3 Mobile Marketing Trends from MWC 2015

By Thomas Sommer | March 11th, 2015

Last week saw one of the largest and most awaited mobile events take Barcelona by storm. Traditionally, MWC has mostly been about power display from the larger players (leading some to ask, is it too big?) as well as hardware product launches. However, today the show is no longer solely about hardware and, as testified by the success of the App Planet pavilion, service and technology providers are playing an increasingly important part on the event.Here are our three mobile marketing takeaways from MWC 2015. For an overly comprehensive roundup of all hardware announcements, head here. For 10 other mind-boggling stats about MWC 2015 you can use at cocktail parties, click here.

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1) The Rise of Mobile Marketing Automation

VentureBeat has had a full category on the topic for some time, but marketing automation now seems to have definitely found its way into mobile. This year saw a lot of players from the space exhibiting or attending the show, including companies such as Appboy, Localytics and Urban Airship.By mobile marketing automation, we mean mobile CRMs, or Customer Relationship Management Services. These marketing services help apps automate and optimize communication with their users. They can for instance send push notifications to the right user segments at the right time. They work by making use of apps’ first party data (such as user behavior) to craft a specific message and convey it to the right users.More competition in the mobile space means need for a more professional management of user bases, in order to improve all KPIs along the user lifecycle: engagement, retention, vitality, and obviously monetization. With costs of acquisitions rising, app publishers and advertisers now understand that it is wiser to try and increase the lifetime value of existing users rather than merely acquire new ones to compensate for the churn. Today more than ever, a smart mobile user acquisition strategy needs to be holistic and take the whole user journey into account.

2) MWC 2015: A Technology Stack or Nothing

The second trend we observed at MWC is the fact that, in 2015, no serious mobile marketing company can offer services without a solid technology stack under the hood. If earlier editions saw a focus on specific technological areas (rich media, RTB, video, native), at MWC 2015 the emphasis was more on the general technological theme. All exhibiting companies indeed had (or claimed to have) a technology to show for instead of a purely service-driven business.The likely explanation is that, following the classic platform maturation pattern, product is slowly but inevitably taking precedence over marketing. Today, you need to offer sturdy technology to matter in mobile marketing and advertising. There is no real service without an actual product.

3) Branding Is Taking Off

The question of how much time it would take before brands start to embrace the small screen was raised since the beginning of advertising on mobile. Indeed, looking at the difference between the time spent and ad spend in comparison to other media, there is a huge opportunity gap that should eventually be filled (the so-called “Meeker Gap”, from Mary Meeker’s Internet Trends Report). In 2015, the question remains: will brands start flocking to mobile? Will the rise of premium integrations, native and video as well as efficient and reliable cross-channel attribution make the shift possible? This is left to be seen.

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Beyond traditional brands however, smaller, mobile-first companies have started to leverage branding for their user acquisition strategy. A good example of this trend is the recent craze of major game publishers for TV campaigns. As an advertiser of AppLift put it, TV advertising is effective because it "validates the product by legitimizing the brand”.More generally, branding can also be a great leverage to improve all performance metrics and better KPIs along the user lifecycle. For instance, social networking app Lovoo has long been using YouTube influencers for user acquisition.Developing the brand for mobile-first and mobile-only advertisers also makes sense in a longer term perspective. Its beneficial effects are long-lasting and do not require as much sustained effort as performance does if used on a stand-alone basis.What do you think were the trends at MWC 2015? Let us know in the comments!

Thomas Sommer
Thomas heads up content marketing at AppLift. As such he’s in charge of sourcing, curating, creating and distributing insightful content to increase visibility and thought leadership for the company. Thomas loves to scrutinize the relentless and trilling developments of the mobile industry. You can follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn.