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As 2020 begins, all the major wireless carriers now have some kind of 5G. This is going to impact more than just your data plan. 5G will also change the future for digital out of home.

5G stands for fifth generation, and each generation of wireless has gotten more sophisticated. The advent of 5G essentially means you can connect to a lot more devices at the same time. It is more responsive and has insanely fast data speed. Bottom line: Everything moves faster and connects better.

And this will be revolutionary for advertising. It’s a big deal for mobile advertising, of course. But it also impacts outdoor. Here are seven ways digital OOH advertising will change during the dawning 5G era.

1. Expand Personalized Communication Options

Lexus BillboardWith 5G, your phone will become a mini data server. It will process things so quickly, you will no longer have that split second of reaction time when you use the internet. This allows advertisers to become more sophisticated in their targeting, and it also sets up the possibility of more customized personal communications.

Advertisers will be able to target messaging from beacons and other digital devices associated with out of home advertising. By offering ads their audience is more likely to be interested in, advertisers accomplish three important things:

  1. They spend less money.
  2. They break through the clutter with messages that will matter.
  3. They only target people likely to respond to their products.

2. Two-Way Communication

With the deployment of 5G, brands can suddenly have conversations with their target audience instead of making everything one way. Vendors will use 5G to send video to their digital billboards, and in some cases those messages will become reactive.
The board will react based on signaling, and different people will see different messages depending on the time of day and what’s going on around them. Again, that gives the brand the opportunity to target its message only to people who might be responsive.

3. More Current Information

Digital billboards’ biggest advantage has been their fluidity. They can change information quickly compared to traditional billboards, where the same message stays up for weeks.

Dodgers BillboardNow that time period’s going to get a whole lot faster. With 5G, advertisers can change their posts almost instantly, giving them a lot more leeway in what they put up. Imagine real-time messaging that updates the score of a basketball game every time the score flips, for example. Or a board that shows the number of tickets available to a popular movie playing at a nearby theater in real time.

These types of displays create an urgency around advertising that makes it feel more personal and important. When you see something happen in front of you, it becomes more exciting.

4. Impressive Augmented Reality Powers

Augmented reality has already become a part of out of home. But 5G will increase its capabilities, making more things possible. AR requires a lot of virtual horsepower, and 5G gives it the legs.

Imagine you want to create something that looks more like a video game than a traditional billboard. 5G provides the power to create that setup. While you have to use this power carefully — not every billboard needs to be or should be so elaborate — it does make for an eye-catching display. The key to creating something great is using AR judiciously and to deliver a memorable point vs. just showing off for kicks. Cool ideas include AR based on:

  • Current weather
  • Time of day
  • Whether a local sports team won the previous night

5. Elaborate Campaigns Become More Accessible

Imagine the biggest, most over-the-top DOOH campaign you’ve ever seen. Now imagine that’s not a once-in-a-budgetary-blue-moon thing but rather an every-Thursday thing. Utilizing 5G capabilities is like turning into a superhero. Things that once seemed impossible become everyday. Scaling campaigns will become possible because it will no longer be cost-prohibitive.
This can open doors for smaller advertisers, too, who may have found earlier iterations of DOOH out of their price range. When technology evolves, pricing drops, allowing more advertisers to step up to the platform.

Mustang_Billboard_LA_16. A Notable Rise in Quality

When you can tap into 5G, you can deliver better graphics, better reaction time, better everything, and this will improve every campaign. We’re a long way from the early days of DOOH, when graphics often glitched or looked blurry. But there’s always room for growth, and the fast speeds of 5G will take delivery up a notch.

Anything that makes an advertiser look better is worth consideration. Digital out of home’s unique form of message delivery always made it stand apart, but 5G also gives advertisers a distinct boost in perception. Brands want to be associated with platforms that make them look progressive and smart, and 5G will accelerate that rush.

7. Turnaround Time on Creative Will Drop

Kobe_Legend_BillboardOne of the advantages of adding 5G will be the ability for advertisers to make split-second decisions. For instance, when Kobe Bryant passed away suddenly, many brands wanted to pay respects to the iconic basketball player, but getting the creative in place in a timely manner proved challenging.

With 5G, digital billboards will gain the ability for almost instantaneous turnarounds on creative. In just a couple of hours, boards can add relevant, and in this case poignant, content that speaks to what’s happening in the world. It can work for a sale, a change in venue for a big event—whenever advertisers need to get critical information to their customers in a timely manner. Advertisers could also speed up when their ads are shown. For example, if a brand has ads targeted at basketball fans outside Staples Center and the Lakers game ends earlier than expected, the time those ads show up can be changed instantaneously.

The rollout of 5G will take time, as it’s incredibly expensive. In fact, Sprint and T-Mobile say it’s so expensive they can’t do it unless they merge. While the government wades through that argument, check your phone to see if 5G has arrived in your pocket yet. And when it does, prepare to be inundated. Advertisers can’t wait for the 5G period to begin.

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