You could be forgiven for thinking that 5G has been implemented, tested and been through several iterations given the amount of coverage it has generated in the last six months alone. We’ve always been impatient when it comes to waiting for the next big technological development and the arrival of this fifth-generation network is no exception. 

The hype mainly centers around its promised speed; up to 100x faster than 4G, but 5G’s potential goes far beyond just speed alone. Certainly, for the advertising industry, we’re eager to see increased data rates, reduced latency, and higher device connectivity expected as a result of its implementation, but on a broader level, it will provide the catalyst for the next digital revolution. 

Before you start envisioning drones and AI-powered robots en masse, think about it in terms of infrastructure and how this ultimately helps to shape every industry. Working in the digital sector, 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. In the past, and particularly in this region, unreliable and reduced bandwidth has proved restrictive in terms of what we are able to execute and achieve. However, with 5G on board, it will help with so many different aspects of the digital world, not least in unleashing new creative capabilities. 

Where 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, 5G will prove the ultimate game changer. We could see the emergence of new advertising layouts, a renewed focus on VR and a rise in AR adoption, with 5G expected to solve consistency and speed issues like never before to create these seamless and immersive experiences. 

The anticipated super-fast bandwidth could take tech like AR fully into the mainstream, providing high-quality, interactive overlays to make any surface into an advertising medium. As technology evolves, this amalgamation of virtual and real-life will become more of the norm, existing outside of ‘Black Mirror’ doomsday scenarios and powering the next generation of advertising possibilities. 

Data collection will significantly increase in the 5G era too, recorded in real-time and used as a way to cultivate value on both fronts. For advertisers it will help better measure the impact of their marketing investments, while for the user it will offer a hyper-personalized experience. High speed data exchanges will power these compelling advertisements and improve landing page load time, but it’s the additional layer of predictive analysis (through more connected devices) that will help anticipate, rather than just learn from user behavior, which will prove the most impressive.  

The IoT (Internet of Things) will act like a component for connectivity, just one of many devices all talking to each other, exchanging data and linking up all areas of our life seamlessly. For consumers, this is just another link forged in the chain to convenience, whilst for advertisers, it provides a unique opportunity to leverage all this data to predict a need, then serve up content at exactly the right time. 

We’re not quite there yet of course, despite the utopia I’ve just laid out for you over the previous seven paragraphs. The impact of 5G won’t be apparent overnight but make no mistake; as we adapt to the reality of living in this fifth-generation era, it will fundamentally change the way we live our lives. On both a global and regional scale, the investment is there and a roadmap for worldwide implementation is already in place. 

American Telco’s Verizon and AT&T are offering 5G services in major US cities, whilst regionally, Etisalat and Du have brought the first 5G devices to market, with more options expected in the coming months. However, next year is when the TRA (Telecommunications Regulatory Authority) expects to deploy and launch 5G in the UAE – just as Expo 2020 rolls into town. With this higher bandwidth, more users and devices can be connected at the same time without any degradation, which is no small feat considering the 25million visitors expected to come for Expo alone. 

In the meantime, we need to lay the groundwork in preparation for a shift that will reimagine the current advertising architecture as we know it. The need for speed is everything when it comes to surviving today’s competitive landscape and as this 5G technology matures, it will help shape a world without borders, where connectivity thrives, and creativity is limitless. 

That isn’t speculation either, that’s the new reality – some 50million 5G connections across MENA by 2025 according GSM Associate projections. Now, if that doesn’t spur you into action to make good on 5G’s promised potential, nothing will. Wait at your peril, now is the time to get to work.

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