Mobile phones are central to our digital lives, so any improvement in mobile-related technology is cause for excitement and anticipation - like 5G. In light of this, ironSoure Aura was interested in people’s perception of 5G and how it affects their device experience.

In the survey of 10,000 device owners across the US, ironSource Aura found that many customers don’t fully understand the benefits of 5G, let alone the benefits on their current phones with 4G. The lack of awareness surrounding 5G highlights an important opportunity for advertisers looking to reach users on 5G ready phones. Here are the key findings: 

  • 78% expect 5G technology to be better than 4G, but 95% don’t know which 4G benefits are already available on their devices today. 
  • Over 70% express a willingness to pay for the new technology (with payment used as a proxy for perceived value).
  • 71% find faster download important as a 5G benefit
  • Respondents don’t understand the terms “connectivity”, “capacity”, and “latency” and attribute relatively low value to these benefits

Now, let’s dive into 4 ways advertisers can optimize their 5G strategy. 

1. Consider the demographics of 5G vs. 4G users

Running ads on 5G phones, you’re reaching a unique set of users with a different demographic representation than 4G users - meaning you can’t have a one size fits all approach to your strategy. That said, because there are different types of users running on the mobile networks, you can get a better idea of whether your audience is more active on 4G or 5G enabled phones. If the users commonly on 5G don’t have the same demographics as your audience, it may be best to stick with 4G advertising. 

One of our survey questions asked about the impact of 5G on daily life - 78% of respondents believe that 5G will be better than 4G. While excitement is high, a closer look at demographics revealed that enthusiasm for the new technology varies by age, income, and household size, which signifies who is likely to adopt 5G early on. For example, older respondents place less value on 5G, as the majority of the 55+ group either don’t value the benefits of 5G or don’t know what they are. Higher-income consumers also value 5G more - 54% of those who think that 5G will be better than 4G have an income of $71K or higher. Last, in households with 4 or more people, 47% of the respondents think that 5G will be better than 4G. Conversely, in households with only 1-2 people, 35% of the respondents think that 5G will be better than 4G. Family households are more excited about 5G over 4G. 

Younger consumers, those living in family households, and higher-income consumers place more value on 5G, which means they’ll have the technology earlier on. If these demographics match your audience, advertising on 5G enabled phones is a good idea. On the other hand, if your audience is older, lower-income and single, you may want to keep your focus on 4G until the new generation is fully rolled out. 

You also want to consider the types of ads you show to 5G users compared to 4G users, especially considering these users value different things. 

2. Adjust your creatives for 5G users 

5G users are unique in terms of how they engage with devices, which can help you tailor your ads to what they’re most excited about. 5G offers multiple tangible benefits, such as downloading a 2-hour long HD movie in about 18 minutes, live streaming a concert or live event to friends or family uninterrupted in HD, or low latency gaming with 30-50 millisecond ping. Why is adjusting your ads to meet users interests especially important for 5G compared to 4G? 

From downloading movies and music to live streaming and gaming, there’s a strong correlation between user interest and willingness to pay for 5G. Users who have a clear interest in gaming, entertainment, and live streaming are more likely to be willing to pay for 5G technology (92%) and get a 5G ready phone early on compared to the overall average (81%). 

If your app is not an entertainment, streaming or gaming app, you can still adjust your creatives to appeal to those interests. For example, you can gamify your ads by making them playable and interactive. You can also show short, detailed videos, or films, about your app to appeal to users interested in entertainment. If your app is a gaming, entertainment, or streaming app, you can share how your app is compatible with 5G considering your users will be more interested in the technology - but this isn’t necessarily the case for all users. More on that later. 

With all of the new updates with 5G, there’s also a huge opportunity to get creative with your ads and innovate with new benefits.

3. Serve ads that leverage 5G benefits

5G enables advertisers to design more innovative and immersive creatives, enabling users to engage with ads in unique ways. Specifically, the technology promises more connectivity, less latency, faster download, and greater capacity. You’re missing out by not putting time and resources into improving your ad quality and creativity leveraging these benefits. 

In fact, 78% of respondents expect 5G technology to be better than 4G and 70% express a willingness to pay for the benefits of 5G. This means that when users see their first ad on 5G, they may expect it to be optimized with the benefits, creating a positive experience.  

Less latency opens up countless opportunities to create real, immersive on-device ad experiences. You can show full screen ads that allow users to see what a character or product looks like in different environments that you can design and adjust directly from the creative. You can also use VR to show a 360-degree view of a gaming or social world. With greater capacity, ads can also come in many different audio and video formats. For example, you can allow users to stream tons of content from your ad, such as audiobooks or files. 

There is immense untapped potential of 5G technology, and you should be dedicated to finding new ways to engage users with your ads. Keep in mind, this doesn’t mean you should fill your ads with confusing 5G terminology.

4. Don’t talk about the 5G benefits

Unless your users are highly interested in gaming, entertainment or streaming as mentioned above, it’s better to not overflow your ads with 5G terminology or explanations of the technology. In fact, doing so could have a harmful effect on your engagement. This is because, despite the anticipation of the upcoming 5G rollout, there is a lack of understanding of the key benefits of the new technology. 

Most device owners don’t understand the terms “connectivity”, “capacity”, and “latency” and attribute relatively low value to these benefits, perhaps because of a lack of understanding. On top of that, only 5% of respondents realize what’s already available on their phones with 4G technology. 

This means you should be careful about how you discuss 5G in your ads - you don’t want to push users away by confusing them. If you plan to talk about 5G, be sure to explain the benefits in terms that are more relatable. For example, say “time it takes to download” instead of “latency,” and “amount of space” instead of capacity. You also want to explain the benefits in context, in terms of mobile gaming, for example. 


5G represents a massive opportunity for your on-device advertising strategy, but you don’t want to dive in head first without understanding some key differences compared to 4G. With some key insights into demographic differences, user interests, and awareness of 5G benefits, you can be better equipped to reach 5G ready phones effectively. Read the report.

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