5G is coming – here’s what it means for marketers

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AT&T and Verizon have announced 5G-enabled smartphones with Samsung for 2019 – 5G is here. Where will the new super-fast mobile internet connectivity take us?

This week, both Verizon and AT&T have announced that they will launch 5G-enabled Samsung smartphones in 2019 – in fact, AT&T are launching two. 5G has been on the lips and the minds of the tech, communications and advertising industries for a while, promising as it does almost unimaginable opportunities. Earlier this year, AT&T launched its 5G mobile hotspot in a few cities across the US, but this week’s news makes it mainstream and a reality for consumers – and therefore marketers – across the world. So where will it lead?

Higher speeds and happier consumers

What makes 5G so revolutionary is its speed. 4G, which was launched in 2011, brought about video streaming, programmatic auctions and the first glimpses of augmented and virtual reality. 5G is 1000 times faster than 4G with 100 times less latency, effectively eliminating any delays. Often, if a consumer experiences a delay loading a webpage, they will give up, meaning the loss of a touchpoint for the brand. It could also lead to a decrease in the use of ad blockers, which consumers often use to avoid slow loading times; if webpages are loading more quickly, they may be less inclined to use them.

The sheer speed of 5G means that it will be a viable and affordable alternative to home broadband. In the US, Verizon is looking at disrupting home broadband, particularly in areas where there isn’t much competition for local broadband providers. As Gartner’s Mark Hung remarked, ‘if 5G is able to create more competition in that space, then that could lead to more cord-cutters’ – and that of course has implications for marketers.

Out of home will also benefit from the speed of 5G. A Digiday article relates how out of home advertising company Outfront plans to use 5G to distribute dynamic video to screens, which will be able to react to the viewers passing them.

Deeper interactions with consumers – which means more data

The increased speed of 5G compared to 4G means that technology applications which have hitherto seemed far-fetched are suddenly becoming realistic. These applications often provide much more immersive and meaningful experiences for consumers – and that means richer data sets for advertisers. Augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR), for example, will become more normal ways for brands to interact with their consumers. AdWeek suggests that home decor

brands could use immersive AR to show customers what an item of furniture would look like in their houses, while sports and music fans will be able to ‘attend’ games and gigs via their VR headsets; indeed, LiveNation and NextVR have already done this, and widespread 5G will only make the user experience better.

Meanwhile, increased speeds and higher connectivity will mean that the Internet of Things becomes exponentially more powerful and useful. Hyper-connected devices will communicate with one other, giving the consumer increased convenience and control over their lives in the context of autonomous cars, connected homes, connected cities, connected healthcare and so many others. These networks of connected devices will generate a wealth of data on the consumer’s behaviours and preferences: a veritable goldmine for brands, who will be able to create ever more personalised and targeted messaging.

Companies are already making plans to capitalise on the launch of 5G

Unsurprisingly, given the opportunities for deeper interactions with consumers, companies in the US and worldwide are already gearing up for the delivery of 5G. For example, AT&T recently acquired Time Warner and AppNexus in order to ensure it was properly positioned to take advantage of the roll-out of its 5G service. Meanwhile, esports company ESL has partnered with AT&T to incorporate 5G technology into live gaming, in order to take mobile esports ‘to the next level’.

5G may also have another effect. With telco companies coming into possession of such an unprecedented amount of consumer data, they may start being able to challenge the digital ad services duopoly currently held by Google and Facebook.

We’ve looked at only a few of the opportunities presented by the arrival of 5G; indeed, there are many that the world hasn’t even imagined yet. It will change the world perhaps even more fundamentally than 4G did, and make the seemingly fantastical – for both consumers and advertisers – a reality.

Thumbnail image: Shutterstock

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