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An insightful visit to the Mobile World Congress (MWC)

A few weeks ago, our very own Global New Business Director, Richard Downey, joined over 100,000 visitors to the Mobile World Congress (MWC) at Fira de Barcelona. In this article he shares his experience and insights from this monster of a conference.

Set over 9 exhibition halls and four days MWC has become, along with The International Consumer Electronics Show (CES), the biggest technology focused trade shows in the world. I have been visiting MWC for 5 years now and, it seems to me, that the event gets bigger with every passing year. Hotel rooms become harder to find and AirBnB prices reach unprecedented levels. With the effort and expenses attached to an MWC trip getting steeper every year I was thinking of giving the 2018 version a miss.

However, as the dates approached my overwhelming FOMO got too much to resist. So, I booked my flights and off I went. And I was very happy that I did.

On an unusually cold Monday morning, with pass in hand, I made my way to Fira de Barcelona.

The size of MWC takes a bit of getting used to but, armed with a few years’ experience I was able to find my way pretty quickly to Hall 8.1. Named AppsWorld, it is one of the smaller spaces but filled with companies and organisations focused on the business of apps. As we have a number of app clients here at The Specialist Works it’s always the first place I like to head to.

Meeting with a number of mobile networks and tech suppliers the number one topic of discussion and concern was, unsurprisingly, ad fraud. How to spot it, how to stop it and what to do if you suspect that your campaigns have suffered from it.

Although mobile app acquisition advertising continues to grow in scale it is more vulnerable to fraudulent attribution than almost any other digital tactic.

The issue of false attribution, the process of an install being reported as originating from paid advertising when it’s actually organic has bugged the app acquisition world for a while. TSW’s take on the issue is that the whole industry needs to raise its game. Networks need to monitor their publishers more closely, mobile measurement solutions need to flag up suspicious activity quicker and media buyers need to keep a closer eye on their campaign performance. In mobile if something seems too good to be true it usually is. The fact that the issue is being taken seriously and greater rigour is being applied to campaign management will lead to a cleaner industry but everybody needs to play their part.

Day 2 of the event saw TSW join a tour of the event led by Jason Hiner, Editor in Chief at TechRepublic. This was the first time I had joined one of the event tours although I had noticed them many times around the event.

I found the tour to be extremely valuable. It’s sometimes difficult in a show the size of MWC to know where to visit and what to look at. There’s just so much going on. With that in mind the tour was an ideal way to learn about the tech trends that dominate the hardware side of the show.

And it was all about 5G. The potential that its implementation will bring to almost every part of life. From cars to smart cities. Although wide scale roll out is still a couple of years away the technology is ready and will transform the way the world connects to the internet. As long as the providers can get the pricing right 5G could be the biggest advancement in mobile connectivity in many years.

Other highlights of the tour included getting a look at ZTE’s dual screen phone and seeing the resurgent Nokia have the confidence to exhibit the Nokia 3310. A phone I owned ten years ago!

MWC splits opinion amongst the mobile industry. Apple don’t attend, never have. Some see this as a show of confidence/arrogance other see it as a sign that shows of this size aren’t suitable places to do business. I can see why some might think that but for me MWC gives me a chance to catch up with some industry friends and connect with some new ones. And in terms of getting the whole sector together in one place for a week there really is nothing like it.

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