What 5G means for mobile marketing

After a busy few days for 5G announcements, Aaron McKee, CTO at Blis, considers what the fuss is all about, and what the implications of 5G are for mobile marketing.

Well, it’s been a busy week for mobile operators and handset makers. Seems like everyone is trying to shout loudest about 5G– from O2 detailing plans for its 2019 5G launch; Vodafone testing 5G on actual 5G smartphones; and Samsung announcing plans for 5G versions of its Galaxy Fold and S10 smartphones.

Clearly, big things are on the horizon for data and communications infrastructure. Governments across the globe are betting that 4G just won’t cut it in the Fourth Industrial Revolution. 5G is the next great leap forward in wireless data connections, pumping steroids into mobile phone communications. The new technology offers real advantages for digital marketing – but will marketers jump aboard before the 5G train leaves without them?
What’s the big deal?
Let’s not beat about the bush: 5G is a big deal. So much so that the government has launched a full 5G Strategy for the UK, setting out a vision for its adoption across the country. 5G technology will improve the speed and performance of wireless internet connections. It effectively turbo-charges the internet, allowing for seamless internet browsing on mobiles, cutting load times and stabilising connections.
Governments around the globe have recognised that 5G captures the essence of digital transformation, and are racing to upgrade their telecoms infrastructure. Countries such as the US, Germany, Qatar and South Korea are spearheading the push towards 5G, with trials and limited coverage already in place. Telecoms giants in the UK are jostling for position, with Vodafone and O2 taking on EE in the race to rollout 5G later this year.
Bountiful rewards for marketers
Faster internet speeds benefit business at large, facilitating more digital exchanges and transactions across a host of industries. Marketers and advertisers are among those who can share in the bountiful rewards of this new technology.
From a technical perspective, 5G will broadly drive down load times and lower latencies when consumers click on ads. Even though these are often less than two seconds today, 5G promises to knit brand experiences into web and in-app environments more delicately.
Better mobile infrastructure also means that rich formats and creative – including AR and VR – will become more mainstream. There is also greater potential to expand IoT applications, helping marketers connect the dots between mobiles and other smart devices, and understand their audiences more deeply.
But even more broadly, 5G means more browsing, scrolling and swiping. People will be able to consume more content, faster. More screen time means more opportunities to reach your audience – especially when they can access reliable, superfast connections through mobile data when they are out and about.
Saddle up for the 5G ride
The promise of this technology is clear for the advertising industry. But it won’t be smooth sailing unless marketers get into the right mindset to take full advantage of a future 5G bonanza. Rapid transformation brings challenges, and marketers should be aware of them.
A significant increase in the volume of web traffic will mean that ad exchanges will need to be able to handle many more bid requests. No matter how fast the internet connection, latency will remain a problem if programmatic providers aren’t able to process requests fast enough.
More traffic overall will lead to a growth in data available to marketers – a significant opportunity to improve targeting and personalisation. However, the market may well see a rise in poor-quality data, so marketers will need to ensure they have a trusted source of clean and high-quality data.
Among other forms of data, location will inevitably become more abundant, as users make the most of better mobile network speeds. This will provide marketers with a clearer picture of audience segments based on their behaviours, along with powering real-time optimisation to drive consumers into nearby shops. But marketers should be aware of working with providers who have sufficient expertise and a track record to deliver on the possibilities that will open up.
The 5G train hasn’t left the station just yet, but it’s set to depart soon. Marketing and advertising have everything to gain. Only by recognising its benefits and adapting beforehand can marketers belt up and enjoy a smooth ride, as we all continue to accelerate into the Fourth Industrial Revolution.