MWC 2017: Connecting with Consumers on Mobile

MWC 2017: Connecting with Consumers on Mobile

14th March 2017

Last week in Barcelona over 100,000 people attended the 12th annual Mobile World Congress, otherwise known as MWC. From February 27th to March 2nd, attendees heard from a range of keynote speakers, interacted with several exhibits, and heard multiple presentations on, as MWC puts it, “latest technological developments, next generation services and growth strategies.”

This blog reviews the major topics at  MWC 2017 from a digital marketers perspective, noting how today’s innovations and announcements on mobile change the way we interact with customers.

MWC 2017: 3 Major Mobile Topics that Matter for Digital Marketers

From messaging apps to reliance on personal assistants, our options for connecting with customers through mobile keeps growing. MWC 2017 was centralized on “The Next Element,” meant to define how elemental mobile has become in our everyday lives. Mobile has indeed become elemental for a good portion of the world and within the mobile world, there is a lot to address.

The 2017 Mobile World Congress focused on a few major topics, starting with AI (and there are tons of directions to take that), and moving on to 5G as the two biggest areas, followed by messaging apps, and mobile payments and the internet of things as other focuses.

Connectivity is always a major topic when we think of mobile – whether it enterprise expectations for 5G or an increase in pesonalized content, connecting with consumers matters.

Looking at MWC 2017, a few areas stand out for the way marketers and businesses are reaching consumers in new ways through mobile.

AI: Of course AI was a major theme for MWC 2017. Artificial intelligence is a major theme everywhere we look. Artificially intelligent products and services – a strong portion that are being built for mobile hardware – continue to change our interactions with products on a human level. Important areas for mobile include speech recognition and natural language processing, search, and image recognition and mapping, which all come into play for many AI mobile products. To name a few of the focuses, driverless cars and personal assistants were hot topics.

One of the biggest attention grabbers at MWC was Telefonica’s Jose Maria Alvarex-Pallete who announced it is transforming and digitizing the company by putting AI at the center of its business with the launch of AI assistant Aura. The focus is on constant customer interaction with Aura. Telecommunications companies struggle with their customers changing carriers and have employed AI to help.

How else do the AI announcements or exhibits at MWC 2017 relate to marketing? Well, anything from connected cars predicting passenger’s next moves to weather prediction matter.  AI advances will continue to help us interact with customers on a whole new level and grow in accuracy the more data acquired.

We should expect to see predictive analytics and hyper-pesonalized advertising coming into play in more creative ways as our interaction with mobile advances. We expect our interactions to be tailored to us and the same applies for advertising.

Messaging Apps: Chat apps are growing over standard texting and currently prove to be one of the biggest it things in mobile. From Whatsapp to Snapchat and Telegram, fewer people are relying on texts and instead enjoying their messaging apps across their devices with such features as disappearing messaging, file transfers, and group chats.

Apps are starting to offer ecommerce options, unique advertising, and a means of communication with customers. Samsung announced it’s acquisition of NewNet communications technologies showing its commitment to RCS or Rich Communication Services.

RCS has drawn a lot of attention with its aim at helping brands interact with customers and revolutionizing digital communications. More and more we are seeing companies trying to directly communicate with customers in the easiest and fastest way possible with 24/7 service.

We watched Snapchat change their platform to include lots more content and a new means to reach users and exchange money. We can expect to see more of that and then some as conversational commerce becomes a thing.

Mobile Video Content: MWC attendees heard from both Netflix and Discovery. On day one of MWC, Netflix’s Reed Hastings told the audience they are investing more in mobile and offering a better experience for their mobile app users.

On day three of MWC, Discovery Networks, the owner of Eurosport, announced  that it’s working to broaden its Olympics coverage to mobile. Their goal is to go “one billion big screens” worldwide to “10 billion mobile screens.”

The more efforts telcom providers make and partnerships we see, the more we can expect for mobile video streaming. As eyeballs shift from TVs and desktops, and users in some parts of the world may only have mobile internet, digital marketers will increasingly need to optimize for mobile.

These changes are creating even more opportunity for connecting. While this isn’t anything new in the mobile scene, it raises the expectations for digital advertisers’ mobile success.

Of course MWC 2017 dedicated specific sessions to mobile advertising. The conference offered a handful of tours for advertisers focused on utilizing analytics and learning how to conduct your own market research. Another panel session discussed today’s mobile world and advancements in video ads and VR advertising.

These sessions are always useful and relevant but what stands out are the major themes of MWC that ultimately are changing digital marketing and connections to customers on mobile.

MWC Shanghai in June is focused on “The Human Element” and is expected to bring another round of interesting ideas for digital marketers!


Written By
Melissa McDonald is the International Marketing Manager at Yandex, Russia's leading search engine, which offers free English to Russian translation and optimization for advertisers. Melissa also regularly blogs for, a news and information resource for digital advertising in Russia.
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