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