A central topic at CES (the US based consumer tech event) last month — and undoubtedly the next frontier for digital advertising — is the arrival of 5G. It should be cause for marketers to celebrate because it will enable faster bandwidth, near-zero latency and, in turn, deliver more immersive, higher-resolution, premium experiences that will help brands better connect with (and not frustrate) consumers.
Once 5G arrives at scale, it will mean new opportunities for advertising and, as a result, traditional display advertising will potentially become less relevant.
But where are we as an industry with actual implementation and are we ready to harness all of its promise?
Where We Are Today with 5G
In 2018, 5G was rolled out in a small number of Asian markets — in South Korea for instance, telecom operator KT has been broadcasting TV content on consumers’ mobile devices and set-top boxes via 5G in the metropolitan area of Seoul. Similarly in Qatar, operators Vodafone and Ooredoo have already made 5G services commercially available across the country.
US telecom operators started following suit by 2019, with Verizon, T-Mobile and AT&T implementing 5G in a few test cities including Los Angeles, Sacramento and Houston. With that said, 5G is not expected to start replacing 4G in the United States until 2020.
Until then — dare to dream...
1) Promise of AR and VR Realised
According to Business Insider, in 2018 there were around 171 million AR/VR active users in the world and the market is expected to become a $162 billion industry by 2020. 5G will be better equipped to handle this real-time exchange of video files which opens up great opportunities for advertisers who become early adopters. The gaming industry, of course, has been the first industry to adopt VR and AR, but others like travel and e-commerce companies, as well as publishers and social media platforms, should already be considering ways to leverage these technologies to create more immersive advertising experiences. 5G will be even further enhanced by the use of haptic technology and haptic suits which recreate the sense of touch by applying forces, vibrations, or motions to the user.
2) New Media Frontiers
With 5G, brands should be able to tap into much-hyped new media such as self-driving car entertainment or real-time 3D holographic displays. Americans spend on average 293 hours per year driving, according to AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, which until now has been an elusive customer touchpoint for advertisers other than through billboards or radio ads. Self-driving cars will completely change the game. If the hype does eventually pan out, over-the-top media service companies will start extending their home entertainment packages to car entertainment as well. Advertisers will need to find a way to penetrate into these new contexts.
As for 3D holographic displays, these will also enhance advertising live experiences in incredible ways. Can you imagine Yankee Stadium with no banners or flashy screens, but instead 3D Pepsi and Red Bulls flying around during the game? 3D holographic displays are all set to bring in a cumulative $43bn in the next 10 years according to a 2018 report by Ovum.
3) Less Need for Ad Blocking
With better ad experiences via 5G, we may actually see a decline in ad blocking. In the US last year, five percent of mobile sessions were blocked, up from two percent in 2016 , but we may be able to slow down this trend if 5G lives up to its expectations and eliminates slow page loads due to bloated ads.
4) “Black Mirror” Level Measurement?
There has been talk of real-time dynamic measurement of ad effectiveness through eye tracking and face biometrics to see how a viewer reacts to an ad in real-time. Advertisers might be able to track viewer engagement though eye movement or facial expressions. Creepy much? No doubt. But if there’s an opt-in feature that rewards consenting users, it could be a game changer.
5) Off-the-Charts Location Data Accuracy
We should expect extremely accurate location targeting with 5G, enabling real proximity advertising which today is still a nascent field. Today, 4G data can only really support aggregated movement or real-time transportation analytics use cases, which is why advertisers haven’t been getting the expected results. 5G will bring real-time, super accurate location data that will open doors to high-performance local and proximity marketing.
There’s also a good chance it will help prevent abuse in proximity targeting in which hacking is a real threat. Bad actors have been known to fraudulently suction up huge volumes of reward points by forging GPS data of visits to stores, for example. According to ZDNET, 5G's reliance on microcells could provide a secondary means of verification to protect against GPS spoofing.
6) Media Consumption Explosion
The Ovum report also showed that the average monthly traffic per 5G subscriber will grow from 11.7GB in 2019 to 84.4GB per month in 2028, at which point video will account for 90% of all 5G traffic. Time spent on video, music and games on mobile should experience major increases as 5G will lower the cost of internet packages and telecom operators will start offering unlimited data packages for an affordable price. This trend will give advertisers more opportunities to deeply connect with customers.
5G is coming. Marketers and advertisers should start planning now and imagine big. As leading British 5G expert Adrian Braine recently said, “I think 5G is at least as significant and potentially more so than the internet.”
Interested in the content and want to find out more? Get in touch with Daniel Heer.