How 5G Will Change the Marketing Landscape

Super-fast wireless service brings abundant possibilities for marketers

You’ve probably heard about the arrival of 5G wireless service and wondered what the big deal is. Is 5G really all that different than the current 4G standard?

The fact is that 5G not only presents a quantum leap in data transmission speeds over 4G but is also a platform that will likely transform the way marketers approach messaging and touch points with their audiences.

What exactly is 5G?
First of all, the term “5G” stands for the fifth generation of cellular wireless service developed to allow the transmission of data through radio waves. Each generation’s technology has represented a significant increase in data speed transmission over the previous one. Data speeds with the current 4G standard can reach a theoretical 100 Mbps (Megabits per second).

While that has enabled the proliferation of video and audio content in many marketing applications, it cannot easily handle the demands of emerging media formats—such as virtual reality and augmented reality—that provide the rich and immersive experiences consumers crave. These platforms can be accommodated by 5G technology, which delivers data rates of up to 10 Gbps (Gigabits per second), or approximately 100 times faster than 4G LTE.

What this means in common terms
In addition to providing the foundation for new media, 5G enables jaw-dropping performance with existing media. With 4G, downloading a 2-hour movie takes approximately 6 minutes; with 5G, it takes less than 4 seconds. At these speeds, 5G easily outpaces current home cable internet connections.

A new level of marketing experiences
Not only will 5G make cable connections redundant (cable and ISP fixed wire infrastructure will no longer have any speed advantage) but it would also

bring an explosion of new opportunities for marketing messaging and engagement. Any surface that has a 5G wireless transceiver could serve as a high-res screen and be able to quickly and seamlessly share content with other 5G devices. Augmented reality environments would become super-immersive and more accessible than ever with overlays of high-quality interactive imagery on store windows, walls, floors, car dashboards, etc. Marketers could provide customers and prospects with branded AR environments that deliver their own augmented reality layers, creating an exciting new marketing channel.

In short, IoT (Internet of Things) applications will take off like never before. The arrival of 5G could soon mean the Internet of Everything.

The (increased) power of location
The 5G platform is also anticipated to create even more opportunity around location intelligence, given the increased accuracy and precision it will provide associated applications. Marketers crave location information since it provides valuable insight into where consumers spend their precious time—and, of course, money. And 5G can deliver location information that paints a more complete, nuanced, and real-time profile of consumers than ever before. As more consumers come to realize the immense value of their location data to marketers, there will also be greater pressure on marketers from consumers to provide some compensation or reciprocal value for sharing that information.

On-demand data sharing
Another significant marketing opportunity presented by 5G is the potential for on-demand availability of massive datasets. These huge datasets could be seamlessly shared between brands and vendors to improve customer experiences and, potentially, loyalty. For example, a clothing brand could be motivated to share its product inventory or customer information with an international hotel chain, so that if a guest needs a particular article of clothing for their stay, the hotel can present an ad for that clothing brand in seconds.

When is it arriving?
Nearly two dozen wireless carriers, including all of the major carriers, are slated to begin launching 5G services in mid-2019. AT&T launched 5G service in a dozen cities in late 2018 and Samsung, Huawei, LG, and several other Android smartphone manufacturers have already introduced 5G-ready models. Expect widespread rollout across the country in 2020.

Preparing for 5G adoption
Given the anticipated huge demand for 5G connectivity, there are many issues that still need to be addressed. First and foremost, unsurprisingly, is the massive cost of installing viable 5G networks across the country and determining how that will lead to prices consumers are willing to pay for the service. In addition, ad formats and file sizes of content that can make the most of 5G will require new approaches, file specifications, and buying models; in addition, definitions of ad inventory will need to be greatly revised and expanded. As always, security for transmissions and transactions over networks, or even directly between devices, will be a major issue.

Despite these concerns, 5G will be upon us sooner rather than later. Smart marketers will be taking steps today to take advantage of the multitude of possibilities this technology presents for building and extending their brand.