How the 5G network will upend the marketing world

If the jump from 3G to 4G is any indication, it’s clear that 5G is going to make wireless connections faster than ever. But how will it affect the marketing world? In this article, we’ll put the 5G network under the microscope.

Let’s start with the basics. What exactly is the 5G network?

5G is the fifth-generation wireless network, after 1G, 2G, 3G, and—you guessed it—4G. Unlike its predecessors, 5G is meant to connect everything: from machines, to wireless devices like smartphones, to other objects. The 5G network is more unified, more capable, and more reliable than all network standards that came before it.

Another difference is that 5G is a software-defined network, meaning most of its operation takes place over the cloud. This makes the 5G network up to 100 times faster than 4G. It also translates to a higher capacity (more users on one network) and reduced latency (lag time in device-to-device communication). Downloading files or sending an SMS, for example, would be essentially immediate. 

To give an example, have you ever been at a soccer game with thousands of other fans and none of you can get service, despite having fully functioning 4G data plans? This is due to capacity restrictions on the 4G network. With 5G, this problem would disappear altogether.

Camp Nou will be the first stadium in Europe to have a dedicated 5G network. (Source: FC Barcelona)

What does the 5G network mean for marketing?

1. Online content is (still) king

The benefits we are set to enjoy as individuals with 5G also means big opportunities for advertising and mobile marketing. First and foremost, it’ll imply an increase in data usage. Early users of the 5G network have reported using 4x more data than they did before—meaning they’re also seeing more ads.

Source: Ericsson

With this in mind, if you’re working for a brand that isn’t present on all the relevant platforms, now’s the time to test the waters, experiment, and find new ways to connect with your customer. This could mean investing an Instagram, dabbling in Pinterest, or launching a company blog, which is a great way to spark conversations among industry players and build a community.

2. Interactive formats will prevail

We as marketers have long been exposed to formats like Augmented Reality or Virtual Reality, and have primarily been using it for experiential marketing. One great example of this is Burger King’s (very successful) campaign in Brazil last year. The campaign involved an app that allowed customers to “burn” their competitors’ ads to reveal a Burger King ad and a voucher for a free Whopper.  

But up until now, companies have had a lot of restrictions in terms of how real and complex these experiences could be. The 5G network removes these barriers, making this type of technology feel realistic and seamless. This enables brands to go beyond creating a short-term “WOW” effect, instead opting for more permanent virtual initiatives in their physical spaces. For example, a cocktail bar in London partnered with a whisky brand to offer a VR experience of the distillery, the natural landscape where it was made, and the aging process. 

3. The use of ad blockers could drop

Research conducted by HubSpot found that one of the biggest reasons people use ad blockers is because the ads slow down the page’s load time. And it makes sense. We marketers have the opportunity to invest in rich media banners or pop-ups to catch our target audience’s eye and improve our CPX, so of course the ads will be heavy. 

Screenshot from author

But with the 5G network, this wouldn’t even be a factor. Furthermore, faster load times—and a better UX—lead to a more positive relationship between brands and customers in the long term.

4. The use of device IDs will increase

If you’re not already doing so, tracking mobile device IDs is an important step to take. The 5G network will not only lead to the introduction of new kinds of device IDs, but it’ll also reinforce the mobile-first motto that marketers have been putting at the center of their digital strategies.

Why? If a marketer is familiar with the use of mobile IDs to create personalized profiles and create targeted ads, they’ll likely be quicker in adapting to new device IDs when introduced. This grew in popularity thanks to the growth of the IoT industry, including fitness devices, smart TVs, smartwatches, and so on. We’re already seeing brands such as Xiaomi, Samsung, and LG placing native ad units on their smart TV products.

5. Data will be received in real time

Another way the 5G network will impact the marketing world is that it’ll make data collection and processing happen in the blink of an eye. This allows marketing professionals to not only study new data in real time, but also to make business decisions faster—and potentially automated. The latter would be made possible with AI-driven workflows that act as the primary processor of data.

To sum up, 5G is like a power boost—it facilitates the seamless convergence of multiple technologies, making the user experience impeccable. 

Key takeaways for marketers

Knowing how to build buyer personas and communication plans no longer cuts it. The integration of technology in the marketing world was already inevitable, but with the implementation of 5G on a mass scale, digital will truly take over.

We as marketers need to understand the use of distinct technologies and start to experiment—be it by creating content optimized for mobile or using VR to improve customer experience. In parallel, we should strive to build our soft skills, deepening our relationships with the tech teams present within our organizations. With this combination of skills, your career in marketing will be immune to the changes that are sure to come.

shameek aswani

Being born and raised in Dubai hasn’t stopped Shameek Aswani from feeling 100% Indian at heart. He is a dual-degree student currently pursuing the Master in Digital Marketing at HST after successfully completing his MBA at IE Business School. He believes in learning from everything and everyone, a realization which resulted from having lived in 3 different cities in 3 different countries. A truly global citizen. Connect with him here.

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