What MWC 2016 Means for Outdoor Advertisers: Nick Halas comments to MediaTel

Posterscope’s Nick Halas is back from Barcelona and says 2016 is going to be a transformative year for out-of-home.
Mobile World Congress (MWC) has evolved into one of the biggest consumer technology showcases in the world. Mobile technology is increasingly becoming part of everyday behaviours, greatly impacting how consumers engage with each other.
As mobile increasingly drives societal behaviour, it’s changing the way individuals interact with brands. Mobile is having a huge impact in advertising sectors – not least out-of-home (OOH) advertising.
This year’s MWC demonstrated a market readiness for technology which has been emerging over the last few years in prototype and early stage forms, including major developments for connected devices.
Major focus areas included wearables, home security and smart cities, alongside with proof of the evolution of not just connected cars, but also almost any connected device you can think of: including the ‘connected cow’ (a genuine agricultural innovation), as well as some which are equally innovative, if (in my opinion), somewhat creepy, like Sony’s Xperia Ear.
This tidal wave of change promises to be transformational for everyone involved in the OOH ecosystem, particularly for the digital OOH sector. Here are some key themes that I believe our industry needs to address following this year’s MWC:

  1. Alliances are powerful

Partnerships are one of those things that are very easy to discuss and propose, but much harder to actually turn into a real success. However, the tech giants and major consumer brands are clearly understanding that the need to come together and collaborate is more important than ever in creating positive change.
This was apparent throughout the show – for example, Lenovo and Google’s Project Tango – a next generation operating system and product set. Or Volvo and Ericsson’s connected vehicle, and in the luxury goods market Tag Heuer and Intel’s new smart watch. ‘Luxury brand plus tech giant’ is an equation we’ll see more of, certainly.
For the OOH industry, we’re already starting to reap the benefits of a more collaborative approach. In the US, the NYC Link project is a great demonstration of how OOH has redefined its principles by building in public utility, via free Wi-Fi for the entire NY population.
By looking outside its core, the OOH industry can deliver solutions that increasingly become part of consumer utility, engagement and connectivity, without losing the opportunity to engage with target audiences

  1. Connectivity, connectivity, connectivity

MWC is a barometer event. It shows us evolving trends, and provides an indication as to if and when certain trends are going to take off. Of everything on display at the Congress this year, it’s the continued evolution of IoT that probably holds the most for OOH advertisers.
These developments suggest OOH advertisers will be better able to interact and engage with people by using beacons, image recognition or device pairing. I expect to see this extend into CRM and payments, (witness Visa’s expansion of its Visa Ready Program), as well as into the automobile sector as both connected cells – the car and the poster site – will be able to communicate with each other.
In short, we’ll see far greater collaboration with digital and mobile campaigns, both as an extension network and as a platform for the delivery of dynamic personalised messaging, all of which will build on OOH’s ability to deliver fame and attention for brands.
In this regard, ‘mobile’ refers less to the handset, and instead to whichever device, or ‘thing’ within the Internet of Things that the consumer has with them.

  1. Audience insight

New levels of connectivity across a vast and expanding number of connected devices is set to act as a springboard for far deeper levels of consumer insight. For OOH advertisers, this has tremendous implications for both the targeting of campaigns and increasing the impact of messaging through the right contextual message being delivered at the right time, and in the right place.
From our own experience, we’re already seeing vastly improved processes through partnerships with EE, XAd and Locomizer. These provide an incredible new layer of understanding of micro-location data, which informs greater insights about the OOH consumer. Increasingly this insight will not just fuel the traditional OOH space, but will help in evaluating the experiential event space as well.
The increased application and adoption of small cell technology through population movement and audience segmentation data will provide significantly more robust research and evaluation systems into events. Additionally, CRM connectivity with mobile devices will enable OOH advertisers to begin to track and evaluate campaigns, and traffic attribution post-event.

  1. VR and events: a match made in technology heaven

Virtual Reality, (VR), is not new, and in fact we have already used it in several experiential campaigns. However, the move toward mass market adoption changes the game, and the renewed focus on VR built to a fever pitch at this year’s MWC, driven in no small part by the hardware announcements from major, global, technology superbrands.
Several new products were updated and launched early on, including HTC’s Vive and LG’s new VR headset.
Additionally, Samsung’s Gear 360 camera will capture VR videos, (although LG’s device boasts an incredible 70 hours of video recording, which will take some beating); but perhaps most significantly, Samsung announced its Gear VR headsets will be provided free with all pre orders of the S7 and S7 Edge handsets.
Facebook announced the creation of a VR team, dedicated to creating new ways for people to have social experiences in VR.
The mainstream drive means greater ability for technology to create immersive experiences for consumers, but we need to keep quality at the core. Any new technology is only ever as good as its weakest public solution, and if brands use VR badly, everyone risks getting stung.

