Fast Forward: Mobile World Congress 2017 Trend Recap

Editor’s Note: As with all Fast Forward analysis, this recap first went out to our subscribers via newsletter one day prior to its posting on this site. We also customized our recap to offer tailored CES insights for brands in eight verticals including auto, CPG, retail, travel, and more. For inquiries about joining our subscription list, please contact our Client Services Director Samantha Holland (samantha@ipglab.com).

The highlights:

  • Mobile industry starts to move beyond smartphone, looking to explore 5G-powered IoT devices as the next growth area
  • Artificial intelligence sets to bring new dimensions to UX design and power innovative customer solutions
  • Virtual reality had a strong showing, beginning to mature as an interactive, experiential marketing tool

Last week, the Lab team crossed the Atlantic to attend the 2017 Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona, Spain. We were joined by our friends at Ansible, who launched the MDEX, a global index for assessing brand performance and mobile readiness, with a keynote address from Global President Travis Johnson. Together, we scouted the exhibition floors, attended keynote events, and met with industry leaders, innovative startups, and clients. In addition to our daily updates on the big announcements, the Lab is now proud to present this final recap on the most important trends we saw at this year’s event.

For the last few years, we have seen a steady expansion of the common topics at MWC, which started as a trade show for the mobile industry but has since grown to cover a variety of adjacent domains within the digital economy. This trend is particularly pronounced this time around, with talks of 5G, IoT, and Artificial Intelligence dominating the event. As the industry begins to branch out of building the next flashy smartphone to figure out what might be “The Next Element,” the event theme of this year, it sends marketers a harbinger of the changes to come.


5G Is The Near Future

5G has been a topic of discussion at MWC in the years past, albeit mostly as a future aspiration for the industry. But this year, the industry is abuzz with key players pushing for the next-level cellular wireless connectivity with actual products and initiatives.

Samsung hosted a 5G-heavy press conference on Sunday to announce a long list of new devices and IoT efforts that will support 5G. On Monday, Ericsson announced a collaboration on 5G trials with Qualcomm and NTT DOCOMO in Japan, as well as a partnership with Qualcomm to develop a new 5G radio for Vodafone. Cisco announced a partnership with Verizon that aims to help bring 5G connectivity to the enterprise market. Manufacturers such as ZTE, Nokia, and Intel all prominently featured 5G innovations in their press events and exhibitions.

What Brands Need To Do

Despite all the buzz around 5G, the reality remains that it is still at least 2 to 3 years away from deployment at scale. Speeding up cellular connectivity will not fundamentally alter consumer behaviors, although it will help brands to deliver more sophisticated creative in data-heavy formats, such as HD 360-degree video, to mobile users.

The real opportunity for brands that 5G brings lies in the vast number of IoT devices it will enable with a faster and more robust network. There will be over 24 billion connected devices is use by 2020, according to the estimation of BI Intelligence. From connected vehicles to home automation, 5G is set to unleash an unprecedented level of always-on connectivity to more and transform cars and home appliances into an extension of the digital media landscape. This will no doubt open up new channels for brands to reach their customers and gather valuable data.

For example, auto brands might consider integrating 5G connectivity into its infotainment systems to deliver a more reliable digital dashboard experience, whereas a retailer may start implementing 5G-enable IoT networks to power new in-store experiences.


The Rise Of AI-Powered Solutions

Besides the buzz around 5G, another hot topic at this year’s MWC is the quick advances in artificial intelligence and machine learning and how the AI-powered solutions will supercharge brand-customer interactions via the interfaces and personalization tools. And there’s a lot of vendors at the events that are putting AI into good use.

P&G-owned skincare brand Olay made their debut at MWC with the global launch of its AI-powered Skin Advisor platform. Available via Olay’s mini-site, the web-based skin analytics platform leverages artificial intelligence and deep learning to provide skin analysis and personalized product recommendations delivered right on their mobile phones or tablets.

Japan’s leading chat app Line announced Clova, an Alexa-like voice assistant it created with Naver, to bring AI-powered conversational services to the Asian markets. In addition, Line is working with the several companies including Sony and LG to integrate Clova into more consumer gadgets and connected devices.

It’s also telling how some brand executives at the event expressed their interests in AI-solutions. A Coca-Cola executive said the company is interested in using artificial intelligence to improve content, media, and commerce, especially in streamlining the ad creation process and experimenting with automated narratives. In his keynote session, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings revealed that the company is using an AI engine to tweak its video content to make them look good even over slow internet connection. He even jokingly suggested that in 50 years Netflix’s primary customers might be AI robots rather than humans.

