What Should Digital Marketers Closely Watch at CES 2015?

The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2015 kicked off in Las Vegas yesterday. While attendees will be surrounded by robots, innovative mobile devices, and state-of-the-art gadgets at this technology extravaganza, what are the key CES trends this year that digital marketers should closely watch?

To answer this question, we consulted with industry veterans from Tribal Worldwide, Havas Worldwide, SapientNitro, BBDO, and Isobar US. They anticipate that wearables, autonomous cars, data insights, virtual reality (VR), and the Internet of Things will be the hottest CES topics that will have a big impact on digital marketers in the upcoming years.

guest-ddbRichard Guest, President of North America, Tribal Worldwide

“I fully agree with Jonathan Nelson, who commented that CES is less about what is in front of you and more about what it will become in the coming years. To that end, the two things that I will be paying the most attention to at CES 2015 will be ‘wearables’ and ‘autonomous cars.’ 

Wearables will continue to evolve in order to track every imaginable behavior and biometric. And, all of this tracking will become the critical nuance within big data that allows marketers to create hyper-personalized messaging and content, but for wearables to move beyond the niche into the mainstream they will have to either get a lot sexier – like the Tory Burch/Fitbit partnership – or completely disappear into the fabric of our clothing. Therefore, I’ll be paying a lot of attention to any announcements at CES that either improve the overall aesthetic of wearables or helps wearables to disappear.

As a consumer, autonomous cars are just plain cool. Who wouldn’t want a car that drives itself? It would eliminate distracted driving as a major societal problem and also cut down on the number of serious car accidents. As a marketer, the implications of the truly autonomous car are fairly profound. Imagine all of the extra screen time that will be created for drivers who have a truly autonomous car. The average American commute, round trip, was 51 minutes in 2013. With the proliferation of in-car Wi-Fi, smartphones, phablets [a hybrid of smartphones and tablets], and tablets, that’s 51 incremental minutes when a consumer will be able to interact with a brand’s content and purchase a brand’s products. Audi will be documenting its self-driving car as it travels more than 500 miles from California to Las Vegas and I will be very interested to see what other announcements are made by automotive companies at CES 2015 relative to autonomous cars.”

havas-worldwidePaul Marobella, President of Havas Worldwide Chicago Group

“The biggest trends from our perspective aren’t the hardware and appliances that are historically the big news at CES, but rather the data streams and insights their products leave for brands to mine.

For example, smart homes and smart appliances are increasingly Web- and mobile-based, leaving us with clues to the consumer’s behavior providing not just the manufacturer with usage data but new categories like consumer packaged goods (CPG) brands an understanding of how a consumer is moving through their home and precision on product usage. This shift has CPG brands attending what has traditionally been a show for tech brands and geeks.

Also, content remains the champion as appliances are back to the days of being a dumb appliance connected to the cloud – whether delivering Internet video like Dish’s new announcement of a live over-the-top (OTT) product, or the delivery of music content, to any device or appliance, which is why Havas and Universal Music Group have announced a partnership here at CES.

So the biggest and sexiest trends we see are data insights as a result of technology innovation and innovative content development and delivery to the consumer when and where they want.”

david-hewitt-hi-resDavid Hewitt, Mobile Lead, SapientNitro

“Last year, Oculus Rift and 4K displays were the star of the show. High-resolution displays and new takes on mobile device form factors will continue to play a big part of CES.

For marketers, new devices and screen upgrades don’t change the game much, however big advances with new interaction systems like ‘Nimble Sense’ could allow everyday retail storefronts to transform into immersive interactive merchandising experiences. Nimble Sense’s hand recognition sensor rig is capable of turning physical environments like everyday storefront glass into sensitive touch screens rich with branded content without having to overhaul existing brick-and-mortar infrastructure. Let’s not forget they recently joined the Oculus team, which was purchased by Facebook earlier in the year.

Also interesting, look for wearables to take more shape this year. Beyond putting some sensors on your wrist to track generic activity, wearables will start to bring more purpose and sophistication as they mature in their path to consumer adoption. With many of the larger players already focusing on gen two and three, the wearables market will start to more clearly stratify into specific lifestyle segments – helping marketers place better bets on where to experiment with branded experiences and applications.

It’s too early to expect any unveiling of Google’s investment in Magic Leap and Automotive still has more to develop before autopilot and projected dashboard systems are truly enabled for advertisers.

Keep an eye on connected home systems and how they could further be enabled for opt-in, presence, and personalization data for marketers. Google and others are starting to show progress in this space by marrying TV (a la YouTube), smartphone, and content usage together against user specific profiles.”

daniel-charnessDaniel Charness, Director of The Digital Lab, BBDO

“I think the Internet of Things is going to be the biggest discussion at CES this year, simply because everything, including buzzwords like wearables, connected devices, connected cars, and even mobile, gears toward becoming part of the giant umbrella of the Internet of Things.

There are a couple of ways you can spin on how the Internet of Things are relevant to marketers. The most important thing is thinking about how objects that are lifeless now can have a life and communicate with people. For example, a refrigerator knows when a certain food is low in supply and could form a relationship or extend the relationship it already has to a specific brand and put one or two orders of whatever that product is.

I think the biggest takeaway from the technology tradeshow will be about ‘human behavior,’ because the trend we are seeing now is fundamentally changing the way we behave. For example, although I don’t think smartphones will be a big focus this year, the way the smartphone changes our everyday behavior is important for marketers to watch. In that sense, I would say this year that watching how connected devices allow us to behave or change the way we behave is important for marketers.

At this year’s CES, I’m also interested to see how start-ups to approach the Internet of Things.”

dave-meeker-bwDave Meeker, Vice President of Innovation, Isobar US

“I think that connected devices or the Internet of Things will probably get the most growth in buzz from last year. There are going to be a ton of new devices and offerings, some that will make sense and others that might not. But it is early. This is the year this stuff goes from emerging technology to mainstream product.

We will also hear a lot about screens and how great they are, as well as battery power and how much longer they will last. That’s because the big guys that spend all the money have nothing else to differentiate their product lines. But there is a bigger story underneath all that.

I also think there will be a lot of buzz around VR this year.

In a nutshell, I think the top five hottest topics we can expect from CES 2015 are:

  • Connected home: We can go on and on about this, but the connected home has gone from novelty to commodity. This means tons of new products that control or monitor things, as well as a slew of offerings from everyone from Apple and Microsoft to new startups that will act as ‘hubs.’ The real battle for the consumer is the ‘hub.’ We see NEST working toward this with their recent partnerships and acquisitions, including a smart washer and dryer that fires up when energy is the cheapest.
  • This moves onto energy management: It’s about optimizing the use of energy in one’s home or office, not just control. A lot of products are going to start featuring technology that allows for it to be smarter about how and when it uses energy. 
  • Wearables: Wearables will be all over the place. Lots of watches and lots of talk about the Apple Watch.
  • New types of screens: Flexible, bendable, and really pretty screens are going to be hot. Lots of products can take on new form factors of the screens don’t need to be so rigid. This could also lead to curved PC or laptop screens.
  • VR devices or head-worn computers: Look how cool VR is as well as how much promise there is for other types of computers, where Google Glass failed.”

What will you be paying attention to at CES this year? Please let us know in the comments below!

Homepage image via Shutterstock.

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