The move towards 5G locally has finally gained some major traction, with the announcement of the commercial deployment of Rain’s new network.
The data-only company promises download speeds of up to 700 Mbps, and although currently limited to certain parts of Johannesburg and Tshwane, their coverage is set to expand to Durban and Cape Town, with other metros in tow.
Granted, we’re still some time away from lightning fast 5G speeds available to all South Africans (mainly due to spectrum allocation problems), but Rain’s limited introduction still bodes well. Much like 4G and fibre unlocked streaming services such as Netflix, 5G will change the landscape in ways that’s difficult to imagine right now without it. One thing is clear – marketers will have access to an environment where consumers have always-on, super quick video, especially in the main metros. Combine this with the expected growth in augmented reality, and there’s ample creatively interesting marketing opportunities.
The bus stops here
Imagine the following scenario: A sweltering afternoon sees a group of commuters waiting for the bus. Using an augmented reality app, a woman scans the timetable on the pole. This provides a quick animation of the bus route on her phone, also offering information on when the next bus is actually arriving. An ad activates for a new ice-cream, providing a short video clip plus a discount code for use in the café across the road. The ad, knowing when the bus arrives, tells her she has enough time to quickly pop through and buy the ice-cream.
Dissecting this example, each part of the execution is dependent on reliable data transfer – and large amounts of it. The ad is location-based since it needs to show the closest shop stocking the ice-cream. There’s access needed to the current weather, seeing that it activates different ads according to the current temperature. The ad needs to know if the person screening the timetable is above 18, since it might display beer ads closer to the weekend, implying too that time-based data needs to be available. Finally, if the person scanning the timetable is available as first-party data, the system must have the ability to access this information in order to personalise the ad and record this interaction.
Effectively, this type of augmented reality marketing will allow any surface to turn into an advertising space, with the smartphone being the marketer’s weapon of choice. Talking of which, technology research company Gartner believes 5G smartphones will grow from 10% of the market in 2020, to a considerable 56% in 2023. With the ability to engage with customers straight from their pocket, the importance of desktop connectivity diminishes to the point where mobile will be everything to marketers.
Data – at scale
Another hugely exciting opportunity is the ability to use data at scale. At present, it’s very difficult to share large volumes of data. With 5G, brands or publishers will be able to distribute enormous volumes of data. Take for example Adidas, being able to share a database with preferred partners, such as a hotel chain. Imagine travelling to Europe, arriving at your hotel and realising you forgot your running shoes. Luckily the hotel knows exactly your model and shoe size. It can start flighting ads of the closest shop and pick out specials, or arrange a new pair delivered to your room. Knowing in which hotel you booked into, Adidas is able to show the closest and most popular running routes, seeing that they own the Runtastic fitness tracking app.
The time to start is now
While it’s true that Rain’s initial 5G offering is expensive and not readily available, it is putting 5G on the map locally. For South African marketers this should be the sound of the starting gun, making now the time to start working on advertising in an always-on, highly connected environment. Not doing so will see major opportunities in future pass them by.
Charlie Stewart is CEO of Rogerwilco, an independent, award-winning performance marketing agency based in Cape Town, South Africa. Founded by CEO Charlie Stewart and MD Jakes Redelinghuys in 2008, it employs 40 strategists, creatives and digital specialists. Follow @rogerwilco_sa.