How Will 5G Impact Marketing?

5G is sweeping over the UK and other European countries. The prospect of ever faster connections and many more connected devices is mind blowing. For technology lovers, great – but how will 5G impact marketing? Is it just another faster network or does it offer more? Could it change how we do business? Read on to find out.

The promises of 5G technology are less latency, greater speed and the ability to connect far more devices to the network. Certainly this is good news for marketers as it increases opportunities but one should be cautious in believing all the hype being bandied about surrounding it.

With greater speed should come much smoother streaming, faster downloads and greater use of online resources. Increased speed should also mean more people accessing more online material, streaming seamlessly and downloading in moments.

These are just the direct effects (or “first order effects” for futurists) of 5G’s capabilities. It will also pave the way for new, emerging technologies, new ways of business communication.

Retailer IKEA, for example, has already made forays into augmented reality via mobile, letting their customers see what products will look like in situ. One way this idea could find itself using 5G is using avatars, for instance using customers’ measurements for them to try on virtual clothes online, which would boost e-commerce yet further. In South Korea, consumers can already use virtual reality to do their supermarket shopping.

Smart devices will get yet smarter with 5G: interacting with smart speakers, for example, will develop from the current limited voice commands to proper, full conversations using a combination of 5G and cloud-based AI. Combine this with domestic robots and we have the beginnings of electronic butlers.

One set of technical capabilities connected to 5G and needing to keep pace will be ad serving technology: 5G is not going to mean programmatic ads automatically being delivered faster. Also, though ads will load faster – particularly on mobile – it still isn’t going to turn a dud ad into an ace.

Another possibility 5G opens up is that of personalised ads as consumers pass screen billboards. At the moment, that requires a big OOH infrastructure outlay, since only about 1 in 20 of the UK’s poster sites are currently screens but it would also require a logistical problem solved – one person’s ad finishing before the next ‘nearest’ person’s ad starts … a nightmare if you’re anywhere crowded!

One problem that will again rear its ugly head is that of using personal data. Attitudes towards the use of personal data are changing fast and, while the ability of the technology to collect information about individuals’ location, behaviour etc. should mean better targeted advertising for everybody, if people feel their privacy is being invaded or the personal worth of such advertising is negligible, it could all backfire.

Speed of connection is set to jump again and, although generally ignored as a changemaker, each time it jumps – no matter what the medium – the effects are felt far-afield, making new technologies even feasible, changing ways of doing business and opening up new avenues. 5G could well give marketers access to yet unseen digital experiences for their customers and even for the process involved in marketing but none of this is a given. It needs resources, planning and a finger firmly on the pulse of customer feeling.

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