Advertising Digital Publishing
4 mins read

5G is coming but does it signify a new age in mobile publishing?

For publishers, especially mobile publishers, a fast internet is essential. When 4G was introduced in 2010, it brought about video streaming, app stores, and an entry point into the world of augmented reality and even the first shoots of AI. Data packages which allowed unlimited roaming and downloads were slow to catch up, but by 2016, a fast mobile internet and unlimited data became the de facto standard.

Fast forward to 2018 and after a successful public trial during the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, 5G’s introduction has the potential to change digital advertising and publishing forever.

What is 5G?

Similar to 4G and 3G before it, 5G is a wireless connection built specifically to keep up with the proliferation of devices that need a mobile internet connection. The “G” in 5G stands for “generation.” Wireless phone technology technically started with 1G in the early 1990s, and it expanded to 2G when companies first started enabling users to send text messages between two cellular devices.

Eventually, the world moved on to 3G, which gave people the ability to make phone calls, send text messages, and browse the internet. 4G enhanced many of the capabilities that were made possible by the third generation of wireless. Users could browse the web,  send text messages, and make phone calls—and they could even download a publisher’s content quickly and without any issues.

5G will build on the foundation created by 4G LTE. It will allow users to send texts, make calls, and browse the web as one might expect—as well as dramatically increasing the speed at which data is transferred across networks, allowing for quicker site access, which will prove beneficial to publishers.

5G will make it easier for users to download and upload Ultra HD and 3D video too, as well allowing publishers to make use of high-resolution ads.

Publisher challenges

Speaking to WNIP, leading mobile expert Helen Keegan (founder of the Heroes of Mobile global events) believes that although 5G will be popular amongst the majority of consumers, those using an older generation of handset shouldn’t be forgotten about. “There will still be people using 3G, so we are looking at a much wider range than before,” she said, “It’s these consumers that marketers and publishers alike cannot forget about.”

Publishers with poorly performing pages will also be exposed by 5G especially those lacking the capability to deliver instant personalized content. Those relying on JavaScript, responsive web design alone, or containing too many 3rd parties could also be compromised due to the slowdown in page loading times.

It’s also vital for publishers to know the various mobile network operator’s (MNOs) intentions as – if past experience is any guide – they will be looking for flagship content partners. AT&T’s recent acquisition of ad tech giant AppNexus is also a strong guide as to how the mobile advertising ecosystem is set to develop, whilst Verizon’s acquisition of Yahoo and AOL (now merged into Oath) is another pointer as to the importance MNOs are giving to mobile content. The space is dynamic and fast moving.

Ad tech benefits

Bandwidth and latency benefits of 5G bring significant advantages for advertising – ads will load faster, enabling richer video and interactive ads to more easily meet viewability standards. However, the ad tech ecosystem of servers, exchanges, SSPs, DSPs, and DMPs will need to adapt to deliver faster performance. In a world where a customer can receive a response instantly, the programmatic auction will need to complete in a few milliseconds, not the 100’s of milliseconds as it does in practice today. The architecture of ad tech will have to evolve, abandoning the constraints of the status quo and bringing new disruptors into the equation.

Heroes of Mobile’s Keegan believes, however, that before the ad tech industry sets about evolving to suit 5G, advertisers must first clean up their ways. “Advertising needs to clean up its act before I can see 5G making a significant difference”, she said. “We need better ads, less ad fraud and a better way to monitor ads”.

What’s next?

Already, the U.S. market is ramping up for the delivery of 5G, as consumer demand grows for 4K video, instantaneous experiences, and limitless connection. AT&T is one company leading the charge. Its recent acquisition of Time Warner and ad tech firm AppNexus are all steps the telecommunications company is taking to fully capitalize on the 5G service it aims to roll out to a dozen worldwide markets by late 2018. Verizon, Sprint, and T-Mobile are also determined to be part of the race to get 5G onto consumers’ devices.

As 5G becomes the norm, expect publishers and marketers alike to adapt to make use of its speed and processing capability. Companies are already establishing partnerships with these carriers to ensure they are well-positioned for 5G’s emergence. Last week, independent esports company ESL, which produces video game competitions worldwide and streams them to platforms such as Twitch, worked with AT&T on a plan to incorporate 5G technology into live gaming. At the E3 conference in June, ESL tested AT&T’s 5G technology.

Yet, despite the excitement that 5G is generating, “companies must cater for the wider range of wireless connection consumers” according to Keegan. Indeed, if there was one point she stressed it’s this: publishers cannot forget about readers who still use older generations of wireless connection.