Mobile World Congress: 2014’s headlines will be advertising, rather than device-led

For those who’ve accepted the notion that swanning to Cannes’ Gutter Bar every year might not be the only way to get ahead in advertising, we’ll be reporting directly from this year’s Mobile World Congress where the new advertising cognoscenti are spending their dollars.

Mobile World Congress (MWC) is the single biggest global event of the year entirely dedicated to mobile.  Next week the international mobile industry will gather in Barcelona, the buzzing Spanish city officially anointed as the Mobile World Capital until 2017.

Part trade exhibition, part conference and with a hefty dose of after-hours parties and networking, it’s traditionally the place where the giants of mobile manufacturing unveil their latest products.  Everyone in the mobile ecosystem – that’s over 70,000 people (based on 2013’s figures) – from app developers to hardware builders and technology manufacturers will all be out in force.

But this year, potentially for the first time, its headlines will be firmly advertising and not device-led. The fact that one in every three tweets in my feed over the past few days relates to Facebook’s purchase of What’s App, has signaled that the timing of this announcement will firmly steal the limelight.

The big guns’ new handsets

On every other front, 2014 looks set to be a landmark year. Samsung is tipped to unveil its S5 handset and there’s considerable social buzz around Nokia’s teaser campaign. This points to a ‘X’ marks the style poster, which presumably will announce its Nokia X handset and their first foray into Android. There’s sure to be stacks more from HTC, Sony, Apple, LG, Lenovo and Huawei.

All this, plus new tablets, connected humanity and wearable technology to consider, topped off with Mark Zuckerberg’s keytnote speech, elevates Mobile World Congress 2014 somewhat stratospherically to the ranks of CES. So there’s an enormous deal to get really really excited about.

How agencies can stay a step ahead

So why is it important? And how will it impact me? The short answer is that we simply cannot afford to ignore it if we want to stay informed about which way the future is pointing. All of these products and services directly impact our social interactions and change the future. As a mobile agency it’s our job to stay both in step and one step ahead of that change.

Facebook is a social networking product whose core business lies in advertising. MWC’s positioning of Mr Zuckerberg as the keynote speaker means it’s clear that the advertising industry and advertisers should note this down as a crucial event in the calendar.

James Connelly is co-founder of mobile marketing agency Fetch

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