Here's a Constitution for Mobile World Congress

The Industry Needs a Platform to Create a Better Future for Mobile

By Published on .

Preamble: As delegates from around the planet convene at Mobile World Congress this week in Barcelona, we the people must raise our voices in support of a platform that will create a better future for citizens, marketers, technologists and publishers.

Article I: Promote consumerism on-demand. Consumers' expectations are rising so fast that two-day shipping feels like an eternity. Accessibility will shape product preferences. If someone's favorite brand must be shipped from across the country but a lesser alternative can be delivered within the hour, the inferior brand will increasingly win. The nature of immediacy further shapes how mobile devices are extensions of ourselves; the transaction may start on a mobile device, but it ends by people directly receiving what they requested.

Article II: The best part of the "internet of things" is its immobility. So much of what consumers will love about smart devices will be how they operate in the background, without any human involvement after the initial setup. These devices, largely stationary, will respond to various triggers such as a person's presence, the local weather, media being played, the time of day, and one's schedule. Other inputs will include variables such as whether one is running out of a preferred product at home or whether there are sudden changes in the environment (for instance, a crowd entering a room may trigger music to play louder and the temperature to drop). The more invisible such connected devices become and the less work they are to manage, the more they'll become indispensable.

Article III: Down with orientation exceptionalism. People will hold their phones however they please, whether to consume or create content. The people are overwhelmingly getting used to this idea. Creatives have to accept that their content will often be viewed with black bars around the edges, or cropped to fill the screen. Beautifully shot video may be further obscured by captions appearing on the bottom when the sound is muted. Fear not, though; even with such deficiencies, there will still be enough creative awards to go around.

Article IV: The pursuit of happiness conflicts with the pursuit of appiness. Walled gardens that limit choice force consumers into uncomfortable compromises, and consumers will constantly look for ways to jump over those walls.

Article V: We are all first-screening. "Second-screening" has always been an outdated term, as a mobile device is always the first screen that people pay attention to.

Article VI: This is a location convocation. We must strive for a future where no one references "location-based advertising," as all mobile delivery of advertising and content should factor in an individual's location. In part, this is because location data is typically among the most readily available to marketers. Yet location is also paramount to consumers. The mere fact that someone is at home or at work or at a store or a restaurant is of utmost interest to him or her, and it is going to impact so many facets of his or her behavior. More accurate location data leads to better relevance for consumers.

Article VII: Let's make mobile social great again. Mobile messaging is the new portal, and it is both a gateway and a destination. In the near term, audiences spending time messaging are among the hardest to reach. As more opportunities arise to reach them, new metrics will be needed, and marketers will have another learning curve to determine what's effective.

Article VIII: The ad blocking stops here. While ad blockers threatened to become marketers' Kryptonite last year, mobile's rise blunts the threat, as ad blockers only affect mobile web usage rather than app usage.

Article IX: Mobile will get people back to work, until it reshapes the nature of what work is. In the near term, mobile is creating some form of work for potentially millions of agents in cars, on foot, in stores, and manning chat apps. We must all be aware that practically every single such job could fall prey to automation. When much of the workforce can be replaced by algorithms, this Congress should acknowledge the ramifications and explore how to minimize adverse societal effects.

Article X: Nominate device presidents. Lest we forget, there will be new mobile handsets debuting at this Congress. They will be everything people want in new devices -- thinner or heftier, taller or tinier, blacker or whiter. They will be the conduits for keeping the mobile dream alive.

Article XI: Everything is mobile. Mobile devices now serve as car keys and hotel room keys; credit cards and loyalty cards; entertainment consoles and sleep aids; security monitors for one's home and trackers for one's children; sensors that detect food allergens and video links to doctors who can diagnose conditions; the gateway to staying current on celebrity gossip and family news. If some industry or product category hasn't been transformed by this mobile world yet, it is only an infinitesimal matter of time.

Postscript: There are no caucuses. Every tap, swipe and alert is a vote that shapes the future of mobility. We must listen to our billions of constituents, but at this Congress, our first responsibility is to listen to and learn from each other.

All in favor, say "aye."

Most Popular
In this article: