Text: Francis Fung, senior insights manager, international consumer growth marketing, Verizon Media
The 5G revolution is imminent and Asia’s tech-savvy consumers are increasingly excited about the benefits it will bring. But are marketers adequately prepared to capitalise on the immense creative, innovation and data rewards its arrival will herald?
Verizon Media recently polled advertisers and consumers in South East Asia on how they expect 5G to transform their experiences.
Our insights showed that consumer interest is rapidly gathering pace, with 92 per cent of those quizzed having heard of 5G and being at least somewhat familiar with its benefits.
More than half, 53 per cent, said they were extremely excited about its impending arrival.
Despite this, only one-third said they were either moderately or extremely familiar with the benefits 5G could bring.
The consumers we spoke with were especially excited about faster data transfer speeds (78 per cent), greater connectivity for wearables (62 per cent), higher definition video content (59 per cent) and better consistency and quality of video streaming (59 per cent).
However, despite the consumer traction, only 20% of marketers said they were extremely or somewhat familiar with the benefits of 5G.
This is despite the fact that Singapore, Philippines, Vietnam, Thailand and Malaysia are all targeting the introduction of commercially viable 5G networks as early as this year.
This lack of confidence is perhaps understandable because marketers are likely to need a deeper understanding of the technicalities behind the technology, compared to the average consumer.
However, we believe that 5G has the potential to revolutionise marketing for advertisers, and thus it is crucial brands prepare to capitalise on its benefits. Otherwise they risk being left behind in a sluggish and buffering 4G universe.
Here are three business boosting factors why we believe 5G will be a game changer:
1) Mobile video momentum: Stream if you want to go faster
5G will usher in an era of spectacular streaming capabilities, which will in turn offer exciting opportunities for marketers to offer better quality video content in a more stable environment, and in front of a bigger audience.
Our research has shown that in US, almost three-quarters of consumers stream a video at least once a week, and for 18- to 34-year-olds, the number shoots up to 43%. The same can be seen in South East Asia, where video streaming is growing fast.
Supporting this, 81 per cent of consumer respondents told us they would stream video more frequently when 5G arrives.
It is anticipated that 5G will provide data speeds that are 20 times faster than 4G, offering brands the chance to craft more immersive and even interactive video content.
The technology will also eliminate buffering ads that have long been the bugbear of consumers, and even adverts loaded with rich media will load quickly.
In a region where mobile video use is already huge, and advertisers are already ploughing in additional resources and spend, 5G will take this trend to the next level.
2) Future formats: 5G takes extended reality mainstream
Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) have been two of the hottest topics in mobile marketing for several years, but the introduction of 5G will drive them into the mainstream.
We found that one-third of consumers would use 5G to better explore AR and VR, and we believe this will rise exponentially once consumers get to experience what is possible.
Today, AR is limited in its creative implementation due to technological constraints, but 5G will shatter this.
This bodes well for brands who are already at the forefront of utilising this technology, either by placing their products in real world settings, adding elements of entertainment to drive engagement, or as a crucial component of the customer journey to conversion.
With an estimated one billion AR and VR users by 2020, it is no surprise that 67% of planners want these solutions in their marketing mix.
A critical component of this will be programmatic VR, which is predicted to be a $40bn market by 2020.
This will help drive well-executed VR ad experiences that provide utility, enhance reality and create meaningful connections, at speed and at scale.
There will also be huge gains for brands involved with in-game marketing, with 49 per cent of our consumers stating they would use 5G to play more.
3) Real time, real results: 5G delivers on data
In addition to better consumer experiences offered, 5G will also provide a whole host of benefits for marketers to access more high-quality data, and to tap into real-time and location-based targeting.
One huge plus of faster and more reliable 5G network speeds is that more devices will be able to connect at any given time, and this includes not only traditional mobile devices and tablets, but also wearables or any IoT-enabled gadget from fridge-freezers to home security systems.
This will dramatically increase the amount of data available to brands, which in turn will help power a more personalised and customised approach to marketing.
It will also rapidly ramp up the accuracy of geo-targeting, while simultaneously allowing for greater real-time marketing solutions.
One area sure to benefit is programmatic digital out of home (DOOH) advertising, where 5G’s connectivity improvements will allow for a seamless real-time experience that can provide crucial information (think traffic news, train delays and weather warnings), to super-quick personalised campaigns using consumers comments or photos.
Likewise, live events, such as major sporting occasions, will be able to utilise 5G for pitch-side advertising and live video playback, while spectators will be able to access video streams in real time, watch replays from any angle and overlay AR content onto the stadium.
Hurdles to jump
While we are convinced of the benefits of 5G, we also believe that adoption across industries will be a gradual process.
Our survey found that excitement was highest among advertisers from electronics and tech firms, financial services, retail and e-commerce, personal care and cosmetic, and telecom brands. These were followed by healthcare, pharmaceutical, travel, and hospitality brands who were moderately excited. Meanwhile the FMCG companies were only slightly excited about 5G.
In Singapore, the main barriers to adoption for advertisers were highlighted as the investment costs, disruption to current work patterns and not having the corresponding infrastructure.
On the consumer front, the main concerns were cost, with US$10 being the additional monthly charge that consumers in South East Asia, would be willing to absorb for the better experience.
Of course, and as with any new technology, there will be hurdles to overcome.
But in a mobile-first region with an insatiable appetite for the latest tech advances, we truly believe 5G is a huge opportunity for brands to create immersive campaigns that are content-rich, customised and compelling across a myriad of platforms.