What Brands Need To Do

For all the talks of innovations, the mobile tech world is also realizing that it needs to focus more on making the user experience as simple and seamless as possible to drive adoption and, in turn, more innovations. While a younger consumer may have little trouble in adopting the newest digital tools, such as mobile banking app, the older generations will likely need to be guided by a more intuitive and user-friendly UX design to get on board. In this regard, AI-powered solutions, such as voice-based conversational interfaces and personalized recommendations, are the key differentiators in building a more intuitive and frictionless customer experience for all.

The rapid advances in AI and machine learning have the potential to fundamentally change brand-customer relationships and significantly increase customer expectations, especially in regards to customization and user experiences. Smarter chatbots and other AI-powered conversational services will allow brands to engage with even the most non-tech-savvy consumers. The majority of customer service will soon become automated, so there’s no more excuse for latency in replies. In addition, brands also need to figure out how they can leverage their customer data to provide customers personalized experiences with the help of an AI engine.

To more effectively reach customers, for example, CPG brands will need to apply AI to analyze customer data for purchase trends in order to create personalized product recommendations and contextual value offers. For healthcare and fitness brands, AI-powered solutions can be used to analyze health or workout data for behavioral insights in order to deliver personalized health or exercise recommendations.


Virtual Reality Gets More Interactive

Despite the lack of VR-ready smartphones announced at this year’s MWC, virtual reality still had a strong showing as the technology continues to mature. Samsung unveiled the redesigned Gear VR headset, which now comes with a handheld controller for easier and more precise navigation and interactions. Previously, Gear VR users had to rely on head-tracking to navigate the VR experiences. Plus, the company is also reported to be secretly showing off standalone VR headsets that can operate without Samsung smartphones.

Similarly, LG also unveiled the VR headset prototype it has been working on with Valve, and the results are pretty much positively close to the HTC Vive – currently the gold standard in VR headset technology – if not better. Like the HTC Vive, the new LG VR headset uses Valve’s Lighthouse tracking technology to let you walk around a room, or uses its two controllers to reach out and grab things in virtual experiences.

Beyond the usual VR players, Korea Telecom offered up one of the more fun and innovative VR experience at the event. The carrier teamed up with K-pop band Twice to create a music video that doubles as a VR roller coaster ride. Attendees are strapped into a hamster-wheel-like device, which tumbled in tandem with the visuals to create an intense, full-body VR experience.

What Brands Need To Do

As virtual reality hardware continues to develop, the simulated experiences will only become more interactive and immersive, which opens up new opportunities for brands looking to engage their audience.

While many brands have dipped their toes into VR content, they often opt for the easier route of creating 360-degree videos viewable in VR headsets. In the past two months alone, we have seen brands like Ford, Häagen-Dazs, and Expedia to do just that. Moving forward, however, that will soon become inadequate, as the lack of interaction severely hampers the sense of immersion. To unlock the full power of VR experience, brands will have to move beyond simple 360-degree videos and work with VR content creators to build more sophisticated virtual experiences.

Retailers, for example, can create fun shopping-themed VR experiences to draw in customers. For entertainment brands, this could mean developing a short interactive VR experience to promote new releases or teaming up with game developers to feature some of your IPs in their works.


How We Can Help

Feeling a bit overwhelmed by all these latest trends in consumer tech? The Lab is here to help. We have extensive experience in building Alexa Skills and AI-powered chatbots to reach consumers on conversational interfaces. So much so that we’ve built a dedicated conversational practice called Dialogue. The “Miller Time” Alexa Skill we developed with Drizly for Miller Lite is a good example of how Dialogue can help brands build a conversational customer experience supercharged by our stack of technology partners with best-in-class solutions and an insights engine that extracts business intelligence from conversational data.

Additionally, if you want to learn more about how to employ AI beyond conversational interfaces or chat some more about the latest sleep tech boom, we have more strategic insights on these topics that we are happy to share and customize for your brand as well.

As for VR, our dedicated team of experts is here to guide marketers through the distribution landscape. We work closely with brands to develop sustainable VR content strategies to promote branded VR and 360 video content across various apps and platforms. With our proprietary technology stack powered by a combination of best-in-class VR partners and backed by the media fire-power of IPG Mediabrands, we offer customized solutions for distributing and measuring branded VR content that truly enhance brand messaging and contribute to the campaign objectives.

If you’d like to know how the Lab can help your brand figure out how to tap into these tech trends from the MWC to supercharge your brand with digital solutions, please contact our Client Services Director Samantha Holland (samantha@ipglab.com) to schedule a visit to the Lab.

