MWC 2015: The Mobile Video Marketplace Heats Up

Mobile World Congress (MWC 2015) in Barcelona was this year ringing with talk on everything from 5G and big data, to the Internet of Things and next-generation handsets featuring life-changing functionality (such as mobile key for your car)! But mobile advertising – a subject rarely in the spotlight at this global gathering of the world’s mobile industry – proved to be front and centre for the first time. Treated by the conference as a topic in its own right, mobile marketing and advertising even got a dedicated conference on the first day of the event, headed-up by Facebook and the IAB.

Mobile display has been marketers’ bread and butter up until now. But mobile video is proving to be its hot and hungry sibling – and one that’s quickly gaining the industry’s attention, as testified by conversations amongst the growing ranks of mobile networks and exchanges at MWC.

Mobile video advertising used to a complicated affair, but thanks to growing demand for rich mobile content – along with Video Ad Serving Template (VAST) integrations, and the introduction of Device IDs (IDFA & GAID) – it was evident to the Videology team that publishers are actively supporting in-app mobile video. Previously mobile-display-only networks and exchanges are increasing looking to capitalise on the mobile video opportunity. 

Driving this market momentum is a fundamental change in how the industry approaches what could be termed “the mobile data problem.” In the recent past, it’s been widely accepted that individual user data for mobile – the kind of data required to build an idea of the mobile user you’re talking to – is impossible to come by. Typically the domain of mobile operators, this type of insight has remained securely out of reach. 

But what became clear at MWC 2015 was a move to build user data from other mobile specific assets. For example, the location of a mobile device can provide insight into whether a consumer is a frequent business traveller or a regular coffee-drinker. App data is also being extracted to help determine user interests based on the types of apps installed on device. Even more importantly, we’re seeing a growing trend for this data, a by-product of mobile activity, to be tied together to help provide a holistic view of a person’s interests, product engagement and profile.

Across the entire ecosystem represented at the conference, there was a growing sense of the need to collaborate to accelerate access to this kind of data. After all, context and an understanding of the consumer journey is fundamental to effective mobile advertising. Marketers need to understand audiences and behaviours on the individual level, breaking down the “big picture” information to understand engagements by demographics, devices and context.

For the first time, participants in the mobile video world (from apps through to dynamic creative providers) are proving open to the idea of sharing the profile data accessible on consumers. The result: a rigorous land-grab as previously mobile display demand-side platforms (DSPs) rush to seize mobile video inventory, making this an increasingly competitive marketplace.

It was also encouraging to see that several mobile operators, operating across different countries, are now open to discussing the idea of sharing their data with third parties – something previously inconceivable as a result of privacy and regulatory issues, as well as corporate inertia. 

If this aspiration becomes a reality, the mobile advertising world truly will have the tools to fill the mobile data void that has, for so long, stood at odds with marketers’ need to inform campaigns with consumer insight and behaviours.  As new inventory and data sources open up, it will be fascinating to see how the marketplace will evolve over the next 12 months, just in time for the mobile world to reconvene in Barcelona at MWC 2016.  

This article first appeared in MediaTel on March 6, 2015.

Catherine Hallam

Director of Data Strategy & Analytics

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