The Future Is 5G: How New Mobile Tech Will Take Advertising into the 5th Generation


5G, the next generation of mobile internet connectivity, promises to open up a plethora of new avenues and opportunities to advertisers. Despite recent negative publicity revolving around concerns such as national security and 'deceptive' practices being employed by current 4G providers, there is no doubt that the promise of 20x faster mobile internet speeds is an enticing one for consumers and advertisers alike. Writing for ExchangeWire, Gavin Stirrat (pictured below), VP of partner services at OpenX, discusses how 5G will transform advertising and what marketers can do to prepare upon rollout.

Mobile is now the leading way to buy programmatic advertising, making up 80% of all spend.

While those figures mean mobile is mainstream, that doesn't mean the space isn't changing. We're actually approaching a tech evolution that could fundamentally shake up mobile as we know it today.

It’s at this juncture that the fifth generation of mobile internet – or 5G – is set to make an entrance. It may still sound futuristic, but the buzz is very much building. A rollout is anticipated later this year, and super-fast mobile technology is sure to play a role in how digital advertising evolves.

With that in mind, in order to fully embrace 5G when it lands, advertisers and marketers should be using the run-up to prepare. There are a number of things to consider ahead of the launch of 5G:

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Gavin Stirrat

Gavin Stirrat, VP of Partner Services, OpenX

Over the past few years, an avalanche of exciting new technologies and formats have hit the market – from AR and VR, to advanced 3D modelling – but these have often been met with very little uptake from advertisers, mostly due to issues relating to speed.

However, with 5G set to upturn how advertisers think about creative, users’ experience of these engaging formats could all be about to change.

5G could boost device speeds twenty-two fold from 45Mbps, up to a maximum of one gigabit. That means response times of a couple of milliseconds, and absolutely minimal latency, even in much more demanding rich-media formats. That opens the door for exciting, buffer-free content and much more space for new tech – whether that’s more and better video content creation, or deeper exploration of augmented and virtual reality. Who knows – it could even open the door to new formats that don’t exist yet.

That’s exciting for advertisers and consumers alike. In a 5G world, consumer enjoyment of advertising could rocket, just like their expectations of advertising in the future. That leaves nowhere to hide for clunky, backward ads.

Reach across channels

5G won’t just help with ad creative – it’ll also help advertisers better reach audiences, creating a growing swatch of channels available to advertisers to connect directly with consumers.

A lack of connectivity and sluggish speeds have previously limited the extent of targeting across devices – and a knock-on effect was no doubt the rather glacial pace of IoT adoption in recent years.

But cloud-based processing enabled by 5G networks will boost speeds and connectivity massively, pushing IoT past its break-even point. Mobile networks will move from the back of the pack in speed terms to right at the front, way ahead of traditional wired connections. After all, what’s the point in driving a Ferrari at 20 miles an hour?

Because 5G boasts much faster connection speeds, it allows devices to offload processing into the cloud. In doing so, power-hungry processors will no longer drain device batteries, meaning that more devices (particularly remote, inaccessible, or mobile devices) will become connected.

And, beyond just bettering existing devices, faster speeds and improved connectivity will open the door for a panoply of new ones. That means connected fridges, cars, DOOH displays – you name it. With 5G, anything can become a channel to reach consumers.

Unlocking identity

But remember, the interaction between brand and consumer should be a dialogue, not a lecture. Of course, more touchpoints for advertisers mean more opportunities to speak to consumers – but advertisers should view this as an opportunity to learn and to piece together new and existing information about their consumers.

Perhaps the largest impact 5G will have is on the quantity and quality of data circulating around the ecosystem which, with appropriate permissions, will be usable by advertisers to better target more scalable audiences than ever before. That’s a fantastic opportunity to look at audiences in a much more detailed and granular way.

But to really harness all that new data flying around, it’s crucial to make sure all these various points are connected and used in the optimal way – that means the right infrastructure, the right technology partners, and the right kind of privacy measures. So, in the run-up to '5G Day', marketers should make sure they’re having conversations with all the various stakeholders to adopt processes that allow them to be able to use that valuable data in a privacy-by-design way.

Next steps

5G will transform a range of sectors; and advertising won’t be left behind. It’s going to make waves that will revolutionise ad creative, targeting, customer profiling, and no doubt much more. But to really maximise the benefits, we’ll need to hit the ground running when it comes.

So, a few avenues to pursue during your preparations. What would you create if speed and latency were no longer an issue? What could a raft of new connected devices bring to your strategy? And, perhaps most crucially, are you ready for those new devices and lightning-fast speed?

You can’t push 5G technology and top-of-the-line creatives on an old school 4G platform, so the likelihood is you’ll need to make some changes. Good planning now means great performance later – and if you can get your house in order, chances are, you’ll be ready to take full advantage of 5G starting day one.