  1. Infrastructure imbalance

It’s easy to read the road ahead as incredibly positive, but there is word of warning. Despite optimism at events like MWC, there’s an undercurrent of uncertainty. Technology is always a gamble, and several major tech giants have gone through tough times recently as investment wasn’t made at the right time.
In the coming years the OOH industry will face the same parallels. The increasing sophistication of existing technology and the birth of new platforms, along with increasing digital infrastructure and more connectivity will require major level investment.
We’re already seeing this investment from several of the bigger media owners – but as MWC’s evolution demonstrates, keeping pace with technological change can be a tough order to fill.
The world is on the cusp of some very exciting new technologies, which will have a tremendous transformative impact on the OOH industry – as seen at this year’s Congress. We need to be ready for change, and if we get it right the future for OOH looks very bright indeed.
Nick Halas is head of futures at Posterscope
This feature was first published in MediaTel 

Mobile World Congress: What the Advertising Industry Learned reports The Guardian

As the sun sets on the Barcelona event for another year, what do the announcements and innovations mean for the ad industry?
More than 100,000 delegates from 204 countries attended Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona, while 2,200 companies exhibited their wares.
So what were the important announcements from MWC 2016? In the lead up to the event, virtual reality (VR) was expected to make a splash, while many were hoping for insight on hot topics such as adblocking, internet of things and data security. We spoke to four MWC delegates, including Nick Halas, Head of Futures at Posterscope, on what they thought of the event and what the innovations might mean for the future of the advertising industry.
Nick Halas, head of futures at Posterscope
In spite of the plethora of new mobile device releases and mass media frenzy over VR, in fact the evolution of IoT [internet of things] was the trend at this year’s MWC that may hold the most for out-of-home (OOH) advertisers. The mass market is gearing up for connected cars, like Huawei and Audi’s new partnerships, wearables and home security. It’s essentially becoming every connected device you can think of – including those that are innovative but in my opinion somewhat creepy, like the Sony Xperia Ear.
There’s a tidal wave of change that IoT is bringing with it, and it’s promising to be transformational for everyone involved in the OOH ecosystem, particularly for the digital out-of-home sector. We’ll be seeing greater collaboration with digital and mobile campaigns, both as an extension network and as a platform for the delivery of dynamic personalised messaging.
Additionally, it will enable advertisers to better interact and engage with consumers via beacons, image recognition or device pairing. This will extend into CRM and payments, such as Visa’s expansion of its Visa Ready program, and even possibly directly with vehicular movement as both connected cells – the car and the poster site – will be able to communicate with each other.
To read the full article in the Guardian  click here
Photograph: Albert Gea/Reuters

What OOH can take from Mobile World Congress. By Ben Milne, head of innovation

Last week thousands worshipped at the altar of Mobile World Congress 2015. Microsoft won big collecting 10 awards including best tablet and best of MWC 2015, Facebook co-founder and chief executive Mark Zuckerberg held the keynote, however their notable Californian neighbours were missing.
Apple opted out of attending instead they decided to spring forward and launch the Apple Watch (for real this time) at their own event as well as expand on Apple Pay. As one might expect, this was a relatively simple affair without any huge surprises. The focus was on the watch, specifically on its function, form and connectivity.
It was a safe bet, as these are the universal elements that consumers are looking for in their mobile technology choices and were reflected across all the halls at MWC 2015. It got me thinking whether out-of-home (OOH) could look to mobile developments in these areas for its own continued evolution?
So what’s next in Digital OOH form factor? Like their big LED TV brothers our portable handheld devices are now shipping with curves, the latest form has emerged as evidenced in handsets such as the Samsung S6 Edge which uses the curved edge to provide people with useful notifications and navigation. If people become used to this kind of UI on their mobile devices, then could this be useful for Digital OOH screens?
In the future, media owners could display ancillary information or real time travel updates, time and weather on the curved edge, whilst allowing advertisers to utilise the full time and area of the main display. Alternatively, could the curved edge on peoples handsets become the default area for notifications received from OOH displays and locations such as Beacons? This would certainly improve the experience for consumers.
So what of function? Perhaps the biggest functional development on show at MWC 2015 was the advance in mobile transaction platforms and partnerships. Separate announcements from Samsung and Visa in this space certainly add to the bubbling potential that existing platforms like Paypal, Starbucks and Apple Pay herald.
With this growing simplicity and reality of mobile payment it is becoming clear that there is huge potential for OOH to perform as a virtual shop front allowing consumers to transact directly from a poster, eradicating the gap between engagement and purchase, with the option to collect their purchases from an OOH locker on their way home the same day.
Of course, all of this relies on the consumers being connected and at MWC the connected consumer was front and centre. 5G has moved from concept to prototype, bringing unimaginable speed to the on the go consumers of the near future. This bandwidth increase will be important as more of the machines we are used to are going to need it to communicate with us and each other.
Driverless cars were the domain of CES, however MWC brought us the Car connected to the home and the bicycle connected to the car – with the aim of reducing accidents, of course. These ‘connected life’ developments will create rich data that could be used to understand OOH consumer location, behaviour and intent and will undoubtedly feed the real time creation and deployment of personalised content that we expect to see on Digital OOH in the near future.
Read the article in MediaTel