Think of 5G as revolutionary foundational tech: Nikhil Rungta, Verizon Media

Nikhil Rungta, Country Manager, India Verizon Media, says 5G will unlock new creative realities led by immersive experiences to redefine brand relationships with consumers

e4m by Nafisa Shaheen
Published: Sep 21, 2020 9:15 AM  | 6 min read
Nikhil Rungta

The recent news of Jio announcing a homegrown 5G solution in India got advertisers and brands drawn to the growing interest in the potential of 5G and what it would lead to. With AR, VR and AI technologies gaining importance by the day, 5G is said to prove to be hugely disruptive for brands and digital advertisers.

In this context, exchange4media spoke to Nikhil Rungta, Country Manager, India Verizon Media, on the revolutionary applications of 5G tech for brands & marketers, and why brands have to start thinking about 5G now.

5G - a game-changer for advertisers & brands

Rungta says a new wireless generation has pushed the boundaries of what is possible in digital advertising. With 4G we got video ads and programmatic but 5G will go far beyond incremental change — it will be a giant leap. “Think of 5G as revolutionary foundational tech, and what it will allow or enable by scaling technologies like Augmented Reality (AR), Virtual Reality (VR) and AI for mass consumption,” said Rungta. 5G connectivity will supercharge video and immersive experiences, he said. “In the future when you want to compare cars before buying one, it may not require frequent visits to a car dealership or scrolling through flat photos online. Walk into your driveway or garage, digitally place a car and then use your phone to explore the car and its features. You could virtually test drive a car through VR or see how it looks at scale parked in your driveway with AR. With almost no lag time, the user experience will be phenomenal — 5G speeds mainstreaming such data-heavy digital experiences.”

5G will unlock new creative realities led by immersive experiences - the kind that has the power to redefine brand relationships with consumers, Rungta added. “In this increasingly virtual world we live in, marketers will have an endless canvas with 5G to innovative with ad experiences that are exciting and relevant to customers, to offer more opportunities for streamlined, connected advertising messages that are delivered when and where it is most useful to consumers.”

Innovations & Possibilities
The Verizon Media Country Head also put the spotlight on the possibilities and innovations that will be open for marketers with the influx of 5G services in India by next year. “With 5G, advertisers will be able to bring alive truly next-gen digital experiences. While 5G is still around the corner in India, in other markets, advertisers are already harnessing the possibilities. We recently launched ‘Verizon Media Immersive’, the largest online XR platform for advertising and content powered by 5G globally. From AR to VR and Mixed Reality (MR), this platform is allowing advertisers to create and scale one-of-a-kind experiences by seamlessly connecting the physical and digital world, allowing for 3D visualization of products and customer interaction with ads. Creators are utilizing cutting-edge formats ranging from volumetric capture, consumer MEC, motion capture and more.”

He further said that 5G will bring innovation possibilities across the board for marketers. “Next-gen native ads will become more immersive with interactive 360-degree experiences or take streaming as an opportunity. Besides improved viewing, advertisers will also be able to run more seamlessly alongside streaming content. 5G will also accelerate emerging channels such as DOOH and CTV that will benefit from the power, potential for elevated creativity and low latency of 5G.”

Storytelling with 5G
Storytelling is currently a 2D proposition, Rungta said. What 5G will do is allow brands and consumers to shift from a 2D digital world to a 3D digital world — a trend consumers are clearly going to love. According to Rungta millennials and Gen Z users in India, driven by social media apps, are already using XR in photo-enhancing filters and face-distorting lenses and cannot get enough of it. He says another shift will come from the interactivity and how brands can draw consumers into an experience. “Today we ‘watch’ videos. But with 5G, audiences will transition from ‘watching’ to ‘interacting’ — think about all the interactive experiences possible during a major launch or campaign. Advertisers will be able to rethink how to grow a customer’s involvement and engagement through greater interactivity with 5G.”

5G for more personalized solutions?
Rungta believes that with connected devices marketers will be able to understand consumers better and tailor personalized solutions more effectively. “5G will bring 100x more connected devices that will lead to a stronger data proposition. This will be a powerful guide for marketers to understand what consumers want, when they need it delivered, and serve genuine consumer needs through personalized experiences at scale, in real-time. In a 5G future, brands would be able to customize millions of interactive experiences, based on every individual consumer’s unique preferences,” he added.

Solve post-Covid challenges
Explaining about the shift to online, Rungta spoke about the three major trends escalated amidst this shift. “The first is a hunger for unique experiences. With streaming and mobile video products getting a huge lift in India through the pandemic, new audiences are seeking out new and enhanced experiences. The second trend is the rising demand for differentiated content. Content creators now need to stand out, and XR can offer a way to do so. Finally, we are seeing brands adopting new strategies to better connect with consumers in a socially distanced world. In categories such as home decor that previously depended on in-person contact and in-store experience, investing in AR experiences can provide an effective alternative, so a customer goes from browsing to buying even in a lockdown. When mobility is restricted, you can stand in your living room and — through an AR ad experience — digitally place a sofa in the room, seeing how it looks at scale.”

“Normally, the wedding season would be a busy time in India. But now, brides may not want to risk stepping into a store or mall. With AR experiences, they can still try on clothes, make up, and accessories like jewellery, to see the product 3D from every angle and get a fairly close idea of how it looks on them. There’s immense utility and convenience there. 5G has the potential to change shopping as we know it in the post-COVID world,” concluded Rungta.

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