CES Grows More Important To Digital Video Ad Community

What’s the biggest yearly event for digital advertising? In digital video, most people will say it’s the Newfronts. For the creative minds, it’s Cannes. Advertising Week and Internet Week will more than likely get a mention here or there.  But there’s one show that likely won’t get a lot of votes, yet may soon overshadow all of the aforementioned events in importance to the digital video ad community: CES.

The International Consumer Electronics Show used to be strictly the domain of tech-heads and gadget junkies, a place where the big electronics makers announced their latest cutting-edge technologies and the consumer press fawned over futuristic ideas that could change our lives.

While this is still the case, CES’s attendee base has changed over the past few years. Some agencies are sending more than 30 people to Las Vegas this year to meet with clients and learn how the new technologies can help with their 2013 marketing and media strategies. Internet startups are getting more floor space every year, and vendors are sending their own teams not to ogle 55-inch TVs, but to meet with the growing number of brand marketers in attendance.

For more proof, look at the Wednesday morning “Brand Matters” keynote, which focuses on marketing in the cloud. These brand marketing executives would not have gone to CES five years ago -- but now the intersection of advertising and technology is a vital programming topic, which makes CES a major event for top decision-makers.

Digital video is the key driver in CES’s importance, largely because the show focuses so much on the delivery mechanisms for watching video. Aside from new innovations like Organic LED, the major focus for TV manufacturers right now is developing smart TVs with internet connectivity. Samsung, LG and Intel are all working on TV products that focus as much on internet connectivity as they do on hooking up to traditional cable and satellite. Even Adobe is making a big push into this market with its Adobe Pass product that works with all the top TV providers.

Brands and agencies are making the trek to Las Vegas a requisite because these products are changing the way consumers interact with content. More than 21 million viewers watch an average of 12 hours of programming a week over connected TV, which is more than any other Internet-enabled device, according to a recent study. The lines between digital video platforms and TV programming are blurring, as far as consumers are concerned, and marketers can no longer ignore this shift.

Cable subscriptions are not waning as quickly as expected -- only 50,000 subscribers were lost in the third quarter last year, for example -- but a steady trickle could portend a rapid change in the market. Brands and agencies need to be ready with a TV everywhere strategy when the dam breaks.

Shows like CES should have been on the radar of big brands and agencies years ago. You can make the argument that brands have not invested as much in digital because they simply weren’t prepared for the audience proliferation caused by the emergence of new devices and video consumption platforms.  While certain brands have chosen to remain stagnant in their approach to video marketing, proactive brands, agencies and publishers are getting the necessary technology education and investing ahead of the audience migrations.