, and Sorrell argues this could be due to the inefficiency of mobile campaign measurement. Brands are unwilling to allocate greater media budgets to mobile until they can be assured of its impact on their business, highlighting the need for mobile attribution that demonstrates tangible value and thereby stimulates investment.
In the multi-screen age, is monitoring time spent the best way to gauge the popularity of media channels? This was the question posed by Sorrell when he raised the issue of time-spent vs. engagement, and it is one that is sure to be high on the industry agenda in the year ahead. With consumers hopping between channels as a matter of course, tracking their behaviour instead of how long they view content does seem to offer a more accurate picture of channel longevity and impact.
The most striking element of MWC for Sorrell was Virtual Reality (VR). With hardware now at a high level of sophistication, he tipped VR as the next thing to transform live sports and entertainment — and the ads in between — by providing an immersive experience that makes consumers part of the story. Although software may prove a stumbling block, Sorrell was confident that VR is set to disrupt the advertising industry.
So according to Sorrell mobile is everywhere, but to get brands on board advertisers must adjust their creative thinking, enhance mobile measurement, and take heed of VR’s rising influence. Will the year see his theories come to fruition? Only time will tell.