Rose Tsou
Sep 24, 2019

Start thinking about the giant leap into 5G

Time is running out for marketers to look at how 5G’s superlative bandwidth and lightning speeds will transform digital advertising.

Start thinking about the giant leap into 5G

5G has been all over the news recently with governments in the Southeast Asia region determined not to fall behind in this critical technology race and pushing ahead with their plans for 5G rollouts. Singapore, Philippines, Vietnam, Thailand and Malaysia are all targeting commercially viable 5G networks as early as next year.

Chatting with a friend about this recently, I was asked, “What can 5G do for me?” Because she travels a lot around the region and is always connected through her phone, I thought of her frequent troubles with unreliable networks. “There will be fewer or no dropped calls with 5G,” I told her, adding, “And your favorite shows will download in the blink of an eye.”

It wasn’t hard to find the ‘phenomenal’ in 5G for her. But when marketers approach me with the same question, the answer isn’t as clear cut. That’s because the possibilities will be endless for advertisers in a 5G-powered world that promises spectacular connectivity and network reliability.

By delivering high bandwidth at lightning speeds, 5G data transfers will happen in a split-second. Through this next-generation wireless technology, it will be impossible to detect any lag when online, promising a better user experience for advertising content, while at the same time producing data that can be analysed in real time.

As it continues to transform the way we live, work and communicate, 5G will also overhaul how brands connect with their audiences. Collectively, we will have to reconsider the way we apply technologies such as Internet of Things, Artificial Intelligence and Extended Reality within the digital advertising landscape.

As each generation of wireless technology becomes widespread, it raises the bar for digital advertising. Just as 4G made video ads commonplace, this next generation technology will be another giant leap forward. To make the most of the opportunities 5G presents, brands will have to constantly re-evaluate how they are telling their stories against an ever-changing backdrop.

5G will enable advertisers to draw people into their universe, in countless different environments and imaginative ways. With 100x more connected devices and exponentially more data, marketers will be able to understand users better. Their challenge will be to create connected experiences that are more relevant to consumers, delivered precisely when and where they need them.

Advertisers in this region now have a tremendous opportunity to shape the 5G future, as long as they start thinking about it now.

Seamless video experiences

According to a report by Google and Temasek, mobile users in Southeast Asia spend far more time accessing the internet on their phones than users in other parts of the world, including China, Britain and America.

Another survey by InMobi, found the share of time spent viewing videos inside mobile apps is growing. As the number of smartphone users continues to grow, Southeast Asia in particular will continue to enjoy rising investments in mobile video advertising, InMobi foresees. With seamless, better-quality video streaming through 5G being offered to a region that is hooked on mobile video, mobile advertising will flourish, especially as marketers continue to allocate a bigger share of their spends on video.

While most digital experiences are still only offered in 2D, with audiences just “watching” videos, 5G will deliver a new dimension to viewing content. With it, consumers will move on from watching to “interacting” with the content. Football or badminton matches will offer whole new experiences that bring the viewer front and centre.

At the same time, advertisers will be able to leverage more immersive video formats that increase viewer involvement by delivering greater interactivity. With this comes a huge bonus, as the technology will eliminate buffering ads that send users reaching straight for ad blockers.

With low latency and extraordinary speeds that are roughly 20 times faster than what we have today, even rich media ads will load quickly, taking away much of the pain for users.

Immersive breakthroughs

As we prepare for the arrival of 5G, we have to be open to creating millions of interactive personalised experiences, each one based on an individual’s own preferences. When Extended reality (XR) meets 5G connectivity, it will give marketers a more effective digital wand with which to work their creative magic.

XR has so much to offer, and combined with 5G benefits, it can give people personalised information at the exact time and place they need it by mapping the web onto the real world and connecting interactions within it. Through real-time location-based targeting, 5G will accentuate these benefits, opening up never-before possibilities for personalization.

Marketing leveraging XR—encompassing 3D, 360, augmented, virtual and mixed realities—will offer a platform for rich, immersive and engaging experiences, made viable with 5G.

Through these formats, customers will be able to browse through a catalog to see how clothes or accessories like bags or jewellery, look on them and buy it from right within the ad experience. They could visualise a brand’s home furnishings in their actual home. A 360 degree video of a car’s interior could help a customer opt for a test drive. Immersive XR solutions powered by 5G’s robust connectivity can address real needs of consumers in a meaningful way, to drive higher engagement and purchase intent.

Since these formats consume large amounts of data and need a consistent connection to the internet, the near-instant speed 5G provides will allow for a better experience. Mass adoption can only come with 5G connectivity, which will open the floodgates to innovative consumer experiences.

In a recent study, Gartner predicted that 100 million consumers would be using augmented reality to shop—both online and in-store—next year. 5G will unlock the potential of alternative and virtual realities, which Gartner believes would eventually become "drivers of new revenue”.

5G-powered alternative reality experiences will not only be cool, they will also offer great value and utility for the next generation of consumers in this region. Brands will have an opportunity to deliver on what newer audiences want through 5G-enabled elevated experiences.

As the customer journey evolves dramatically, brands will have to respond with equally elevated experiences that are also relevant and helpful in the moment they are viewed. As advertisers take advantage of 5G to deliver both the innovation and utility that customers crave, they will find their audiences clamouring for more.

Rose Tsou is Verizon Media's head of international.

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