Even as you read this, telecom is out there building a brand new infrastructure for 5G mobile. I believe that for advertisers, publishers and consumers, this is the biggest news in the media and marketing ecosystem. 5G is a massive breakthrough in bandwidth, distribution and mobile opportunity, and it’s about to change everything — again.
According to a report from MarketsandMarkets, the marketplace will be worth $2.86 billion by 2020 and $33.72 billion by 2026. With the future of next-generation mobile right around the corner, here are five things our industry needs to know so that marketing can capitalize on its power:
1. 5G is the fifth generation of mobile innovation.
What is 5G? It’s an abbreviation that stands for the fifth generation of cellular wireless transmission. Each generation is a benchmark of the speed at which data can be sent via radio waves.
The coming generation is even bigger news than the move from 3G to 4G. In the 3G world, you could move email and files around pretty well, but our mobile world was primarily text-based. With 4G, the world of video and audio opened up, and that’s where we are now. Still, 4G can be slower for new media formats such as augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR). And it can be expensive when it comes to the cost of moving major quantities of data — a cost that often gets passed along to the end user. We’ll come back to this effect later in the list. First, let’s look at two big changes around speed and the kind of content consumers will get to experience.
2. 5G aims to boost speeds and improve consumer mobile experiences.
5G is the moment when we go from 100-megabit connections — a great scenario on any day — to a 1-gigabit connection and more. For the sake of comparison, 3G traveled at speeds between 200 kilobits per second to a few megabits, while 4G scales data at speeds topping hundreds of megabits.
Unlike previous generations of wireless service, we’ll all work and play faster, experience less latency — and more responsiveness — and we’ll all be able to connect many more devices at the same time. With 5G coming into play, imagine downloading a whole movie to your phone in 30 seconds. Content will move from screen to screen, between brands and customers and consumer to consumer at lightning-fast and uninterrupted speeds.
3. The future of 5G means richer content for brands and customers.
Imagine consumers’ shopping experiences expanding with AR and VR interactions. And imagine those super-immersive moments becoming the new normal. I’ve seen demonstrations of next-gen mobile experiences that allow you to sit at home and try on clothes in an AR space, for example. With 5G, mobile marketers will be able to implement experiences like that one, plus advanced interactive gaming, and an even greater degree of personalization, thanks to even more accurate technologies around GPS and other types of context-driving data.
Also, 5G is predicted to create a massive opportunity around better location intelligence, ushering in a new era of precision and accuracy. It is going to connect IoT devices slated to hit global markets over the next few years back to consumers, households and businesses. This will set the stage for a whole new class of innovation in offerings and services, similar to 4G bringing in Uber, Google Maps and Airbnb.
According to an Adweek article, with 5G, consumers can expect to see innovations such as home-furnishing visualizations right inside their living rooms and bank ATMs transforming into full-service virtual bank experiences.
4. 5G could change the consumer’s data price point.
Other news about 5G is that, for the consumer, services should get less expensive data-wise. The cost of data will change: The way I see it, the very idea of data payments and costs could even go away to be replaced by new business models. If the past meant mobile users scaling back what they did on mobile to compensate for data-load and the associated costs, then I believe 5G is the future in which that pattern gets broken.
It’s a consumer mindset that will matter. When it comes to 5G, when we stop thinking “How much does this data cost?” we get to start thinking about “How can I enjoy mobile media in new and better ways?”
5. 5G’s phase-in time means plenty of runway for marketers.
There’s never been a better time to be innovating in our space, and we’ve never known the sheer number of options and approaches that are about to open up for our industry thanks to 5G. Yet, as with any transformation in the world of technology, the introduction of the next generation of mobile will roll out in stages. That’ll help marketers prepare.
We’ve seen AT&T’s “puck” 5G device, for example, but it’ll take until next year for Verizon to debut a standards-based 5G network that works in conjunction with its new Z3 smartphone. Meanwhile, some 5G smartphones are slated for release throughout the first half of 2019, as models from Huawei and Samsung are expected to compete for attention from early-adopter consumers. But it’s reported that Apple won’t offer 5G iPhones during this first wave of deployment, though it’s expected to have mobile 5G devices ready by 2020 or 2021.
With these timeframes on the table, now is the moment for marketers to start thinking about 5G. Some may even choose to partner with a tech expert in building the next generation of mobile ad experiences in the AR, VR and mixed reality spaces. Many of the walls that have constrained consumers (and marketers) to do everything they’d like to do with new mobile formats are coming down. The on-screen experience is going to get even more amazing as they do.