Five ways 5G will upgrade digital advertising

5G is coming. Its superfast connectivity will create new business use cases, in particular, the IoT is held out as an area that will break new ground. But how will 5G affect the mobile advertising and marketing industry? Piero Pavone, COO and Co-Founder of ad-tech firm MainAd, thinks it will underpin a surge in new digital techniques that turn 5G speed into deeper immersion, better targeting, engagement and creativity.

With the promise of being 100 times faster than its predecessor, 5G is rolling out across the UK and is propelling us towards a high-tech future. 5G connectivity is an enabler, allowing existing technologies to fulfil their promise as well as driving innovations like smart cities, automated homes and driverless cars.

The same is true in the world of digital advertising. While innovation in the industry continues apace, limited infrastructure and slow connectivity has previously prevented certain technologies from reaching their full potential. Here are five ways 5G will change digital advertising for the better.

Truly ‘mobile-first’ campaigns

‘Mobile first’ may have been a mantra of digital advertising for many years, but issues around connectivity, latency and data use have placed restrictions on the full scope of mobile. While time on mobile devices is continually increasing, users still spend almost 70% of this connected to WiFi rather than cellular networks, restricting activities, such as video streaming, to homes or offices. The arrival of 5G will cut average latency from 50 milliseconds to just one millisecond, increasing the number of devices that can be supported within a 0.38 square mile area from just 2,000 to a staggering one million.

With this advanced connectivity, advertisers will finally be able to build campaigns around a true mobile experience, reaching users wherever they are and whatever they are doing. Mobile already accounts for the majority of digital ad spend, with smartphone overtaking desktop in 2018. 5G will see an even greater proportion of budgets allocated to mobile advertising.

A boost for video formats  

Video advertising will be the biggest winner from 5G. Already a popular format due to its immersive and engaging nature, video is growing rapidly with spend increasing 27% year-on-year in 2019.

While mobile is already a major driver of this ad spend, 5G advanced connectivity will take the format to the next level, enabling higher resolution, better quality, faster download times and the delivery of ads that integrate seamlessly into the user experience rather than interrupting it.

Mainstream experiential ads

In addition to video, 5G will open the door to immersive and experiential ad formats using technologies such as virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR). EE’s recent campaign which treated commuters to an AR Bastille gig live-streamed over 5G gives some indication of what is possible with this advanced level of connectivity.

5G will help advance emerging ad formats, such as in-game advertising and voice search, and will allow messaging to be interconnected across multiple devices and formats. We’ve been hearing for years that our refrigerators will tell us when we’re running low on milk and re-order it for us, but with 5G the idea that any device in our homes could be a channel for immersive advertising becomes more of a reality.

We’ve been hearing for years that our refrigerators will tell us when we’re running low on milk and re-order it for us, but with 5G the idea that any device in our homes could be a channel for immersive advertising becomes more of a reality.

Precise audience targeting

Digital advertising technologies such as programmatic already make use of real-time machine learning capabilities to predict which users are most likely to convert and to inform media buying decisions accordingly.

But 5G will dramatically enhance these capabilities, enabling faster, more efficient data collection, processing and insight activation and allowing advertisers to target audiences more precisely, at single-user level. Again, 5G will improve cross-device targeting. For instance, if a user gets distracted while making a smartphone purchase he could receive a reminder about the product via a smart speaker.

Effective dynamic creative

The concept of adapting ad creative to individual users isn’t new, but it is often hindered by latency issues and the inability to process large volumes of data in real-time. The arrival of 5G will increase the potential of dynamic creative optimisation, allowing products, pricing and ad formats to be continuously adapted according to thousands of data points, ultimately delivering bespoke ads more likely to resonate with that user.

In addition, the increased connection density of 5G will improve the quality of location data, allowing advertisers to make better use of proximity marketing and to adapt their messaging to the user’s immediate context.

With 5G still in its early stages, these benefits won’t be realised overnight. Tech providers within the digital advertising space may well need to adapt their platforms to keep pace with the advances in connectivity. But once 5G is fully operational and adoption begins to rise, it will give ad tech a much-needed upgrade, enabling existing technologies to finally fulfil their true potential, while paving the way for further ground-breaking innovation.

Piero Pavone, COO and Co-Founder, MainAd






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