8 Stats That Sum Up What We Learned at Mobile World Congress

Including Pokemon Go, AI, VR and connected cars

This year's Mobile World Congress attendance was up 7% from 100,000 in 2016.
GSMA

BARCELONA, Spain—More than 108,000 people descended on Barcelona this week for Mobile World Congress, which wrapped up today. Here are eight stats that grabbed our attention.

1. Pokemon Go is far from dead
During the conference’s keynote with Ninantic CEO John Hanke, the company behind the game, it was revealed that the app has driven more than 500 million visits to 35,000 sponsored IRL locations.

Moreover, users have walked more than 8.7 billion kilometers and caught 88 billion Pokemon characters. Suffice it to say that the momentum behind the augmented reality app is still going.

2. WPP hearts Snapchat
Snap Inc. started trading on Thursday morning at $24 a share, up 41 percent from its expected $17 a share.

While the app will face a number of challenges before living up to investors and marketers’ expectations, WPP chief Martin Sorrell for one is bullish on Snap’s ability to take on Facebook and Google.

In his Mobile World Congress keynote, Sorrell thinks Snap “could well be the third force” for advertisers, after Facebook and Google.

Snap still has a long ways to get there though. In 2016, WPP spent $90 million on Snapchat ads, $5 billion with Google and $1.7 billion on Facebook advertising. While Sorrell wouldn’t disclose how much he expects the holding company to spend with Snap this year, he expects to spend $6 billion with Google, while Facebook spend grows to $2.5 billion.

3. Video news feeds
Speaking of Facebook, unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past few years, you know that videos are increasingly taking over news feeds and are taking priority over text posts.

But Rob Newlan, regional director of Facebook’s Creative Shop for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, argued that video is still undervalued by brands and agencies.

That’s surely going to change in the next few years though: Newlan also cited Facebook research that 75 percent of mobile data will be video-based by 2020.

4. Google wins at low-price VR
Google’s View VR headset is only a few months old, but an exec told attendees at this week’s conference that the company plans to sell tens of millions of its VR-enabled phones this year.

Meanwhile, vp of business and operations for Google’s VR unit, Amit Singh, said that the company has sold 10 million of its inexpensive Google Cardboard headsets. The accompanying Google Cardboard app has been downloaded 160 million times.

5. AI catches brands’ eye
Coca-Cola’s global senior digital director, Mariano Bosaz, told Adweek that he’s looking for ways to use bots and AI to create music and copy for the brand’s ads.

And indeed AI has been a big theme at Mobile World Congress. IBM’s supercomputer Watson, for example, is being used by 6,000 clients, including brands like Whirlpool and Hilton.

6. Automakers talk connected car data
A number of automakers including BMW, Volkswagen and Ford spoke about their ongoing efforts with connected cars this week.

And they’re leaning on consumer data to fine-tune their approach. BMW’s svp of digital business models Dieter May said that of the 2 million connected cars created a year, 20 percent of users opt-in to give the brand feedback about their experience.

7. Millennials are ditching cars
During the same session, Uber’s head of product for maps said that 10 percent of its millennial riders have ditched owning a car for good, making it that much harder for automakers to promote all kinds of new bells and whistles to younger consumers at a ripe age for buying a car.

8. Soccer fans are global and crazy for social
During a panel about sports and technology, Rafael de Los Santos, new media director for Real Madrid C.F., said the bulk of the soccer franchise’s social following is outside of Spain.

Across Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, the brand has roughly 147 million fans and less than 3 percent of them are located in Spain, he said.