Go fast or go home. It’s not exactly ambiguous as a statement, is it? But the need for speed is everything when it comes to surviving today’s competitive landscape – either you pause and perish or adapt and thrive, that’s what it ultimately comes down to. Mindset is one thing, but you also need the supporting tech and infrastructure to help put these plans into action.

We’ve welcomed each new technological development with open arms, providing consent in return for convenience and eagerly anticipating the next big thing that will allow us to take our creativity even further, and crucially, deliver it even faster.

3G gave us fixed wireless access, video calls and mobile TV, 4G introduced video streaming, programmatic auctions and a gateway to the world of AI, Machine Learning and virtual and augmented reality, but 5G? Well, that’s set to be a gamechanger in every way, not least for advertisers and publishers, who are hungry to test boundaries and break out new formats.

Promises of speed up to 100x faster than 4G is enough to get anyone excited, with expectations almost unrealistically high as to what will be possible. While 5G is expected to shake up every industry, we are probably more impatient than most for its arrival, with high data rates, reduced latency, and higher device connectivity expected as a result.

Deploying the right infrastructure has always been a key component in shaping businesses and this is no different in our world; we work in a digital industry where a lot of our execution happens on mobile; a shift that has evolved with the ‘on-the-go’ consumer and a big reason why the impact of a fast and reliable network is so crucial to our success.

As buffering becomes a thing of the past, video consumption on mobile is expected to rise even further, accounting for 82% of all traffic globally by 2022. Time spent on video will reach new heights, and as a result, offer a lucrative opportunity for advertisers to capitalise – but only if they can provide a point of difference. There’s already an overload of choice when it comes to content, which will only further increase in the wake of 5G, thanks to formats being cheaper to produce and stream. Users today are jaded with their online experience; if they are going to engage, then they demand something new, interactive and intuitive.

While there are limits to our knowledge (mind readers, we’re not) and restrictions to what can be executed creatively given the tech limitations right now, the explosion of data in recent years has helped significantly in making hyper personalization and effective targeting possible. Where 5G will open the door for further advancement is in giving us an additional layer of predictive analysis (through more connected devices) to help anticipate, rather than just learn from past user behavior.

The IoT (Internet of Things) has been underplayed in the past, written off as something of a novelty (a smart fridge we couldn’t see the point of, for example) but in the context of this 5G-powered era, it acts more like a component for connectivity, just one of many devices all talking to one another, exchanging data and linking up all areas of our life seamlessly. For advertisers, this provides a unique opportunity to leverage all this data to predict a need and then serve up content at exactly the right time.

I’ve said before that any argument worth having today should be centered around data and it is data that will be at the heart of this next digital transformation. Imagine data exchange at high speed that will power compelling advertisements and load landing pages in the blink of an eye, or advanced data collection that is compiled from multiple sensors and touch points to give advertisers even more granular targeting capabilities.

As a result, the sheer volume of data collected will increase significantly in the 5G era, recorded in real-time and used as a way to cultivate value on both fronts. For advertisers, it will help to better measure the impact of their marketing investments and for the user, it will deliver a personalized experience that goes beyond anything they have seen before.

In the past, and particularly in this region, unreliable and reduced bandwidth has proven restrictive in terms of what we could execute and achieve. However, with 5G on board, it will help with so many different aspects of the digital ecosystem, not least in unleashing new creative capabilities. Effectively, it’s helping to shape a world without borders, where connectivity thrives and creativity is limitless.

We could see advertising formats that have yet to be invented, a renewed focus on virtual reality and a rise in augmented reality adoption. 5G is expected to solve consistency and speed issues to create seamless and immersive experiences, offering super-fast bandwidth that could take tech like AR into the mainstream, and provide high-quality, interactive overlays to make any surface into an advertising medium.

Clearly it’s easy to get carried away when you consider what this technology could be capable of. Personally, I’m a realist and know that the expected impact from 5G won’t just happen overnight, but make no mistake; as the technology matures and we adapt to the reality of living in this fifth generation era, it will fundamentally change the way we live our lives.

Now is the time to lay the groundwork in preparation for a shift that will reimagine the current advertising architecture as we know it. Performance matters and in a time where speed is now just as important as creative execution, infrastructure needs to be very high up on everyone’s checklist. In the race for dominance, the need for speed will become a key differentiator as 5G opens the door for innovation and excellence. For our part, we just need to be ready to take advantage.

Written by Ayman Haydar,
Chief Executive Officer