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Five takeaways from Mobile World Congress

We’ve seen all sorts of news coming out of Mobile World Congress 2014 in Barcelona, but it appears the biggest overall trend is a renewed focus on emerging markets. The App planet section at the event was buzzing with companies offering a suite of advertising solutions.

The five most noteworthy trends evolving for mobile advertising in emerging markets are:

#1 Mobile ad tech is on the rise
Throughout 2014 and beyond, emerging markets will see more players in the space of real time bidding, mobile retargeting, mobile DSPs, mobile ad servers and other mobile ad tech companies. Buying platforms and ad servers such as Smaato and Nexage will benefit from the industry’s shift to exchange-based and programmatic trading models. Some of the mobile ad networks seemed to find it hard to put out a coherent story around new trends and spoke about quality and data at their core. This will bring in an increased level of much needed transparency to the advertising ecosystem.

#2 Cheaper smartphones = better communication opportunities
This year handset-makers really dug in, using press conferences to vocalise their goals at nabbing the next billion users and presenting lower cost phones meant for first-time smartphone owners. Mozilla introduced a smart phone at USD 25, with the enhanced FireFox OS aimed at challenging Google’s Android play. The phone is to be launched in Q2 2014, among Alcatel and ZTE. Nokia introduced its X range of phones on Android at USD 50-80. LG introduced its L series aimed at emerging markets. As companies tackle the issue of rural market distribution and data connectivity, these phones will pave the way for enhanced ways to reach out to a mass audience on mobile, which is currently restricted to SMS and voice communication.

#3 Facebook’s commitment – internet for everyone
Facebook is clearly committed to an internet that is accessible to more people at an affordable price. This is in line with Facebook’s goal of being a ‘mobile company’.

As keynote speaker, Mark Zuckerberg spent most of his time discussing Internet.org, the ambitious project that aims to get the whole world online. As key partnerships fall in line, 2015 and beyond would only open out new advertising models that ride on cheaper and faster access to internet for emerging markets, which ease out and shift the payment for data services from end users.

#4 Entry of ad networks
Everyone is looking at APAC as their expansion market. Companies like Xad, Tapjoy, Tremor Video and so on that are predominant in the Americas and the UK are now looking at Asia markets as launch this year. From a region dominated by 3-4 mobile ad networks, we will see a diversity of networks bringing in new set of innovations in ad formats, buying models, targeting and tracking capabilities.

#5 Mobile content and discovery apps
As brands increasingly take the path to app creation, discovery apps really are becoming a key distribution path now in addition to conventional approaches such as mobile banner ads. App Gratis and App Turbo showcased their discovery and curating platform that recommends specific apps to the user. Plenty of companies are offering platforms to create mobile-ready content quickly, such as AppMachine. This offers advertisers opportunities to get mobile ready at a fast pace, if they are not already.

Atibhi Mehra

A part of the digital team at Mindshare, Atibhi Mehra is a Partner at Mindshare's Mobile Centre of Excellenc