"Data-Driven Thinking" is written by members of the media community and contains fresh ideas on the digital revolution in media.
5G was designed to enable a more connected world. The next-gen mobile network takes connectivity to a whole other level that extends well beyond the mobile phone – and that includes the ways in which marketers connect with consumers.
5G works and connects differently than past mobile generations. Those differences are likely to drive several significant changes that can fundamentally alter marketing data and data-driven marketing.
Some of the most impactful 5G-driven marketing shifts will be in the data marketers use to target their messages. For example, marketers will likely feel greater confidence in data sets that will become even more precise, enabling better targeting and measurement. At the same time, data sources will significantly expand, while the quality of probabilistic data will improve.
Here is a deeper dive into the gradual changes we can expect once 5G rolls out across the United States.
Precision: 5G operates in frequency spectrums that require a different approach to network design and connectivity. The biggest leaps in speed and reductions in latency will come from millimeter wave (high frequency) connections that require a much more concentrated network of small indoor and outdoor antennas to enable consistent operation and performance. By bringing those connectors closer to consumers, the location (and other) data available will become even more precise than it is today. This shift will have a positive impact on marketing data sets. More precise and reliable data means more precise targeting and reliable measurement.
Data sources: The cost and energy efficiencies of 5G will enable devices to connect more economically with greater utility. The new speed and low latency is expected to spark new real-time services and innovation. As a result, more businesses are expected to deploy apps, smart devices and sensors to engage consumers. 5G will push a steadily growing IoT market even further. The data gathered by those new devices and experiences will be potential new sources of marketing data, and many companies will implement strategies for monetizing or utilizing the data they collect. This shift offers great potential for creating new targeting opportunities and insights about consumer touch points and behavior for brands and agencies.
Mobile carriers: Today, peripheral devices, such as smartwatches and voice assistants, connect to mobile apps via Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. In the coming years, we’re likely to see some entirely new categories of devices connect directly to the 5G network, just like mobile phones. That, in turn, will mean carriers may have access to a lot more valuable data and play a bigger role in the marketing ecosystem than they do today. For example, carriers will be in a unique position to link multiple devices to the same user or household or know when specific peripheral devices are sending data.
Probabilistic data: More data, consumer touch points and precision all add up to a giant collective shot in the arm for data science. Data models are about to get a whole lot smarter because better data inputs enable better data models, and each new device is a new potential data input. This shift can significantly change the way marketers seek and select data. Today, probabilistic data is often synonymous with “weak,” “inaccurate” and “ineffective.” Deterministic data is held in higher regard.
But in the ad industry, “deterministic” is a misnomer; it simply means that it hasn’t been changed, so many assume it must be more trustworthy. However, being unchanged doesn’t mean the data is correct. In the 5G future, data models are very likely to become much more sophisticated and informed with more frequent updates. As a result, predictive AI models (based on probabilistic data) will become essential, highly valued and much more accurate.
Access: The high-speed, low-latency connectivity of the 5G future will almost certainly force needed changes in programmatic advertising. Today, consumers wait five, six, upwards of seven seconds for pages, apps and ads to load, due in part to the convoluted nature of ad tags, waterfalls, header bidding, verification, attribution and servers. The current latency of programmatic advertising will undoubtedly become even more apparent to consumers when they get used to 5G’s ultra-responsive connections. As consumer expectations change, slow-loading pages and ads will likely be exposed and abandoned in greater numbers.
To stay relevant, publishers, ad tech companies and data providers will have to respond by addressing those latency issues. Marketers will seek vendors and solutions that eliminate the causes of lag. The vendors that thrive will most likely be those that embrace technologies that move data and algorithms much closer to the consumer – solutions such as edge computing and distributed AI. Through the combination of highly accurate probabilistic data models and distributed data architectures, ad targeting and decisioning can operate at speeds much closer to real time.
Vast improvements in models and targetability will change the way marketers think about data. As a result, marketers will evaluate vendor relationships and data strategies through a very different lens. The new field of options and possibilities may finally provide marketers with the ability to execute people-based marketing programs with greater confidence that the right message can truly be seen by the right people at the right time.
It won’t happen overnight. The adoption of 5G adoption will likely seem unremarkably gradual for the next couple of years. For most marketers, its rippling impacts will probably go unnoticed. Then suddenly, brands and agencies that have paid close attention and planned ahead will undoubtedly make some creative, generation-defining moves.