Mobile data usage has been rising rapidly over recent years, driven ever upwards by the availability of high-quality content and the widespread adoption of the apps that deliver it.
Consumer expectations are rising in parallel, as we all expect to stream music, watch films, and share video content through our phones at all times, without interruption.
We are Snapping, Instagramming and gaming our way through vast quantities of data.
The average UK smartphone user consumed 41 per cent more data per month in 2016 than in 2015, and estimations say that, by 2021, Europeans could be using an average of 18 GB per month.
In order to meet these growing demands, we need a reliable, high-speed, 24/7 data connection.
So it’s understandable that all eyes are on the roll-out of 5G, which promises ultra-reliable, seamless connectivity, with greater speeds and reduced latency.
This week, the chancellor renewed the government’s commitment to 5G, and the roll-out of a series of 5G testbeds across the country.
We at Landmrk are fortunate to be one of a handful of innovative SMEs that, alongside research bodies, network and service providers, and global content companies, will be involved in a groundbreaking 5G Smart Tourism project in Bristol and Bath, which is part of a £5m investment from the government to trial a superfast 5G network.
This is just the beginning, and we are right to be excited about the potential of this technology.
It is not simply the speed of 5G that will be transformational. The number of connections that it will enable will fundamentally change the infrastructure of how we communicate and how we live our lives. With 5G, everything will be connected: from our cities to our bodies.
Is it raining? What mode of transport are you using? How fast is it moving? What is the time of day? This level of detailed information will be seamlessly connected, monitored, and shared – used to knit together a full picture of where you are, what you are doing, and what lies ahead.
Brands will be able to use this data to tailor content experiences, which will react to external factors, such as smart city sensors, satellite, location, and personal information like health or heart rate. This level of contextual understanding offers an unprecedented opportunity for marketers, enabling greater precision and relevance than ever before.
Instead of simply pushing campaigns to people, brands will be able to have meaningful conversations with them, not only understanding their needs, but anticipating them too – building a picture of a person that evolves over time.
This will improve the experience for the end user and, crucially, it will give brands and marketers much more insight into how their content is being received. This is vital, because in this ultra-connected world, people – not brands – will be in the driving seat.
If data is the currency upon which our digital economy thrives, we are witnessing a dramatic shift of power towards the consumer, who will have more control over their data than ever before. Brands will no longer be able to use customer data in the cavalier way they once did.
The introduction of the GDPR has already sent brands and businesses into a tailspin, and we are only just seeing the beginnings of this switch.
If the future of marketing is permission-based, 5G offers the opportunity to overcome this challenge, because when permission is everything, relevance will be a hugely powerful asset.
There will be a race for marketers to deliver meaningful and personalised mixed-reality experiences that audiences enthusiastically opt into.
And those that fail to adapt to this change will fall behind.
We are already witnessing the rise of a new category which today is in its infancy: mixed reality experiential marketing. This is a blend of physical and digital, which will build on and react to the experiences in the world around us.
Early examples of this physical-meets-digital fusion have been considered as novelties. Take the poster-child of mixed reality, Pokemon GO, which has been expanded by tech giants and global brands alike, with the likes of IKEA’s Place, Nike’s SNKRS, AR ad platform Snatch, and Harry Potter Wizards Unite.
But 5G is going to move us far beyond the gimmick or the game, and those who think that mixed reality marketing is a novelty or a fad are missing the point: it will be the status quo.
This future of experience marketing will be platform and content agnostic, switching between augmented reality, virtual reality, and more traditional content pieces, including video, audio, and the written word.
We won’t see any uniformity in hardware, with content having to work across smartphones, wearables, and other devices, meaning that the content itself will have to be reactive and flexible.
This vision doesn’t simply belong on the stage of technology conferences anymore – it is something that will soon be our reality, and there is a lot to learn.
Only those who understand this shift and who are not only technically ready but creatively prepared to operate in this hyper-connected and data-sensitive world will be in a position to benefit from this shift from the off.