November 17, 2017
GUEST: How 5G Will Shake Up Marketing in a Digital Era
By Amanda Bell

One of the most closely watched performances at next year’s Winter Olympics won’t be by an athlete, but by a technology. 

During the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympic Winter Games, Intel will provide its 5G mobile trial platform for Korea Telecom’s5G network. The games will offer a high-profile showcase for5G, the next-generation wireless network that’s purported to be up to 10X faster than 4G. 

Though there will be other scattered deployments for 5G in 2018, it won’t become widely available to consumers until 2019. That’s good. Marketers will need to adjust to what will be a major change to the marketing and media landscape. 5G’s effects will be felt in the following five ways:

  1. Mobile Virtual Reality (VR) will become viable. One of the reasons that VR adoption has stalled is that there’s no mobile component to the technology. But latency — the delay in processing and sending data — has made VR a home-based technology. With 5G, though, latency isn’t an issue. That means news organizations will be able to send reporters to cover events and transmit them back in VR. Consumers will be able to record moments the way they do with video and then share them in VR as well. This translates to new opportunities for VR-based advertising and VR product placement. 
  2. Cord cutting will accelerate. 5G is so fast that consumers will no longer need a fixed broadband connection in their homes. That means cutting the cord to cable and telecom providers. Mobile video will be even more accessible than before. For consumers, the delineation between traditional TV and Internet-based, on-demand video will continue to fade, providing an entree for companies like AT&T and Facebook to further position themselves as content providers. 
  3. Objects will become marketing vehicles. With 5G, marketers will be able to turn everyday objects into “smart” marketing media. For instance, a lamppost in a suburban neighborhood could “talk” to passersby with phones via text messaging that tells them about a house for sale. Such smart objects could be ubiquitous in the 5G age, offering marketers a new frontier for consumer-focused conversations.
  4. The telecoms will challenge the Google-Facebook duopoly. Facebook and Google have benefited from the fact that traffic to their properties occurs on their websites and apps. But with5G, physical location will become much more important. Telecoms, who control such data, will in turn be bigger players. Future applications for location-based targeting are unlimited, but marketers in general will have a better idea of where consumers are heading and what they’re looking for — data that will fuel real-time marketing messaging. 
  5. More broadband for rural areas. Many rural areas have missed out on the broadband revolution because it is too costly for telecoms and cable companies to wire up sparsely populated areas of the country. 5G may solve that issue since it’s much easier to set up a wireless network. The addition of rural consumers may provide new customers for marketers and new venues for brands that target such consumers. 

5G also benefits from coming at a time when Internet of Things (IoT), self-driving cars and augmented reality are developing. Better delivery mechanisms for all will benefit each technology. More dependable high-speed networks may also provide a shot in the arm for smart glasses. 

On the whole, because of 5G, we can expect the 2020s to look a lot different than the previous decade. Marketers should start planning for this new reality now. 

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