Mobile World Congress 2016
Sir Martin Sorrell: Companies Are Still Figuring Out Mobile

On Wednesday, the 2nd keynote of the day at Mobile World Congress was titled “Mobile is Commerce”. There are few better suited to talk about the intersection of those two things than WPP CEO Sir Martin Sorrell. He wasn’t on the stage for long, but had much to say about how marketers have faired in the mobile space.

If a quarter of consumer time spend is centered around mobile, why is marketing investment in it so low, at just 6%? Sorrell believes that part of it is because, according to him, the mobile revolution has not quite registered yet with some large companies. “Big companies are not thinking about mobile in the right way,” he said. They’re thinking of it as an avenue to reach consumers, an extension of their overall existing digital strategies, rather than about how it has and will continue to fundamentally change their businesses.

Part of the reason that mobile marketing spend is relatively low is because of the continuing opacity of ROI. He placed the onus on the Facebooks and Googles of the world to do their part in fostering accurate and independent measurement. “New media owners are going to have to spend more and more time on how they’re going to define ROI,” he said. “The only way we can get a better answer is through measurement.” Another issue Sorrell mentioned was ad-blocking software, but he said their rise is in part because marketers “haven’t contextualized [mobile] yet.” And this need will be increasing ever more, given companies’ growing reliance on data and content.

Naturally, Sorrell wouldn’t end the session without remarking specifically on the impact this all has on agencies:

“The agency business used to be defined by talent and price,” he said. “That will continue to be the case, but it is now defined increasingly by technology. It’s the coming together of those 3 things that will critically define agencies.”

Break the walls down
Prior to Sorrell taking the stage, Patrick Collison, Co-Founder and CEO of online payments company Stripe began the keynote by unveiling Stripe Atlas, a product Collison said will make it easier for entrepreneurs around the world to start their companies. Collison noted that there needs to be a more even playing field for startups in emerging markets. Registering in these places can be incredibly expensive, time consuming, and restrictive. Stripe Atlas will help entrepreneurs create US bank accounts, connect them with expert legal and and tax advice, and provide them with a Stripe account to accept payments from customers anywhere in the world. Collison hopes that by eliminating a lot of the cost and red tape of registering a business around the world, Stripe can help accelerate the growth of the worldwide economy.

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