Skip to content

What 5G Means for Advertising

Is there nothing 5G can’t do? The ultra-fast, fifth generation of wireless technology being rolled out in select cities by telecoms T-Mobile, AT&T, Verizon and Sprint is already being billed as the technological advancement that is finally going to make everything from remote surgery and self-driving cars, to smart cities and automated homes, to robots and other intelligent machines commonplace reality rather than rarefied occurrence.

It’s no wonder expectations are so high. As noted in a recent CMO article, the transition from 3G to 4G provided the extra bandwidth needed to power such wide-ranging shifts as the explosion of mobile, the preponderance of video streaming, the birth of the app obsession and the advent of Uber, Airbnb and the sharing economy. 5G, with speeds up to 100 times faster than 4G, could propel us into even more unfamiliar territory given the advancements in artificial intelligence, virtual reality and the “internet of things” that are happening along with the evolution toward 5G.

Broad implementation of 5G won’t occur for a few years but advertisers would do well to start thinking now about how faster networks, better device connectivity and lower latency could benefit future campaigns. While it’s impossible to predict all the changes 5G will effect, here are a few things Digiday recommends marketers take into account for both the short and long term.

Need for Speed
Because 5G is designed to process and exchange more data at higher speeds, advertisers and publishers can expect to see faster ad-load times on desktop and mobile and more connected devices. This has the potential to mitigate the server delays that sometimes occur when a web visitor clicks on a link. With the delay eliminated, visitors are less likely to click away from an article or site and, maybe, less likely to employ ad-blockers, because loading delays are one of the primary reasons for employing ad blockers, according to this study by the Interactive Advertising Bureau. But smooth technology alone won’t lock in the eyeballs; compelling ad creative will. More on that in a minute.

Mobile, Untethered from Phones
Industry insiders are also predicting that smartphones may lose some of their prominence as 5G helps to make every device a mobile device in the Internet of Things era. Advertisers will need to be ready to serve content and engage consumers in multiple formats that are accessible in the blink of an eye. “When we look at the smartphone, we say, ‘That’s mobile and everything else is tethered,” Julie Coppernoll, VP of global marketing at Intel told AdAge recently for an article on 5G. “I think that is going to change. I think nothing will be ‘mobile’ anymore because everything will be mobile.”

Growing Complexity—It Never Ends
Ultimately, 5G will enable more complex advertising strategies in which the creative content will matter more than ever. With 5G, marketers will be able to process more data, allowing for the use of higher-resolution ads, such as 4K video, and furthering advertisers’ ability to personalize messaging in real time. It opens the door to even more ambitious and engaging creative.

“5G is an evolutionary step,” said Charles Hu, chief technology officer at PMX Agency in AdAge. “What it allows us to do is have a more stable and faster exchange and retrieval of data, so we can do more complex advertising.” Hu predicts that with 5G, mobile devices will have just as much power to interpret data as servers, delivering content instantaneously instead of having to go through a server.

So what can marketers do now to prepare for the 5G revolution? Get up to speed on automation, artificial intelligence, machine learning, virtualization and cloud computing. And look for the partners who can help guide you through the process.