Forget The Distractions - What Marketers Really Need To Take From CES

Another year at CES -- and it’s clear that advertisers and their agencies have found a new place to meet and do business -- but for all the drones flying around, the painfully unimaginative 3D printing, sentient spoons, connected insoles and even more shiny wearables, what does this all actually mean to the industry as a whole? 

The biggest mistake we’ve made thus far is to mindlessly apply old advertising techniques to new platforms. We have to think beyond smartwatches as becoming a new place to put TV ads, and establish new behaviors and best practices towards opportunities that arise with emerging technology. The question is, what should all of this mean for advertisers and for the long term? 

1. Screens are everywhere

The future is a world of abundant screens -- from smart mirrors in our bedrooms, larger, thinner, cheaper digital retail signage, or short throw laser projections to smartwatches on our wrists, and larger-screened connected cars. We’ve been trained to think of media as a channel -- a meaningful pipe that we buy against, plan for and supply creative to. In the new world all media becomes a digital screen. We need to forget conversations about TV vs. video, digital vs. traditional, online commerce vs. brick-and-mortar. The new world consists of a pervasive, highly connective Internet and an abundance of places and platforms to distribute messages, which are all digital and are all slowly tending toward video. We may need to work around people and consumption contexts as opposed to media channels which, after all, will soon mean nothing.



2. Software is eating the world

It took phone makers 10 years to digest that our definition/understanding of hardware is not only the device but also the software, services and platforms they serve. What makes an iPhone special now isn’t storage or screens, but the OS, the app store, partnerships with banks that form Apple Pay and soon how Apple work with hotels, retailers and many other companies to make our phone our personal remote control to everything around us. We’re about to embark upon an era where two of the most important things we own -- cars and TVs -- go through the same changes. In the near future both will be vital places to access their own app stores. Cars may offer apps to find cheap gas or driving records, while TVs may push notifications, travel alerts or stock information. Marketers must be ready to pounce on the opportunities provided here. From content marketing channels to addressable TV ads to map-based advertising on GPS, the whole world of marketing is about to explode.

3. Sensors everywhere

Welcome to an age where everything -- and I mean everything -- is monitored, recorded, shared and analyzed. We’re on the edge of a massive rise in the sensors that monitor our actions and surroundings, and share that information in real-time -- from portable 3D scanners and eye-tracking systems to molecular spectrometers that measure the food we eat to wearables that track our mood and brain activity. We talk about Big Data a lot in advertising -- well, this is intimate data, and it’s amazing to think about what this could mean. How can advertisers reach people in specific mood states? How can people buy ads only when they are looked at? How can responses to packing be monitored and assessed? We have not even begun to get close to understanding Big Data, but this offers even more insights to work with.

4.  Cars as a new media environment

Self-parking cars are great, but things really become interesting for advertisers when the car becomes a new media environment. uConnect from Chrysler can read out social media updates, while regular routes from VW makes suggestions for routes based on traffic conditions -- and this is just the beginning. If we bring on an era of larger car screens, gestural controls and then later self-driving cars, our time on the road becomes a richer -- and perhaps the most mobile -- media environment we’ve ever known. From map-based advertising to sponsored routes from real-time offers to promoted directions, in-car advertising could transform from simply radio to one of the most advanced, targeted and intimate media experiences advertisers could dream of. 

5. TV is dead, long live video 

The latest range of TVs have been made with an obsessive focus on high-definition 4K content -- but amazingly, the only content supplied in this format for at least two years will be streamed online, not broadcast by any other, more traditional forms. When you combine this with the new smart TV interface and new navigation modes and recommendation engines, it’s easy to see how today’s version of TV pales in comparison to its predecessors. Now TV channels become like newscasts in the age of Twitter. We will consume more content than ever before, but curation comes down to us and clever algorithms. Soon we will search and discover content by theme, duration, social recommendations, relevance, recency and reviews, not by what a channel controller prescribes to us. In this new era, ads are placed in-stream not in-show -- and can be personalized to include new calls to action. Everything we ever thought we knew about TV ads is about to be rewritten.

6. Mobile as our first screen

For all this smartness in the world, we still need a remote to control the basic functions of our residences and devices. That management hub is increasingly becoming the mobile phone. We spend more time on our phones than ever before and this time is growing 23% per year -- and that is not a trend that’s going to change any time soon, as our phones become the remote control to our lives and the primary gateway to everything around us. 

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