Earlier this month, 60,000 people gathered in Barcelona to visit the 1,400 exhibitors from across the global mobile eco-system at Mobile World Congress. As proof of the continued worldwide growth of mobile marketing, one of the main themes of the show this year was mobile marketing and advertising, with a number of seminars and keynotes focused on topics such as integrating mobile into broader advertising campaigns, the effectiveness of multimedia mobile advertising and personalisation and privacy.

Despite the fact that the show is very technology driven, with high emphasis on tablets and smartphones, there was also a growing sense of the developing 'consumer centric' world; all consumers are mobile consumers. The future is irreversibly mobile and its acceleration is down to consumers using their mobiles as a fundamental accessory in their lives - both work and play - and taking control of their interactions with the brands and organizations around them. This new world of consumer centric engagement can and will deliver value to brands and marketers, but it requires a new way of thinking.

Internet-based services enabled marketers to deliver messages based on what people were looking for and deliver relevant results. As the most personal mass media channel available, mobile takes this to the next level. Using opt-in methods, brands and marketers can reach individuals, get to know them and understand where they come from as never before. But the key differentiator will be the fact that the mobile device is with the consumer almost 24 hours a day, wherever they are - providing marketers with access to valuable information such as location. As such, it is vital for brands to consider their interactions with target consumers based on contextual relevance - delivering messages at the right time, in the right location and with the most amount of relevance to end users based on their current interests or needs.

The presence of companies providing opt-in services for operators such as those from MMA members, Alcatel Lucent, Ericsson, Gemalto and Out There Media highlighted the growth of permission marking. Add that to more consumer facing services from Facebook Places, GroupOn and FourSquare and we can see a trend towards consumers being willing to share personal data on location, demographic or preferences if there is some value exchange - particularly if that value is utility-based.

It is important for marketers to respect the decisions of consumers when it comes to the way they choose to interact with brands via their mobile devices. While people may tolerate spam on their email, they wouldn't tolerate it on their mobile devices. If brands can balance the three Ps of mobile marketing - Permission (the individual's decision on what they see/receive/engage with), Privacy (the individual's decision on where their data is and how it is used) and Preference (the individual's decision on what content they find relevant) then they will find that there is a world of opportunity awaiting them in contextually relevant mobile marketing.