Influencer marketing: 5G helps next-gen creators level up

By: Francesca Sobande, Ph.D.

As the influencer marketing world becomes more crowded—and our attention becomes more valuable—creators are looking at new ways to drive engagement.

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Influencer Marketing

The influencer marketing industry sits at the intersection of the attention economy and the creator economy, as influencers create content to capture audience attention and help create brand awareness and engagement. And influencers are increasingly valuable: The industry is projected to reach a value of $16.4B in 2022, a nearly 60% increase since 2020

Content created by influencers is wide-ranging—from viral music and shopping haul videos to social media threads and memes that can make or break brands. At the core of this booming industry are marketing and branding strategies based on the work of individuals with an influential digital presence on platforms such as Instagram, TikTok, Twitter and YouTube. Influencers are driving revenue in many ways, including through brand partnerships and their ability to cultivate a sense of connection and trust with their audience.

That cultivation is the key to maintaining attention. After all, our attention is finite, but the information and competition for that attention is limitless. To sustain relationships with audiences, influencers need to produce impactful and interactive work which cuts through cluttered newsfeeds and distracting background noise. Their end product must appear effortlessly engaging, but its creation is the outcome of time, resources and cutting-edge technology.

Today, 5G technology is shaping the future of influencer marketing and its impact in the attention economy.

Trust: Based on personalization, precision and performance

Influencer marketing is based on a simple truth: Consumers follow influencers they trust, and avoid those they do not.

Key to influencers’ building and maintaining trust is understanding who follows them and why, and 5G is providing more ways for influencers to both reach and learn about their audiences. As 5G becomes more widespread, more individuals will have access to the higher speeds and low latency that it provides. And this means more opportunity for engagement with high-quality, interactive video and mixed-reality experiences while on the go—which is part of what’s fueling the ongoing 10% year-over-year growth in the number of monthly augmented reality users. We’ve already seen some first-step examples of how 5G can impact music; for influencers, experiences fueled by 5G can drive engagement while also providing broader and deeper data sets about how, where and when users are interacting with content.

The advantages can be especially useful to influencers focused on hyperlocal content—including micro- influencers and nano-influencers, whose follower counts may be modest but whose engagement rates are highly competitive. 5G’s high speed and low latency allow for near-real-time and location-specific data to be transferred and analyzed quickly, so influencers can better react to audience behaviors. This can be particularly useful when live streaming from events or when interacting with users from dynamic locations.

Events: Immersive, interactive and immediate

The first-ever 5G-enabled Landmarker Lens was launched by Verizon and Snap Inc. in 2020, highlighting how 5G can take entertainment and events to the next level. Using augmented reality (AR) and powered by Verizon 5G Ultra Wideband, the Lens delivered a musical performance by psychedelic soul band Black Pumas at the New York Public Library.

The capabilities of 5G can contribute to a step change in influencer-driven events, including expos, which can become more accessible, immersive and interactive by embracing the AR and virtual reality (VR) supported by 5G.

By offering new and adaptive modes of engagement, influencers can harness 5G-enabled, blended forms of online and in-person communication to widen the audience for their events. Think onsite installations and artwork that connect to digital communities who can alter and play with the location’s aesthetics in ways that were once unimaginable, with near-real-time response due to high speeds and low latency. And platforms such as TikTok, which are crucial to many influencers’ success, have increased the maximum length of video uploads, making high speeds and reliability even more important.

Ultimately, 5G carries advantages that can help support the aspirations of influencers who seek to secure many real-time connections with audiences across different platforms and places.

Ethics: The future of influencer marketing

5G is set to play a pivotal role in the development of emerging technologies that could lead to new ways for influencers to produce and promote content. The future of influencer marketing will also undoubtedly be impacted by other digital developments. These include the expansion of lifelike, computer-generated imagery (CGI) influencers, which have already sparked much debate about who and what “real” influencers are.

Many brands are grappling with the problems and possibilities presented by CGI influencers, and they are finding that influencer marketing is enabled by technology but not solely driven by it. Consumers’ common desire to be treated like people, rather than numbers, may not be met by CGI influencers if their creators focus on technological trends more than focusing on humans.

While the future of CGI influencers versus human influencers remains to be determined, one thing seems clear: Influencer marketing is here to stay, and with advances in technology, like 5G, the opportunities it creates for these creators can help them continue to evolve—and continue to capture our attention.

Learn more about how 5G is impacting media and entertainment.

About the author:

Francesca is a Lecturer in Digital Media Studies at the School of Journalism, Media and Culture (JOMEC), Cardiff University. She is Director of the BA Media, Journalism and Culture programme, and is Communications Co-Chair of the Race in the Marketplace (RIM) Research Network. Francesca’s research has been published in a range of international journals such as Marketing Theory, European Journal of Marketing, Journal of Consumer Research, and Television & New Media. Her website is


The author has been compensated by Verizon for this article.

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