The annual Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas is one of THE seismographs for technology trends and innovations in the field. But after a pandemic-related hiatus, the event now faced serious societal issues such as war and inflation. Jay Krihak, Executive Director Crossmedia New York, has summarized in three short recaps how the current socio-political climate shaped this year’s CES and which technologies will be of particular importance to our industry.
Day 1: Uncertainty & Perspectives
A whirlwind of a day, taking me from the Convention Center to a number of hotels, suites, conference centers and meet up areas (mainly bars). Definitely hit my steps goal for the week already.
What I found in my travels, conversations and presentations was a few consistent trends that align with the CTA’s opening remarks on Wednesday about what to expect.
To start, there’s plenty of uncertainty regarding the economic outlook for 2023. Rising rates, inflationary pressures and a 10 million shortfall in employment will do that to any economy. Every conversation touched on it though that’s not what kept people up at night here in Las Vegas.
With that as a backdrop, the need for enablement technology has never been greater, helping in the following ways:
- Productivity gains that technologies bring offset both inflationary pressures and people gaps.
- Automation and AI are key drivers of enablement this year, improving speed and growing capacity at lower cost.
- Security threats have never been greater, meaning more and redundant protective measures will be the norm, and not just for businesses.
- Digital experiences will accelerate the shift to immersion. Yes, that’s the metaverse, but things like health tech will benefit from more always-on data collection and interpretation.
- Sustainability is a mention, not a focus. The tools continue to improve, but the mission remains a low priority.
From a marketer perspective, it means three areas need exploration early and often in 2023:
- Automation & AI are necessary. ChatGPT has proven highly useful in a very short time. However, the questions about rights, legality and morality need better and clearer answers than have been provided thus far.
- Immersive experiences will be the norm, especially for younger generations. Adding sensory or meaning layers to your experiences are what’s expected by the consumer.
- So much data is collected all the time. Are you sure proper consent is in place to allow for collection and use? No brand should be fined for improper policies and/or opt-out execution. CPRA readiness will be the ultimate test in early 2023.
Day 2: Immersion, Yes. Inclusion, Not Nearly Enough.
After touring the floor and attending sessions at the Convention Center, it was clear that consumer and automotive technology are pushing for more immersive experiences. Sony and Honda showed off a car, loaded with screens, always connected and includes all the latest gadgets. Lots of eyewear for metaverse entry. Everywhere you looked, there was some amazing technology to deepen or enable a new or elevated form of digital engagement.
So yes, the future will be about more immersive experiences, powered by thinner, wearable devices and sensors for data collection, improving everything from mental health care to travel to shopping. Marketers, therefore, must take notice as younger generations will grow up expecting more than some flat, 2D experience. Trying, planning and other toe-dips are more than enough at this stage as the foundation gets rebuilt for Web 3.0 and beyond.
But what is not talked enough about is who will have access to this great new technological world of new-wave devices, gadgets and tech experience upgrades. The answer, simply put, is people with means. This tech isn’t cheap and requires connectivity that is promised by 5G and super-duper broadband. Just based on those elements, we are a ways off from inclusivity.
The other threat to inclusivity is AI. There must be a more dedicated effort by companies to steward AI away from bias and discrimination, especially for sensitive use cases. Unless that happens, the separation of have’s and have-not’s will continue to widen.
Day 3 – The Three C’s: CTV, Creators and Colloquialism
The days are long, but the week is short, here at CES. Hard to believe this is it, but looking forward to heading home.
Unlike Day 2 at the LVCC, all of Day 3 was spent in the realm of Marketers in and around the Aria conference center. Though a theme of the week has been CTV, more time was spent today hearing more about how complicated CTV as a channel is. At its core, the issue is ad tech got its hands on CTV first – not the networks – and have overcomplicated what should be as simple and standardized as TV is/has been.
The amount of jargon about targeting, tech stacks, measurement and so on represents all the things we have struggled with in Programmatic Display for 20 years. None of that learning has gone into CTV, and even worse, there’s so little transparency and even less granularity in inventory that you mostly don’t know what you’re buying in open exchange. Even in private deals, you’re often getting aggregate info that impressions delivered, not knowing what device or format you’ve bought, and all those limits make insights and optimization impossible.
What happened to knowing the program, the time of day, where in the program my ads ran and the ratings (impressions, reach, etc.) I earned? Why is that not the standard for TV in all its forms? Why is that not demanded by the marketplace? The answer is that brands need to make partner decisions up front, build to your requirements and then execute. Take ownership of transparency and know what you’re buying. The only way you can truly trust the system is if you build it yourself.
To that end, places like YouTube offer a complement to CTV in that a lot is long form video, it’s predictable and it’s driven by and through trusted and loved creators. Like CTV, it needs vetting and curation for sure, as well as a built-it-yourself approach to complement YouTube’s platform tools. And why is this so important? Because there’s a ton of scale created by creators. For so many people – especially Millennials & Gen Z – it’s where they go, all the time, for their prime time entertainment. They trust the creators, they support them through Patreon and merch, and they filled up a mall in NJ when Mr. Beast was there to open a new burger joint. It’s more than entertainment to them. Creators reflect who they are – and brands need to participate, not just take notice.