The beauty of Barcelona and the MWC predictions that came true

At first, the situation wasn’t beautiful at all. Back in 2016, my visa application to Barcelona was almost not accepted by the Spanish Embassy.

When I didn’t get my visa a day (Friday) before my original flight schedule (Saturday), I submitted to the fact that I am not worthy of the privilege to see this beauty and the trust that EBC had given me.

What followed was the weekend where I prayed a million times begging for mercy and miracle to have my visa approved.

And on that Monday morning at the Spanish consulate, while my turn was number 6, my name was the very first name that was called as soon as the blinds behind the interview glass rose up!  I was dead sure that the officer was giving me a dressing down for bugging the consulate on a Friday (they work only half-day), but I just couldn’t remember anything that he said anymore.

All that was in my mind at that time was just, “hand me the visa, hand me the visa!”

MWC: THE mobile event in the world

The buzz on MWC16 or the Mobile World Congress was not hype. It was indeed, the mobile event in the world. 101,000 attendees from 204 countries. 2,200 exhibiting companies scattered across 110,000 net sqm of exhibition space. 3,600 international media and industry analysts.

Keynotes from CEOs, and senior execs from big names: AT&T, BT Group, BuzzFeed, China Mobile, Cisco, Digital Legends, Ericsson, ESL, Facebook, Ford Motor Company, GE Digital, Getty Images, Huawei, Intel Corporation, Jukedeck, Jukin Media, MasterCard, MERCEDES AMG Petronas Formula One team, Morpho (Safran), PayPal, Publicis Groupe, Qualcomm Incorporated, Roshan, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd., See.Sense, Stripe, SwiftKey, Telefónica, Telegram, Telenor, Turkcell, UNICEF, University of Manchester, Vodafone and WPP.

MWC16 had the world’s largest and most influential mobile operators, software companies, equipment providers, internet companies and companies from industry sectors such as automotive, finance and healthcare, as well as government delegations from across the globe.

A lot, if not all of these predictions, are now happening in the mobile world.

Content may still be king but distribution is the queen

Quoting Buzzfeed’s founder Jonah Peretti, the CEO of MIDiA Research Mark Mulligan aptly described the dynamics in the changing landscape for mobile media entertainment that includes the latest trends, forecasts, and analysis for the sector.

“In the new world, go where your audience is,” he stressed by citing that the consumers use various platforms including Snapchat, Facebook, Google, Messenger, Netflix, YouTube, among others.

Media, according to Mulligan, is “being disrupted like never before.” The disruptors include cord cutting by operators, ad blockers, streaming, free offerings, audience fragmentation and strategies implemented by major technology companies.

Mulligan cited smartphones as the key driver in the unprecedented acceleration in consumers’ adoption of new technologies.

BarcelonaIn the fight among the three biggest names in the digital world– namely, Facebook, Google and Apple — content according to Mulligan is both collateral damage and weaponry as the tech companies use various strategies and tactics to defend their own core businesses.

“The real growth of the global digital content revenue is coming from mobile apps and digital video,” Mulligan showed.

“Multi-tasking is the norm of audiences. Not only as they are fragmented in terms of demographics but they do a lot of things at the same time because their digital IQ is increasing at the same time, thanks to the apps, ” Mulligan said.

“Free is the language of the web. But people will pay, given the right choice at the right price,” Mulligan concluded. However, he warned that in the era of free, value exchange is crucial particularly when ad blockers do not allow making money anymore.

Mobile has changed TV, broadcast and film

The role of mobile networks is changing the future of TV, Broadcast and Film. This is the collective position of a distinguished set of experts from CNN, Verizon, Sky and Viacom at the track on “Mobile First: The Future of TV, Broadcast and Film.”

Barcelona“It’s getting the CNN product in whatever platform possible,” Rajin Persaud, CNN Next Generation Business & Product Strategy said.

“For us, we look at it as expanding the pie, it is completely additive.” Persaud stressed. With CNN’s experience with Apple TV as an example, he cited that “the numbers are phenomenal.

Persaud highlighted mobile’s importance by saying that “if you are actually taking the time to tune in to that and actively consume content, we think we are so much more engaged with the user. The thing that we should figure out as an organization is how to efficiently and effectively distribute content across all these different platforms,” he added.

For Sophie Garnham Head of Commercial Development at Sky, mobile networks mean new markets for their content. “It allows us to reach consumers who have a different requirement and has different demands. It gives us different routes to different needs,” she exclaimed.

“Younger audiences are going to mobile video,” Dan Reich announced. He is the Senior Vice President, Multiplatform Product Strategy & Development at Viacom International Media Networks.

