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How 5G will transform multimedia digital experiences - and empower marketers

Paul Button
18th May 2020

The ability to deliver high-quality content faster and without interruption opens up a wealth of opportunities for marketers.

  • The increased speed and lower latency of 5G opens up huge opportunities for marketers to get more creative — and more personal

  • Combining high-quality live-streamed video with other technologies, such as VR, AR and AI, will enable brands to engage more deeply with audiences

5G technology is set to arrive in the UK this year, with each of the four major UK networks readying themselves to launch 5G coverage. The latest smartphones are already 5G compatible, and this new generation of mobile and wireless technology is (almost) here. Mergers in the telecoms space are also causing intense competition.

But why should marketers be rubbing their hands with glee? What does 5G actually mean for the future of multimedia content?

In recent weeks, numerous conspiracy theories about 5G and Covid-19 have been widely reported in the news, suggesting the technology is somehow linked to the spread of the respiratory virus in China — thankfully correlation alone does not mean causation. However, what the pandemic has resulted in, is a huge surge in consumers going online and therefore demanding a richer, more engaging digital experience. This is one of the reasons CMOs are making digital a priority right now


Here's some of the real benefits of 5G as we see them.

5G is an upgrade of 4G. Its main claim to fame is that it is super-fast at downloading and uploading data — at least 10 times faster than 4G and, at full throttle (depending on variables such as the network and the device), it has the capability to be up to 100 times faster. In real terms, this means consumers can download a feature film in seconds. Greater capacity also means mobiles will continue to connect seamlessly in crowded spaces.

Not only is 5G fast, its extra bandwidth means it has lower latency (the time taken for data from a device to be uploaded). Low latency plays a vital role in enabling real-time reactions in machines or cars — it will be critical in ensuring that self-driving cars react in the moment, for example. It is also key to delivering a seamless Virtual Reality (VR) experience, ensuring that when a viewer turns their head, the video responds immediately and quality isn’t compromised, as it often is with 4G. 

To give an idea of 5G’s impact, the average latency of 4G networks is around 50 milliseconds. With 5G, this could drop to one millisecond. 

The ability to deliver high-quality content faster and without interruption opens up a wealth of opportunities for marketers…


Video advertising

Video ads are very effective at converting consumers, and are therefore popular with brands. Indeed, IAB UK data from 2019 shows that video accounts for 44% of the total UK display market. But some publishers are reluctant to place video on mobile due to the slow download time, which makes for a poor user experience. 5G will allow these ads to run seamlessly, spawning innovation within the space.

Combined with AI-powered IoT devices, 5G will also enable more personalised advertising. Brands will suddenly have greater processing power at their fingertips, allowing them to find out more about their audiences in real-time, from their emotional states to their motivations and attention levels.

As a result, brands can tailor the messaging in their video ads, changing storylines mid-flow depending on a viewer’s responses. This increased relevance will only boost engagement rates.

Live video streaming

The ability to live stream high-quality video to audiences will enable brands to immerse consumers in an event as if they were there, enjoying it on their mobile from anywhere as it unfolds.

In the US, the National Basketball Association (NBA) has already experiment with 5G smartphone broadcasts, and has announced plans to enable global fans to watch a game from any seat in the stadium. This could generate further sponsorship opportunities.

Live streaming opens up numerous possibilities for linkups between Digital Out-Of-Home (DOOH) sites too, allowing brands to live stream film premieres, catwalk shows or sports events, for example.

Brands have an opportunity to deliver relevant, quality experiences through live streaming of content that truly engages users.

Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR)

Couple live video streaming with VR, and consumers can control how they enjoy the event, experiencing 360-degree immersion. Augmented Reality (AR) can also be deployed to provide overlays of statistics or display further information — at just the right time.

Streaming video with no buffering allows brands to be more creative with immersive media formats, delivering AR experiences as well as VR. Like VR, AR games rely on complete engrossment because any time lag allows reality to intrude. 5G overcomes this time delay, offering brands potential to expand in this area.


5G’s impact on AR is being tested. In late 2019, EE ran what it billed as the ‘world’s first AR multi-location gig over 5G’. The campaign enabled commuters in Liverpool and Edinburgh to experience a 360-degree performance by the band Bastille, live from Birmingham New Street station, streamed over EE’s 5G network (naturally). Fans effectively had a front-row seat and were given mixed-reality glasses to view AR graphics featuring city walls tumbling down, yetis and digital trains…

Digital Out-of-Home (DOOH)

Out-of-home (OOH) advertising is also likely to continue its resurgence as 5G becomes embedded in poster sites. Faster data processing will enable DOOH advertisers to respond with contextual creative across multiple locations, based on real-time audience data insights.


DOOH can also react to, and interact with, other mobile devices to deliver more targeted experiences. For example, an AR campaign could change to reflect location-specific weather, traffic conditions or breaking news, unlocking unprecedented creative opportunities for marketers.


Not only will lower latency mean a more responsive gaming experience — a press of a button will result in near-instantaneous action on the screen — but it will herald more multi-player and cloud-based games, as well as Netflix-style subscription services for gamers.

Of course, there are challenges alongside the opportunities presented by 5G. Brands must upgrade hardware, invest in new skills and resources, and identify compelling new business cases that will deliver ROI. In short, marketers need help in ensuring they are best-positioned to capitalise on this new technology. 

It’s pretty fast-moving — don’t get left behind.

Create digital experiences that inspire action

If you’re excited about the potential of 5G and optimising the digital experiences you deliver for your customers, get in touch with Roger Barr, our Chief Digital Officer, about how our creative team can produce 5G-ready campaigns for your brand.

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