Apr 10 2019
Anthony Loredo

Ask the Expert: What is 5G?


‘Ask the Expert’ is a blog series that breaks down the complicated tools, tech, and trends you’ve been hearing about in the trade pubs and around the office. We reach out to our in-house experts to ask the tough questions and turn them into bite-sized Q&As for your reading pleasure.

This month’s topic? 5G. We brought in Centro’s senior director of media innovations and technology, Noor Naseer, to give us the breakdown.

What is 5G?

5G refers to the network that mobile data passes through. There is no set definition on what it is, in terms of standards and tech specifications. However, the general consensus is that it means data uploads and downloads on mobile devices whole lot faster - The type of speeds that consumers are really going to notice. Think: downloading a whole movie via your wireless network in seconds. With 5G, users could reach 10Gbps speeds. Most U.S. users are using wireless services that are on 4G networks, but major carriers have been busy testing and touting faster technologies.

What does this mean for digital advertising?

Similar to how broadband Internet fueled digital media consumption on desktops, and a subsequent rise in digital advertising, even greater advertising opportunities will be seen in apps, media and advertising on mobile devices. I see the most potential in improved ad quality and delivery. One aspect of this is the enhancement of location capabilities. Higher data speeds, better sensors, plus continued improvements in the geo-capabilities space, will give marketers very precise views of the user. The rollout of 5G will enable seamless sourcing and delivery of location-based data to millions of devices simultaneously. Another exciting potential is high-resolution video ads. Expanded capabilities under 5G include 4K video, with dynamic and personalized messaging, served in real time. More complex video ads will play with little to no latency issues. 

Does 5G affect programmatic advertising?

The most significant foreseeable impact will be the serving of video ads on mobile devices through programmatic buying. Opening up the opportunities to serve video ads that render fully, are viewable, and are measureable, will drive marketers to spend even more significantly across this channel. As the demand increases, publishers will utilize more of these types of ad units, and DSPs will see more and more impressions from their supply-side partners. The bidding mechanism behind programmatic channels wouldn’t see significant change, as most major DSPs are already evaluating opportunities and churning through real-time bids at a rate of billions per second.

Beyond paid media, how could marketers capitalize on 5G?

A benefit with evaluating 5G at this point is that the possibilities are vast. The opportunities are whatever creative minds can think up. And it would rejuvenate ideas that were challenging to implement previously. We all remember the widely popular, mobile-driven, Pokemon GO that utilized augmented reality. I see 5G emboldening marketers to think and develop more of those types of VR, AR and XR (extended reality) experiences for their customers. 5G makes it more seamless to offer greater immersion and engagement to users.

What am I not thinking of when it comes to 5G?

It comes down to cost for the user. Broadband Internet on desktops took off because the costs were manageable, or it was bundled into other services (enabling the ease of adoption). Initially, 5G is looking like a premium upgrade, where it is an add-on cost to an already premium mobile plan, or extra equipment is needed. There will be early adopters, but there may not be scalable audiences for marketers to reach. Worth noting is that broadband started as a premium service. Millions of consumers at the onset of broadband had lower cost options (dial-up, anybody?). So, history shows that so-called “premium services” in the present could morph into widely-popular essentials for the normal consumer, especially as more companies enter the market and release competitive offerings. Chances seem likely that 2020 will be the debut year of many exciting opportunities with 5G.