What is 5G and how will it impact digital marketing?


See the 5G hype on Free Social Search 

A repeated cause of confusion amongst some of my less youthful family members, the amount of “Gs” one should have on a phone and what these “Gs” actually represent.

Indeed, during their most recent mobile purchase, my parents requested 6G. I had to explain down the phone that I had suggested the iPhone6 - and no this number didn’t correlate to the amount of “Gs” it had in it.

But even for the more tech savvy amongst us, there is not always a clear understanding of what the tangible difference actually is - other than that each “G” represents an upgrade.

So, why all the hype about 5G? Well, let’s start by taking a brief look over the history of the wireless generations.

From 1G to 5G: Generations of wireless connectivity



Key components

Max speed 



Analog for voice calls only 




Digital, with text message support 




Higher data transmission rate, increased capacity & multimedia support




Integrates 3G with fixed internet to support wireless mobile internet to overcome the limitations of 3G. It also increases the bandwidth and reduces the cost of resources




Significantly faster data rates, higher connection density, much lower latency and energy savings, among other improvements.



As you can see from the chart above, the growth in terms of connection speed between 4G and 5G is at a scale not seen since the introduction of 2G back in 1991 - at which point it was growing from a very low base.

This 2,000% increase will have a huge impact on the capabilities of the wireless network and open up the potential for a world where everything is connected.

From increased rural access to enhanced smart cities; augmented reality to live streaming, the potential benefits are endless.

But how will 5G impact digital marketing?

5 key ways 5G will impact digital marketing 

First, let’s take a quick glance over the internet buzz surrounding 5G using Quick Search.

There have been more than 500,000 mentions of “5G AND wireless” over the last 13 months, with a total engagement of a little under five million - the buzz is real.  

Major peaks are visible in February, April and, most recently, July, with the latter primarily as a consequence of the T-Mobile-Sprint merger - considered a key development in the deployment of the new technology. 

When we make the search query more specific to digital marketing, the most common verb phrases begin to indicate some of the ways 5G is likely to make an impact.

Increasingly localized; respond differently; thinking forward; stay ahead - even just these first four phrases begin to provide some insight into the impact that 5G could have on digital marketing. 

So, without further ado, let’s take a look at the 5 key ways 5G will impact digital marketing.

1. Personalization will become increasingly important

The faster internet connections will see the number of internet users grow at an even faster rate than previously, with connections possible from more remote and more dynamic locations.

This hyper-localization will add an additional layer to persona segmentation, with personalisation and targeting becoming increasingly important.

When you consider that 94% of marketers already believe that delivering personalization is critical or important to reaching customers (Whiskdata), this is clearly a trend you can’t ignore.

2. Augmented reality will become a daily reality 

Although not completely new, virtual and augmented reality developments to date have often been severely limited by technology - 5G will change that. 

Apple have seemingly already started to focus on the increasing importance of augmented reality, with their recent iPod release.

2. Augmented reality will become a daily reality 

Although not completely new, virtual and augmented reality developments to date have often been severely limited by technology - 5G will change that. 

Apple have seemingly already started to focus on the increasing importance of augmented reality, with their recent iPod release.


Marketers too have already been experimenting with augmented reality, with some of the better executed campaigns clearly illustrating its potential. 

WWF are one organization who have really taken on the challenge of utilizing augmented reality into their awareness campaigns, with several great examples - from “Arctic Home”, in association with Coca-Cola (see below), to Free Rivers.

Beyond advertising campaigns, 5G is likely to further enhance digital customer experience. For example, it’s highly plausible that soon we’ll be able to virtually stroll around a high street store, pick out an item of clothing, try it on and purchase it - all from the comfort of our own home. 

This is just one example; with 5G technology, it will largely be only the innovative capacities of marketing departments that limit other use cases.

3. Ad-blocker usage may drop

The lower latency that will come with 5G may mean that consumers are less compelled to use ad-blockers.

Currently, more than a third of people who use ad-blockers say that the slow load speed is their major gripe (Hubspot). 5G will solve that and enable marketers to get more ads out to more people much faster than before. 

This could also help to create more positive relationships between brands and consumers, with the frustration over slow-loading ads no longer a concern. This may have some impact on the overtly negative sentiment felt towards Internet ads at this time:

4. Analytics will become real-time

Already a proportion of the data we are able to process and analyze is what we’d consider real-time data. For example, a customer Tweets about your brand and, with Talkwalker, you are immediately alerted to that Tweet and it becomes part of your analysis. 

However, what 5G will enable is the real-time integration of a wider range of actions and impressions. In the future, if a customer makes a purchase, they may automatically cease to receive any advertising related to that product or product type. 

This is strongly linked to the concept of hyper-personalisation mentioned earlier in the article and also forms part of the wider evolution of data analytics towards integrated customer intelligence.

Fundamentally, this will improve targeting, segmentation, customer experience and customer journey, and improve efficiencies for both brand and consumer alike. 

5. The importance of video will grow even bigger

It has been common knowledge for a while now that video is an increasingly important element of digital marketing. Indeed, it is said that, by 2021, 80% of all content will be video (Cisco).

5G is going to further enhance this, with mobile and live video being major beneficiaries of the increased speed of the network. 

This goes some way to explaining why several of the major social media platforms have made live video a key new feature and why most emerging platforms are also video-focused. 

At the moment, 60% of videos viewed online are done so using home broadband (Vox) - in part due to the limitations of the 4G network. 5G will change this and make mobile the platform of choice for video. 

This also further highlights the importance of making video a part of your social media analytics strategy, utilizing Talkwalker’s industry-first video recognition. 

This unique feature enables brands to uncover up to 250% more mentions than purely text-based analytics tools and provides you with the power to optimise your video marketing strategy.

Final thoughts on the 5G phenomenon 

As with all tech advancements, digital marketers will have to keep their fingers on the pulse in order to take full advantage of the new opportunities 5G will provide and to avoid being left behind.

Fundamentally, it's great for innovation that our most creative ideas may well now face less technological limitations. But, it will also be a challenge to adapt our approach to suit the new digital landscape. 

You can stay up to date with the latest trends related to 5G and any other topic on Talkwalker's Free Social Search


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