For previous editions of Fast Forward, please visit ipglab.com. Please reply with any constructive criticism or feedback. We want these to be as useful as possible for you and your clients, and your input will help us immensely.

MWC 2017: Discovery Plans To Partner With Local Mobile Carriers For Olympics Content

What Happened
Discovery Communications is taking a mobile-centric approach to producing and localizing the Olympics content, which it owns the exclusive TV and multimedia rights to in 50 European markets. At a press event at the Mobile World Congress, the company revealed it is planning to team up with local mobile providers, who will serve as the official mobile broadcasters of the Summer and Winter Olympics games. Discovery believes this will enable it to provide viewers with the most relevant content and access a “personalized, direct link” with consumers. It also provides Discovery with more data on local interests and media habits, particularly on mobile, that can further inform its ad operations.

What Brands Need To Do
This is an interesting approach that many international brands can adopt to creating and distributing localized content at a global scale. The proliferation of mobile access has given rise to several global mega-channels, such as YouTube and Twitch, that can reach audiences worldwide in ways that traditional media channels can’t. They offer brands new platforms to reach global consumers, but brands still need to localize their messaging and content to engage with customers in each regional market. Therefore, whether for distributing owned content or advertisements, globally-minded brands need to choose partners who can leverage their scale and local expertise to effectively reach consumers.

 


Source:  AdWeek

MWC 2017: Coca-Cola Wants To Plug AI Into Ad Creation

What HappenedIn an AdWeek interview at the Mobile World Congress, Mariano Bosaz, global senior digital director of Coca-Cola, said that he’s partly in Barcelona to check out the latest development in artificial intelligence and see if it can help with ad creations. According to him, Coke is interested in using artificial intelligence to improve content, media, and commerce, especially in streamlining the ad creation process and experimenting with automated narratives.

What Brands Need To DoAs artificial intelligence technology continue to advance, more and more brands are starting to incorporate AI solutions into their marketing and business practices. In January, Toyota launched a campaign that is partially generated by IBM’s machine learning program Watson, and last month, H&R Block integrated Watson into its tax filing system to helping people maximize their tax returns. So it makes perfect sense that Coca-Cola would want to jump on the bandwagon as well. The kind of personalized user experience and product recommendations that AI can offer based on data and user input is valuable for brands. Therefore, brand marketers need to consider how they can use their customer data to provide personalized experiences with the help of an AI engine.

 


Source: AdWeek

MWC 2017: Line Introduces Conversational AI Assistant Clova

What Happened
Line, Japan’s leading messaging app with over 217 million users, is working with Naver, South Korea’s biggest internet portal, to launch an intelligent voice assistant service named Clova to serve the East Asian markets.

Line’s CEO Takeshi Idezawa took the stage at a press event at the Mobile World Congress today to announce its plan to launch Clova, which will be accessible via a mobile app, a smart speaker WAVE, and a smart display device FACE. The Clova app is set to launch in Japan and South Korea this spring, with WAVE coming out in early summer and WAVE launching later this year. The company plans to roll out Clova products in other core markets such as Thailand and Indonesia later this year as well.

Leveraging Naver’s search technology and data and combining it with Line’s own user data and communication technology, Clova will able to offer precise, personalized answers to user’s voice commands, adopting local languages, content, and services to better serve its users.

In addition, Line is also in talks with the several companies including Sony and LG to integrate Clova into more consumer gadgets and connected devices, such as a Sony connected headphone, LG connected home appliances, connected toys from Takara Tomy, and even a holographic home robot called Winkle Gatebox that will serve an anthropomorphic visual component for Clova.

What Brands Need To Do
During the keynote presentation, Idezawa acknowledged that the goal behind launching Clova is to bring artificial intelligence technology to consumer gadgets and smart home devices so as to establish Clova as a local competitor to Amazon’s Alexa and Google Assistant in the Asian markets. This major launch also marks another major tech player entering the battleground for consumer attention with a voice assistant service as non-mobile-centric digital interactions start to emerge and pull the focus off smartphones.

As this trend continues to develop, voice-based conversational services stand to quickly gain more ground in the next few years. Therefore, It is up to brands to start working with developers to figure out their brand voice and incorporate conversational tools into their marketing efforts. Even brands that won’t embed voice into their own product experiences should still look to capitalize on the opportunity by offering complementary services to add value.

How We Can Help
The Lab has extensive experience in building Alexa Skills and chatbots to reach consumers on conversational interfaces. So much so that we’ve built a dedicated conversational practice called Dialogue. The “Miller Time” Alexa Skill we developed with Drizly for Miller Lite is a good example of how Dialogue can help brands build a conversational customer experience, supercharged by our stack of technology partners with best-in-class solutions and an insights engine that extracts business intelligence from conversational data.

