Live from CES Day 1: Top Takeaways & Words of Wisdom for Marketers

Connected cars, artificial intelligence and wearables. Oh my!

These are just a few of the words we’ve had buzzing in our ears since we boarded our flight to Las Vegas for the 50th annual Consumer Electronics Show.

If there’s one thing CES reinforces each year, it’s that the world is changing. While we never miss a chance to wade through the showroom floor crowds to see what’s catching people’s attention, we’re here because we want to know what implications today’s tech innovation will have on consumer behavior. As marketers, it’s our job to understand our audience and find the most relevant and seamless ways to reach them. CES is one of the rare opportunities for technology, brands and consumers to come together.

So far, the conference has delivered on its promise to bring us lots of innovative announcements and dazzling gadget reveals. Here’s the five things every marketer should take away from CES day one:

1. Millennials & The Connected Home
Connected home devices are making a huge splash at CES 2017, indicating that the promise of a house that greets you with an actual “hello” when you arrive is finally within reach for the average consumer. The answer to why it took so long lies in today’s home ownership trends. According to research presented by GfK, “older” Millennials (ages 27-35) are currently leading the charge for first-time home buyers. Even among “younger” Millennials, 4 out of 10 say that saving for a home is their main financial goal right now. While it may surprise you that the generation who broke every other rule is falling in-line with the single most, timeworn American dream–it’s not surprising that they’re bringing their propensity for connectivity with them. If marketers want to continue a conversation with this influential group, they’ll need to look to the connected home to do so.

2. Alexa. Period.
If CES decided to crown a homecoming queen this year, Alexa would win…hands down! This has been a breakout conference for the Amazon Echo and it’s helpful personality, Alexa. Although Amazon doesn’t have an official presence, the CES showroom floor is littered with Alexa integrations. But what does this mean for marketers? If personal assistant-type technology is going to control everything from turning on the lights to adjusting your car’s air conditioner, then we have to imagine it will also have a say in the content we consume. According to Rob Norman, Global Chief Digital Officer at GroupM, “AI is going to demand a better story from brand owners.” Marketers not only need to think about the quality and relevancy of their messages, but also the discoverability if they want Alexa to surface their content.

3. VR or AR? That is the question.
While augmented and virtual reality continue to offer the most cutting-edge tech at CES, it was a conversation about the marketer implications that caught a room-full of attention at the “Brand Marketers Leap into Virtual Reality” session. Jennifer Van Dijk, the Chief Strategy Officer and VP of Partnerships for the L.A. Clippers, explained the biggest challenge for marketers: “Experimentation is really expensive with VR, so you have to feel confident about your choice to invest time and money.” All panelists agreed that any exploration must start with a killer story. Transferring what your brand did on TV to VR simply won’t do. Advertisers should be thinking about how storytelling can incorporate data and different perspectives. While it remains to be seen whether the true power of AR and VR is to transport you to somewhere new or take you back to a special moment in the past, David Bomphrey, Director of Strategic Partnerships at Jaunt VR, confirmed that “the biggest risk [for brands] is creating rubbish content.”

4. Goodbye Multicultural. Hello Total Market.
It’s official. The world has never been more diverse than it is today. A full 50% of Millennials identify as multicultural, according to Marla Skiko, EVP at Publicis, who spoke on a panel discussing how advertisers should approach multicultural marketing today. With no singular demographic defining a marketplace, it’s equally important and challenging to have relevant, one-to-one conversations with this new, fragmented audience. Karna Crawford, SVP and Head of Marketing Strategy and Digital Development at JPMorgan Chase, pointed out that taking a total market approach (rather than a specialized one) is evidence of a mature brand. “We need ad tech to push harder and harder on how we serve nuanced creative [in order to have these fragmented conversations] at scale.” Which brings us to our final takeaway…

5. The Need for Creative ‘Tinkering’
Big data—plus the high demand for personalized, targeted messages—requires an investment in tech solutions that enable advertisers to serve, track and optimize multiple creatives. “We are at a tipping point…where we need to be thinking about efficient creativity,” says Crawford. We’ve reached a place where marketers are asked to do more with a finite budget, less resources and more channels to consider. To even make this possible, we’ll have to invest and implement tech solutions that help us make smarter decisions, especially when it comes to creative assets. “There is a lot of need for new toolsets…to afford us more ‘tinkering,’ more executions and [the ability] to see quickly how we’re doing,” said Aki Spicer, Chief Digital Officer at TBWA / Chiat / Day.

What were some of your biggest takeaways from day one of CES? Tweet us and continue to stay in-the-know with live updates on all the action at CES by following our #PandoraCES hashtag.

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