“Nobody knows for sure what the winning business model is at this point in time so it is important for us to be in different places in whatever content, platform and type and as the business model evolves, I think we will benefit from that,” Reich justified.

Mobile: fuel to social video phenomenon

Top executives from leading brands that drive the growth of the digital age led by Google, YouTube, Twitter, Jukin Media and Gleam Futures acknowledge mobile as the primary platform that has been fuelling the social video phenomenon.

BarcelonaIn the “Social Video Phenomenon” track of the Mobile, Media, Innovation and Experience Summit Google Managing Director for Branding and Consumer Markets David Black said that “of the 100 top global brands, all of them advertised through YouTube for the last year. For brands, this is a real phenomenon.”

According to Black, consumers now have greater choices than before. He even cited that for millennials in the US, the top stars on YouTube are bigger to them than the stars of TV or Hollywood. “What is interesting is that the stars on the mainstream are now coming on to YouTube,” he added.

The amplification of brands through Youtube

“Innovation is thriving in YouTube and brands really are in the heart of that,” he said. Four out of the top 10 trending videos last year were brands videos. “There are paid media to amplify it, but the power of on-demand is driving the growth that’s seeing amazing results,” he explained.

With the phenomenal mobile growth, Black said that marketing is really about “how you reach the right audience with the right message at the right time.”

“When you are planning campaigns, think of the new meaning of www: what they want, when they want it, where they want it,” Black emphasized.

For brands to deliver the reach, impact, and results, Black suggested for brands to “run paid media effectively, take TV campaigns run more issue, build YouTube campaigns because it will deliver something that’s native to the platform, and then begin to collaborate with great content partners to deliver more sophisticated things.”

Twitter as a live connection to culture

BarcelonaFrom a text-based platform, Twitter has also made its big change to video. “Video consumption has grown by 200 times for the past 12 months,” Twitter Vice-President for Global Brands and Agencies Jean- Philippe Maheu said.

Maheu mentioned named the two biggest trends affecting users that have a major impact for brands. The first is the change in device connection from desktop to mobile, which accounts for 100% of the growth in digital time spent by consumers. The second biggest driver is video.

“Mobile video is the biggest focus of Twitter. It is a mobile video platform with a unique positioning in the marketplace. Twitter is your live connection to culture. When something happens in the world, it happens on Twitter. In many occasions, it drives culture and influences events,” Maheu explained.

He stressed that there are many movements around the world that happened in the past two years driven by Twitter.

According to Maheu, TV networks, to drive their profitability, are now looking at other platforms such as Twitter to augment and amplify their reach and success of content.

His past organization was looking at TV as the stimulus media, which is the media that creates the conversation. “But TV doesn’t generate the conversation, it just triggers it. The conversation happens on social platform or real life. Most these conversations are on Twitter and on Facebook,” he explained.

“The engagement you see on Twitter and Instagram is also enormous, but still the majority of those huge audiences that we’re getting on mobile is YouTube,” he said.

New way of storytelling

As the pace of innovation just keeps accelerating and gets better and better every time, YouTube suggested to “be where your audience is. Behaviour is changing fast. YouTube is now where the world comes to watch.”

BarcelonaTwitter, on the other hand, is “enabling the younger generation to think and create together. In the past, we have the makers and the thinkers. Today we have people that think and make things together. The ability to give these tools to the younger audience is fabulous.”

Mobile disruption brings a whole new digital ecosystem of story-telling. The way the world communicates right now is through mobile.

“We are very good at social but what we’re not good at is content”, Getty remembers Facebook and Instagram executives telling him, yet they want to keep you engaged in those platforms. “It is really why Mark Zuckerberg is building up more apps, buying Instagram and doing WhatsApp. In the same respect, he now knows that he gets to compete with the likes of Netflix and CNN or partner with them,” he added.

Five years ago, CNN does not pay attention to any user-generated content. “Today, every social media platform wants to step up on content and bring it to another level and the good thing is everything is on the mobile screen,” Bannon added.

New media ecosystem

Gone were the days when something happens in the world and there is an exact place that you can go to get the news like CNN. 35 years ago, CNN was really the only broadcaster of seismic moments in time and it could reach everyone.

With the digital world today, there’s “Snapchat Discover, Facebook instant articles, Google newsstand, Line, WeChat and all kinds of chats and experiences inside all of these messaging and social platforms. We call it off-channel, off-platform,” CNN Chief Product Officer Alex Wellen said.

Wellen admits that there are audiences who only engage on its brand on those social media platforms and will never come in contact with CNN otherwise.

With mobile changing everything, CNN worldwide is laser-focused on these two challenges: Looking at what a modern-day broadcaster looks like on multiple platforms and the personalization of its content.

