Artificial Intelligence is the most important general purpose of our era. Its techniques are set to power significant technological advancements and impact every industry. As we've seen from Mobile World Congress this year, that impact is being felt across the mobile industry. From improving infrastructure, to hardware and software development.
Riding the 5G wave
As the industry prepares for the age of 5G and a seamless, fast and ubiquitous internet connection, those responsible for mobile data infrastructure are rapidly deploying AI techniques, such as predictive analytics and machine learning, to improve network efficiency by accurately predicting demand and improving customer service via chatbot deployment. Ericsson’s 5G Transformer Project is an end-to-end transformation of its entire pipeline, and Cisco is working with Vodafone in Ireland to predict network patterns; ensuring the pipes are working properly is big business.
So where does that leave us? In a world where we’re increasingly talking about speed as the new premium – thanks to Accelerated Mobile Pages, instant articles and the impact of site load speed on search ranking – the best ad experience is now predicated on quick, light, uncomplicated ads. Will the increased bandwidth and reduced latency of 5G see this trend reversed? One thing is for certain: video on mobile will continue to grow. Understanding the blend of connections it is delivered on will be stimulating, but also crucial in helping us create better, more targeted ads.
Our visual future
The camera continues to become the anchor for device hardware. Although, we probably shouldn't say camera; visual sensor is closer to the language the industry uses. These sensors are the gateway to a host of smart products and services that are set to slowly, but fundamentally, change the way we use our phones. Images and voice are set to reduce our reliance on touch and text input. Two of the most celebrated features of the new Samsung S9, launched on the eve of MWC this week – facial recognition and language translation – rely on the image sensors. We will increasingly be using our 'cameras' to give us information.
Tapping into this behaviour is going to present both an opportunity and challenge for brands. Similar to voice-activated assistants, the challenge is understanding how your brand can add value to what are largely utilitarian services. The opportunity, if you get it right, is entirely new creative canvasses to tell your story. Oath has spotted this and launched its first AR ad format, another coup at MWC. The full-screen native unit no doubt takes its cues from Snapchat, however, it's the potential to scale it across the open web that makes it interesting. With 5G coming, the experience should be seamless.
The truth is that AI has powered our mobile services and apps for years, from news feed and search algorithms to recommendation engines and maps. But we’re now in an era where AI techniques are both optimising our experience in the background and leveraging hardware improvements in the foreground to nudge our behaviour in a new direction.
As Alex Chung, chief technology officer of Baidu Search, pointed out on Tuesday at MWC, we’re each interacting with dozens of mobile services every day. It will be AI that’s the key to brands and advertisers connecting us in new and powerful ways.
Jess Roberts is chief client development officer at OMD UK