In three weeks, thousands of consumer marketing executives will descend on Las Vegas for the annual Consumer Electronics Show. CES is fast becoming a must-attend annual event for the advertising/marketing and media industries. As all media and entertainment become digital, everyone in the industry must now understand and experience the latest devices people will use to receive, interact with and share media.
This year, a significant focal point of CES will be the future of the digital living room and next-generation television and video viewing experiences. We will see everything from smart, connected TVs to new set-top boxes or on-demand video streaming to “second screen” tablet and mobile devices, with applications for social TV viewing. Next-generation TV and the +$500 billion spent globally for consumer TV services and TV advertising will be center stage at CES.
That television, the dominant global advertising platform, is now becoming digital has not been lost on brand marketers, which is why so many of them will be at CES. The fact of TV’s digital transition has not been lost on TV ad and media agencies and media sellers, either -- which is why so many of them will be there as well. The big question is, who will lead the next-gen television conversations? Will it be the traditional TV folks? Or, rather, will digital media folks elbow their way into the conversations? I think that we’ll see quite a bit of the latter. Here’s why:
CES done right requires curating and translating. CES can be overwhelming, and not all of the best stuff is either easy to find, understand or easy to get into (yes, lots of velvet-roping goes on there). To do CES right, it helps to have some really smart and well-prepared veterans take you around, show you the best stuff and help you understand which and why things are important. Folks like Jack Myers, Shelly Palmer and Medialink are brilliant at this. This year, virtually all of the big agency holding companies are hosting clients and taking them around, recognizing how important CES has become.
Most TV media folks don’t have digital pedigrees yet. Most of the folks who buy and sell the billions of dollars of TV advertising transacted each year were born, trained and matured in the TV business and have virtually no digital media experience. Of course, there are exceptions. Group M’s Irwin Gottlieb was coding in the ‘60s; colleague Rob Norman led CIA’s digital efforts in the mid-‘90s, and The Weather Channel’s Mike Kelly and Beth Lawrence both have great digital advertising resumes, but most other traditional TV folks don’t.
Digital folks want a piece of TV, and they can talk the next-gen TV language. The online ad display business today is most known for ever-expanding inventory, ever-dropping CPMs. and fighting over tenths of a cent. Not so in TV advertising, where money is moved in billions of dollars, inventory capacity remains stable and prices continue to rise. The digital folks know that as TV become digital and all viewing become directly measured, much of TV advertising will be bought, sold, targeted, measured, optimized and accounted for with Web-like metrics. That is a world they know well.
I believe that we will see a lot of digital folks driving and owning the next-gen TV conversations at CES, ultimately hoping to win budgets. Their traditional TV media counterparts will be standing nearby, hoping to learn as much as they can, as fast as they can, in fear that the digital TV advertising of the future will slip away from them if they don’t. What do you think?s