“We need to be everywhere but everywhere means something different, particularly live broadcasting and news alerting. It has to be native. The content has to feel that it is created for that platform, ours or someone else’s. We owe it to you to intuit what you want. The technology combined with the editorial oversight should be able to deliver the stories that are relevant to you at that moment,” the CNN expert said.

“That is what mobile gives us, you are somewhere at some point in time, we may even know what you’re doing. We should be able to tell you when you get off the plane that there’s an issue in Barcelona about transportation,” Wellen added.

Augmented reality

“It is not only were there citizen journalists contributing, and reporters everywhere, but we have thousands of affiliates from around the world,” CNN’s Wellen boasts.

“We ask ourselves ‘what are the stories that we need to tell?’ The fun begins with how we wanted to tell those stories. It has to start with the stories. From there, it really brings technology and journalism together to create a product, and when those things work, it’s magic.

Wellen explains that CNN wants to use every resource at its fingertips and harness that, even if it means relying on to third parties. “To believe that you can do it all is probably wrong,” Wellen stressed.

CNN taps important technologies that bring the stories quickly to users. Wellen said that CNN has digital studios that have produced original programming on its website and apps. “Globally we are taking every single brand that we have, looking at whether it has that proper footprint and what it looks like across the globe, as opposed to US-centric or internationally-centric.”

For L’Oreal International in Paris, addressing the value exchange is to change how to start and end the story. Before, it was about their products and the how it is a great product development company.

Barcelona“With the new advent of digital, it is about personalization and the value that we are bringing over a lifetime of relationship with customers. It involves a tango, a dance where people are taking a conversation that is not endemic to our culture. The storytelling is changed based on the customer, first and foremost, “Esohe Omoruyi, VP for Digital Services and Innovation of L’Oreal International, Paris said.

The connection with the consumer is providing meaningful value to them. “Not just pushing an ad, not just expecting them to click and go to a defunct website but providing them a service that is an immediate response to a very simple need – how to draw a perfect cat eye or how to cover a blemish before a meeting or a date,” Omoruyi said.

L’Oreal has an augmented reality app that allows women to try the company’s entire product catalog that makes them explore the new look with confidence before buying. “And then they can buy with confidence knowing that what they’re buying is actually what they want,” she said.

Monetizing content

For David Chapon, Sony Global Director, Digital Channels, Customer Marketing Communication of Sony Mobile Communications, it is not only about content. It is about the experience. “Experiences can be anything from the content, downloading a movie, or participating in a contest to get into somewhere in the world,” Chapon said.

Barcelona“It could be anything from giving us access to tips and services on how you use and benefit more from your smartphone. From there, “we know that you are a sports fan or music fan so we can monitor and aggregate that content to feed that back into you for making your daily life easier, Chapon added.

The iStock platform owned by Getty Images has user-generated content and curated by its actual participants. “We are rewarding citizens by uploading content and finding a whole other revenue streams for iStock, Flicker and Instagram, We are finding ways to monetize real native content,” said the Getty expert.

Whether the next big thing is on wearables, VR, chatbox and voice recognition, the panelists all agreed: Change is going to happen, embrace it.

Content in Barcelona

There is so much content that can be featured in Barcelona with its rich culture, heritage and arts. There is so much vibrancy, youth, and energy.

BarcelonaThe chapel of the Iglesia Ni Cristo (Church of Christ) is one landmark that Filipinos can be proud of. It is a gem in Europe. It is extremely exhilarating that in the middle of culture, arts, innovation, and architecture is a global church emanating from the Philippines.

There is so much activity and energy in Barcelona and the focus on knowledge and technology is so engrossing that you will not notice time pass by.

I still cannot fathom how historical heritage comes alive along with avant-garde styles. Tradition co-exists with innovation. I am officially a Barcelover!

An Emirates Temptation

At the airport gate, an Emirates lady approached me and asked if I was traveling alone.

When I said yes, she ushered me to a separate check-in counter.

“We are overbooked and you are selected to avail of our offer,” the other beautiful Catalonian lady said.

“What’s the offer?”, I replied.

Free hotel accommodation for the night as we will book your flight to Manila the following day. Transportation to and from the airport will be provided and…

She paused to make sure I heard her:

“…a FREE round trip ticket to any country in Europe of your choice.” A round-trip ticket to Europe including Paris and Germany.

I was tempted to the point that I already placed my luggage for check-in.

But after a careful thought, I had to turn it down.

I terribly missed my family back home and we had to attend the Sunday worship together.

While the beauty of Europe is fleetingly tempting, the joy of reuniting with a beautiful family is forever.

NOTE:  No words are enough to express my heartfelt gratitude to the EBC Chair and most especially to Sir EVM for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.