CES Showcases Tech, Relevance For Marketers Unclear

LAS VEGAS - While plenty of consumer electronics products continue to be revealed at the Consumer Electronics Show, what they mean for marketers can still be a mystery.

The lack of media and marketing vision can be a problem, says John Muszynski, chief investment officer for Starcom MediaVest Group’s Spark Communications. Marketers want to know how products can make for better communications and connections.

That said, he readily admits: “This isn’t an advertising forum -- this is CES.” Still, Shazam, the music identification mobile app, was one of the few CES exhibitors that did stand out in this area. “They give you ideas for how they would help marketers,” Muszynski says.

Chris Boothe, CEO of Spark, gave high marks for some new place-based advertising platforms, such as Qualcomm efforts at Miami’s Sun Life Stadium.

For example, season ticket holders can be alerted with certain messages on smartphones -- everything from deals on food, jerseys and products to alerts on where shorter concession stands and in-stadium stores lines are available.

CES product manufacturers at the big Las Vegas event continue to inch forward on connectivity -- everything from refrigerators that can talk to your smartphones to Bluetooth toothbrushes.

But for the most part, Irwin Gotlieb, global chairman of Group M, who led a CES tour, noted that one key missing ingredient is in looking at the bigger picture: “What are the implications?” he asks of these products. Other companies are just plain missing. While CES continues to attract a large crowd from a wide area of media and marketing industries, Gotlieb says two big players, Google and Apple, are nowhere to be found as CES exhibitors.

Key players of consumer electronics past have made big comebacks in recent years, says Gotlieb, such as Sony -- which now leads in many cutting-edge technologies, including professional TV-film production to its state-of-the-art digital technology in movie theaters.

Many new 4K TV screens were on display at this year’s CES, including one 8K TV, which roughly delivers eight times the quality of current HDTV sets.

But Gotlieb says current video bandwidth constraints could cause problems for these new sets -- noting, for example, that Netflix usage can suck up to 30% of the U.S. bandwidth for just 1% of the population. He says: “4K is going to put pressure on this.”

The whole idea of a set-top box with DVR storage capabilities are changing. For example, TiVo is offering new network DVRs -- units that can store video content for cable, satellite and telco operators, eliminating the need for many home-based DVR units.

Jeff Klugman, executive vice president/general manager of products and revenue for TiVo, says new network DVR units can be used in many configurations, depending on the needs of pay TV providers and their TV network programmers partners. This includes storing unique copies of content for consumers; offering an archive of TV and movie programming content; or as the backbone for video-on-demand services; among other formats.

In talking up the product’s business prospects, Klugman says: “Ultimately, given the opportunity and given the reduction and the need to put expensive CPE [customer-premises equipment] in the home, it will be cheaper to consolidate storage and use the cloud. Second, you can offer it to any device -- a set-top box, a DVR, a Roku box, a smart TV, an iPad. Once you have full network DVR capability, you have a whole home multiscreen solution.&rdquo



2 comments about "CES Showcases Tech, Relevance For Marketers Unclear ".
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  1. Jonathan Tavss from Scarlet Strategic, January 10, 2014 at 11:44 a.m.

    A lot of what you point out is in the main halls of CES and what is shown there does not always translate to what would work in the real world. After a number of years attending CES as a marketer and a producer of immersive tech solutions, I appreciate the concept that there's a lot shown in CES that acts just like concept cars unveiled at auto shows. Those give a vision of what could be in the future - some make it to the real world and some don't.

    Sure, I love seeing curved OLED TVs that look phenomenal and will most likely never get into more than a handful of homes. Or 4K/8K content that will mostly be filled with up-rez 1080P content because too few content providers produce 4K content. The same could be said for 3D and gesture-based navigation of TVs and Appliances.

    As a marketer, where I think the value of CES lies is in providing a vision of the ways we'll be able to communicate and interact with consumers in the future. What should probably be covered as a benefit for marketers is not just the main halls, but the other halls with smaller firms and innovation. While I did see some great stuff as part of the larger booths - like Samsung, Sony and DTS - I find great benefit in checking out the small booths in the outlying halls. There, I've found providers selling technology that lets marketers embed postage-stamp LCD displays in magazines that loop video spots. Or, the Asian company that utilizes light (either an actual ceiling light or an LCD TV's backlight) to trigger interactions with smartphones or more without Bluetooth, NFC or RFID. In CES' innovation halls (named Eureka Park) I was able to chat with makers of a system that projects video on mist AND allows interaction with it by touch the mist screen. And there are so many vendors offering cost-effective technology items for use as promotional items beyond a branded pen, cooler or USB thumb drive.

    Certainly, much of these things are not ready for prime time. But, with the help of a marketer and a visionary campaign or use case, there is an opportunity for partnerships that can bring the technology into the real world - and create a future slam dunk for the marketer.

  2. Thorsten Linz from FCB Chicago, January 11, 2014 at 7:43 p.m.

    Thanks Jonathan, I could not agree more with your statements. Most of the technologies in North and South Halls are pure concepts. Just three years ago all big consumer electronic companies jumped on the 3DTV band wagon but look where we stand today. 3DTV is still a concept because it was developed from a technology point of view - but without a consumers perspective and check book in mind. The same applies for the entire driverless automotive discussion. I was giving a tour at the car tech section to one of my automotive clients. He said that he is very impressed of what is happening but at the end is still concept only. "In order to really get us into driverless cars we would have to get rid of the current infrastructure and rebuild it from the ground up. And neither federal nor state government will be able to fund this." And this again, demonstrates that CES is great show to kick-off concepts.

    And yes, on the other side Eureka Park was great. The Internet of Things really came to life there. In form of how to control your pets and to water your plants. These two companies - among the many other companies at Eureka Park - have tangible and affordable products which offer a clear consumer benefit without spending an arm and a leg.

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