If you’d like to learn more about how to effectively reach consumers on conversational interfaces, or to leverage the Lab’s expertise to take on related client opportunities within the IPG Mediabrands, please contact our Client Services Director Samantha Holland (samantha@ipglab.com) to schedule a visit to the Lab.

 

MWC 2017: Alexa Coming To Motorola Handsets, Will Learn To Distinguish Voices

What Happened
Compared to its near omnipresence at this year’s CES, Alexa may appear to have a smaller presence at the Mobile World Congress, the global smartphone and mobile industry trade show unfolding in Barcelona this week. But that doesn’t mean Amazon’s virtual assistant service is taking a break either. Motorola, now owned by Chinese consumer electronic giant Lenovo, announced at a press conference on Sunday that it has struck a partnership with Amazon to embed Alexa service natively into most of Motorola’s devices in the future. But first, Moto says it will focus on developing an Alexa “Mod,” an attachable block for its Moto Z modular handset.

In related Alexa news, Amazon is reportedly working on a “Voice ID” feature that will enable Alexa to distinguish different voices and recognize which user is talking to it. If realized, this individual voice recognition feature would unleash some great new use cases of Alexa and the Echo devices it supports. For one thing, it should stop your Alexa from responding to her name being called in TV commercials. Moreover, this feature can be used to authenticate different users in a seamless way and therefore solidifying Echo’s position as a family living room device.

What Brands Need To Do
Expanding Alexa into more smartphones and multi-user usage shows Amazon’s determination in pushing its voice-activated assistant and bringing AI-powered interfaces to mainstream consumers. It is becoming more evident than ever that voice-based brand-customer interaction is something that brands have to explore and master.

According to a report from analytics firm VoiceLabs, about 33 million voice-first devices will be in circulation by the end of 2017. Therefore, It is up to brands to start working with developers to figure out their brand voice and incorporate conversational tools into their marketing efforts.

Even brands that won’t embed voice into their own product experiences should still look to capitalize on the opportunity by offering complementary services: recipes, wellness information, and lifestyle content are all popular uses for Alexa, and areas where brands can look to add value.

How We Can Help
The Lab has extensive experience in building Alexa Skills and chatbots to reach consumers on conversational interfaces. So much so that we’ve built a dedicated conversational practice called Dialogue. The “Miller Time” Alexa Skill we developed with Drizly for Miller Lite is a good example of how Dialogue can help brands build a conversational customer experience, supercharged by our stack of technology partners with best-in-class solutions and an insights engine that extracts business intelligence from conversational data.

If you’d like to learn more about how to effectively reach consumers on conversational interfaces, or to leverage the Lab’s expertise to take on related client opportunities within the IPG Mediabrands, please contact our Client Services Director Samantha Holland (samantha@ipglab.com) to schedule a visit to the Lab.

 


Source: TechCrunch & The Verge

 

MWC 2017: Olay Debuts AI-Powered Skin Adviser Platform

What Happened
P&G’s skincare brand Olay made their debut at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona earlier today to celebrate the global launch of its Olay Skin Advisor platform. Available via Olay’s mini-site, the web-based skin analytics platform leverages artificial intelligence and deep learning to provide skin analysis and personalized product recommendations delivered right on their mobile phones or tablets.

With just one selfie, Skin Advisor can analyze a woman’s face to determine her skin age and the main areas she needs to focus on. The platform will also prompt her to answer a short series of questions on personal skin concerns and product preferences before offering a personalized recommendation on suitable products and skincare regimen based on their needs and preferences.

The global launch of Olay Skin Advisor also means a series of upgrades to the platform in the United States, where a 1.0 beta version has been live since late 2016. The upgraded Olay Skin Advisor 2.0, will launch in the US in mid-March.

What Brands Need To Do
More and more beauty brands are incorporating mobile touchpoints into their customer journey. On the mobile AR front, L’Oreal’s Makeup Genius app and Covergirl’s BeautyU app are both good examples of how beauty brands can leverage the advanced capabilities of smartphones, especially the ease of image input via the phone’s camera, to provide extra utility for the customers. In addition, the kind of personalized user experience and product recommendations that AI can offer based on data and user input is also valuable for brands. Brand marketers need to consider how they can use their customer data to provide personalized experiences with the help of an AI engine.

