What Does 4G Mean for Retailers, Publishers, Ad Networks and Agencies?

As 4G in the UK becomes more widely available, with todays simultaneous launches from O2 and Vodafone, we reached out to a few representatives from four corners of the industry – eBay, The Telegraph, Millennial Media and Fetch – for their views. 

What will more widespread access to 4G mean for their business? How will it affect the industry as a whole? And how do they think consumers will react? Youll find the answers to those questions and many more below.

The Publishers View

Mark Challinor, director of mobile platforms at Telegraph Media Group

“4G should begin to enable a truly, fully-connected world where nearly all of our digital devices are better integrated into general life,” says Challinor. “For newspapers, our readers will be able to access our content on the go more easily with far superior, faster user experiences. In addition, theyll be able to get the best from mobile devices and apps that deliver optimal performance on 4G networks. 

“In turn, this should allow media companies to become more creative in their approach to advertiser and reader offerings and ultimately lead to greater revenues.”

And looking beyond the UK? “I am about to present a speech in Guatemala, where home broadband connections are currently at just 26 per cent,” he says. “For newspapers companies in such nations where access to fixed-line broadband is limited, 4G will bring high-speed connectivity for the first time and help businesses and consumers in all walks of life, not just newspapers.”

The Ad Networks View

Gavin Stirrat, managing director, EMEA at Millennial Media

“The introduction of faster network speeds is great news for both consumers and brand advertisers,” says Stirrat. “As mobile network speeds increase, it is possible for advertisers to deliver richer, more immersive brand experiences that push the limits of whats currently possible in mobile advertising. From a technical perspective, the faster a mobile device can pass data between servers, including mobile advertising platforms, the quicker tracking or conversion events can be recorded. This will mitigate against ad-serving discrepancies, which are a known and oft-reported issue in both mobile and online marketing.

“Many commentators are already likening the advent of 4G in the UK to the introduction of widespread broadband services in online. In 2007, when broadband penetration exceeded 50 per cent of the UK population for the first time, there was an explosion in online advertising and retail. Removing latency from a consumer experience is a powerful motivator, which people wholeheartedly embrace. It will be very exciting to see the developments in mobile advertising over the next few years as we work towards a similar tipping point for mobile data speeds.”

The Agencys View

Julian Smith, head of strategy & innovation at Fetch 

“Greater capacity for multimedia content delivery to the handset will likely mean that we are able to design and develop more rich media and audiovisual-based mobile display advertising creative for our clients,” says Smith. “As consumers stream more audio and video content on-the-go, the need to create in-stream ad units – think radio and TV commercials – will grow. This expanding opportunity for richer mobile media creative assets might also entice more traditional brand-building advertisers to invest more in the channel, thus helping us broaden our client base beyond the early-adopter mCommerce players.”

“Combined with ever-more sophisticated smartphones and tablets, high speed connectivity will mean mobile consumers experience more multi-media through their handset – whether on the web or via apps – than ever before. This will open up the creative canvas for brand communications and content, as broadband did for the internet.”

What about consumers? Are they ready to embrace 4G – and to pay more for it? “I think the appetite is there – especially among heavy users of mobile data. The big app downloaders, the mobile social networkers, the mobile video viewers and the business travellers will have all experienced the frustration of slow connectivity and will welcome improvements to the service. 

“It will really depend if the price is right. The speed of adoption will be dictated by the attractiveness of the tariffs on offer from the providers, and from today, it’s going to be a competitive marketplace.”

The Retailers View

Olivier Ropas, eBays senior director of mobile commerce, Europe

“Looking back, the move to 3G from 2.5G was a significant advancement for consumers and retailers alike,” says Ropas. “For the first time, higher data transmission speeds meant we could use our phones in a more data-friendly way. From streaming audio and video files, to browsing mobile enhanced web portals and apps – it was a move that immediately brought consumers and retailers closer together.

“At eBay, we see the move to 4G as just as vital. The new 4G network will allow faster speeds, giving rapid access to enabled websites for consumers; retailers will be able to use richer content to enhance the shopping experience. Improved network coverage will enable advanced connectivity, allowing more access to the net from a broader breadth of locations and improved reliability of the network will mean less interruption for shoppers.

“Consumers today want convenience and speed. The arrival of universal 4G won’t just turbo-charge the way we shop, it will truly give us the ability to shop anytime, anywhere – and that means an extra £1.8bn of consumer spending up for grabs.

“The biggest barrier for retailers is embracing technology. From inspiration to purchase, technology plays an integral role, creating a new consumer experience. It’s why smart retailers are innovating, embracing mobile and other technologies as a way to deeply engage their consumers.”