Unveiling the Future At CES '24: Privacy Reigns, Platforms Rise, and Brands Reset

The future will be written at this year’s CES 2024. It should come as no surprise that AI is going to be everywhere and will continue to demonstrate why it deserves the hype it has been getting over the last year. However, beyond AI, there are three top emerging themes that should not be overlooked. Expect privacy to explode from a niche topic to center stage, demanding new tactics. Disruptive computing platforms foretelling the next major era of computing lurk around the corner, blurring the digital/physical barrier with headsets and ubiquitous tech. And every company, from Walmart to your local bakery, are utilizing digital tools like never before. This year’s CES isn't just highlighting the latest tech advancement, it is a gateway to the future. Are you ready?   



Privacy Becomes A Central Theme For The First Time  

Data exhaust isn't just a technical term anymore. Consumers are alarmed by their digital footprints, while platforms enable protections such as cookie deprecation and app tracking transparency. The generative AI boom is only fueling the fire, while health-tech data and TV’s shifting landscape add additional fuel. Even the family car has become a computer on wheels capable of tracking all manner of data and behaviors. This rapidly evolving privacy topic will have a profound impact on traditional digital marketing mechanisms. Consequently, advertisers are needing to strike a better balance between personalization and privacy, focusing on probabilistic rather than deterministic tactics and cohort-level targeting rather than 1:1. While privacy has become a recurring theme at CES, 2024 marks a turning point. As consumer attention reaches critical mass, privacy takes center stage, demanding attention from all stakeholders.   

Implications for Agencies: The need to transform common digital practices is already on the minds of most agencies. When considering tech announcements and demos coming from the show floor grill vendors on their privacy plans: compliance, AI black boxes, data sources. Don't fall for the "AI magic" facade. Leverage resources like the 4A’s/CIMM paper on Privacy and Future of TV Advertising and we encourage the adoption of the recommended “heatmap” tool of expected viability of advertising solutions and technologies in the face of privacy shifts. Proactive agencies will navigate the shifting privacy landscape and conquer the new digital future. 

Disruptive Platforms Emerge: A Glimpse At The Next Era Of Computing 

At MacWorld in 2007, Steve Jobs unveiled the original iPhone. Despite thousands of tech announcements coming from exhibitors at CES, the iPhone was the talk of the show - and with good reason. It launched the modern smartphone revolution and changed everything. History tells us disruptive platforms, like the iPhone, emerge every 15-20 years. As this mobile era nears an end, CES 2024 promises a glimpse into the next phase driven by a confluence of technologies. Many consider Head-Mounted Displays (HMDs) like Meta's Quest series and Apple's forthcoming Vision Pro to be leading candidates for the next breakthrough device. Look for spatial photo announcements, and a glimpse of the future beyond bulky headsets. Meta’s second-generation Ray Ban glasses are rolling out AI-powered features that can see and interpret the world around the user. And, in a surprising twist, Central Hall, once dominated by large booths from Intel, Microsoft, Qualcomm and others, will feature a gaming & metaverse playground.   

But HMDs aren't alone. There are other platforms that are vying to be that next big thing. Ubiquitous computing ("ubicomp") is emerging as another contender. Devices like Humane's AI Pin exemplify this seamless integration of technology into our environment. The company won't be exhibiting at CES but the device is due to ship "in early 2024." Expect other companies, large and small, to reveal other types of ubicomp devices at CES.   

Implications for agencies: The next major computing paradigm is on the horizon. AI and Generative AI are part of the equation to be sure, but new platforms like HMDs and ubicomp are blurring lines between reality and tech. The combination of these technologies will be the real conference disrupters. Dive deep into these building blocks—spatial computing, voice-driven devices—they're not sci-fi anymore. Craft learning roadmaps, experiment, and recognize that CES will enable agencies to figure out: how will brands connect with audiences in this brave new world?   

Every Company Is A Tech Company 

For years, companies have shattered the myth that CES is only for tech giants. This year will be no different; buzzing with the digital transformations of non-tech titans. Leading the charge is Walmart, with a sprawling booth likely showcasing their Amazon-rivalling retail media network, innovative in-store payment system, click-n-collect and other digital / physical integrations. The retail giant is also sponsoring the CES app and CEO Doug McMillon will deliver a keynote – as a way to announce to the world that they are serious about making technology a core part of their business.   

Implications for agencies: There is a very real and widening expectation gap between what consumers want and what most brands can deliver. Focus on how technology can create seamless experiences and remove friction from the customer journey.   

CES 2024 will ultimately show us that the future is closer than you think. The tech innovations that will be showcased have the potential to rewrite the rules, redefine value, and reshape how brands connect with audiences who barely recognize yesterday's "cutting edge."   

So, the question is this: Will your agency be ahead of the tech game? Or lost in the background? If you are ready to help shape the future, CES 2024 will provide a roadmap. 




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