How We Can Help
The Lab has extensive experience working with beauty brands to create and implement digitally enhanced retail experiences. The recently-opened NYX Cosmetics store at Union Square is a proud showcase of our team’s work in this space and elevated NYX as one of the most innovative digital beauty brands of 2016 named by WWD. If you’d like to learn more about how your brand can develop and implement digital-driven solutions to modernize your beauty retail experience, please contact our Client Services Director Samantha Holland (samantha@ipglab.com) to schedule a visit to the Lab.

 


Source: Business Wire

Header images are promotional image from Olay’s press release

 

MWC 2017: The AI-Powered, Connected Cars Of The Future

What Happened
Monday marks the first day of the 2017 Mobile World Congress (MWC), the world’s leading smartphone trade show. As with the previous years, a slew of new mobile and portable gadgets are introduced, and the Lab team is on the ground in Barcelona, Spain, scouting for the latest trend in mobile technologies. Today, however, it is the futuristic smart cars, not the shiny new phones, that stole the show.

Ford announced a partnership with Vodafone at its press event that will lead to 4G modems being built into a select range of its upcoming vehicles in the European market. The modem will bring 4G LTE connectivity over Wi-Fi, with up to ten devices able to connect at once, effectively turning those Ford models into a media hub on wheels.

Moving beyond connectivities for existing models, Roborace drew a lot of eyeballs at the Mobile World Congress today with a stunning self-driving race car. The British company behind the robot racing series unveiled Robocar, the world’s first AI-powered, self-driving electric race car. Powered by Nvidia’s Drive PX2, an open A.I. car computing platform, the Robocar can reach an impressive top speed of 199 miles per hour.

French automaker Peugeot took the AI solution one step further with the debut of its Instinct concept car, an autonomous car designed to drive differently according to reading your mood and needs. The car is connected to Samsung’s Artik cloud service, allowing it to gather data from other connected devices, such as your calendar schedule or your heartbeat rate from a smartwatch, in order to determine between four driving modes: drive boost, drive relax, autonomous soft, and autonomous sharp, to provide the most suitable driving experience.

What Brands Need To Do
In line with what we saw two month ago at this year’s CES, major advances in AI and machine learning has supercharged the race of developing autonomous cars among automakers this year. For brand marketers, AI is what will power the future of brand-customer interactions as the core of the post-smartphone computing. AI evolution is set to bring an influx of additional media time once self-driving cars can free our eyes from the road. While it is still a few years off till the technology fully matures, it is never too early for brands to start thinking about how to conquer this new media space.

Another important capability that AI will unleash for all brands lies in dynamic creatives that can deliver personalized user experience based on data and user input. Brand marketers need to consider how they can leverage their customer data to provide personalized experiences with the help of an AI engine.

 


Sources: as linked in the article

MWC 2017: Samsung Redesigns Gear VR And Reveals New Controller

What Happened
At a press conference hosted yesterday in Barcelona ahead of this year’s Mobile World Congress, Samsung announced some noteworthy news about its Gear VR headsets. The Korean mobile giant debuted a redesign of the Samsung Gear VR that not only makes it work better with existing Samsung handsets but also prepares it for the upcoming Galaxy S8 phones.

More importantly, the new Gear VR headset will also come with a new controller that includes touchpad and trigger, in addition to the motion sensors. Equipped with a touch-sensitive touchpad, the controller enables users to navigate the VR interfaces in a faster and more convenient manner. The control also comes with a trigger at the bottom for playing video games.

Besides the VR updates, Samsung also unveiled two new tablets and a new class of two-in-one laptop-tablet device.

What Brands Need To Do
Samsung Gear VR remains one of the most popular mobile platforms for virtual reality at the moment. And this refresh in headset design and new remote controller significantly improves the user-friendliness and adds to its interactivity.

As the hardware continues to develop, VR and 360-degree content is quickly emerging as a medium that brands should explore to attract consumer attention with innovative storytelling. In order to capitalize on the booming popularity of the immersive medium, brands should take a cue and start developing VR content that truly enhances brand messaging and contributes to the campaign objectives.

How We Can Help
Our dedicated team of VR experts is here to guide marketers through the distribution landscape. We work closely with brands to develop sustainable VR content strategies to promote branded VR and 360 video content across various apps and platforms. With our proprietary technology stack powered by a combination of best-in-class VR partners and backed by the media fire-power of IPG Mediabrands, we offer customized solutions for distributing and measuring branded VR content that truly enhance brand messaging and contribute to the campaign objectives.

If you’d like to learn more about how the Lab can help you tap into the immersive power of VR content to engage with customers, please contact our Client Services Director Samantha Holland (samantha@ipglab.com) to schedule a visit to the Lab.

 


Source: VR Focus