This year's CES has been panned by many as one of the worst in memory. It's true that not one big thing blew anyone away. Artificial Intelligence, especially from leaders like Amazon and Google, certainly had a heavy presence this year. Yet, according to experts and pundits, no one particular thing really "won" CES. The truth is that the theme this year was similar to last year's, in which there was an evolution of multiple technologies including IoT, AI, AR, VR, robotics, drones, wearables, connected homes, connected cars, connected cities, even rideable luggage, and much, much more.
This has led us to one striking conclusion: This is simply the new reality we all live in today. Whether you look at it as a wave of progressive advances here to improve our way of life, or an onslaught of dark horrors a la Black Mirror, the fact is that almost every facet of our lives will be connected through a myriad of new and advanced technologies. We now must face the reality of a world with smart countertops, smart lampposts, drone pizza deliveries, robotic pets, virtual vacations, and voice controlled everything. All of these technologies are here today, rapidly evolving, and moving faster to real-world adoption than we may all expect.
We believe the following trends are the most impactful on the marketing industry in the near term:
AI Everywhere. Let's just get this very popular one out of the way first. There's obviously a reason why artificial intelligence is on the tips of everyone's tongues. On one hand, there are the very visible voice assistants like Google Home and Amazon Alexa. On the other hand, things like "deep learning" and "machine learning" are being applied to multiple programs and platforms across the ad tech landscape. It was clear at CES that AI is being embedded into almost everything and marketers will have the opportunity to tap into discovery and recommendation engines that will make today's search engines look truly archaic.
One popular panel at CES was the one focused on 5G networks. Fifth generation networks are still a little bit of a ways off, but the consensus among the panelists from organizations like Qualcomm, Ericsson, and Nokia is that the speed and processing power will transform multiple industries. In addition to that, Ford showed off its mobility ecosystem designed to connect cars and cities. Devices, including cars themselves, will become much more powerful from almost anywhere, dramatically changing how we experience and provide content like video, virtual reality, and more.
You've heard it before. Screens everywhere. Data everywhere. Internet everywhere. The difference now is that the hardware and other technology are real. On display at CES were connected showers, digital ovens, smart toilets, an army of automated automobiles, and smart fabric. When your kitchen, your shower, your car, and even your clothes are connected, there is literally nowhere to hide from it. It will give us the opportunity to connect with consumers with the promise of anyplace and anytime, but it also runs the risk of making consumers even more adept at avoiding advertising.
It's clear that media and publishing companies are investing more and more in new immersive experiences like augmented reality and virtual reality. During his keynote speech, Brian Krzanich, CEO at Intel, showed off the company's latest version of True View virtual reality that enables fans to see NFL games from a player's perspective. Boxer Floyd Mayweather literally fought himself to promote a new VR fitness game. Meanwhile, Hulu announced that the streaming service will be offering a personalized live broadcast of this year's Olympics. Snapchat and Facebook continue to invest heavily in augmented reality. And as per usual at CES, a slew of new TV technologies were introduced, including one by Samsung called The Wall due to its insane 146-inch size, and an OLED one by LG that is actually "rollable" like a newspaper. These innovations, along with the literally hundreds of other new experiential technologies, prove that the hardware to change how media is experienced is very real.
The simple message for advertisers coming out of CES is that the old guard of conventional media is finally on its last legs, and if you are slow to the party when it comes to working in new technologies like voice assistants, augmented reality, and even mobile and social advertising, then you could find yourself in big trouble very soon. An onslaught of new screens and immersive experiences powered by artificial intelligence and delivered at ultrafast speeds to myriad devices is on its way, and on its way fast. It's imperative to develop a plan for testing new technologies, for having a flexible tech and data stack that can go well beyond the world of cookies and points, and most importantly, for finally sun-setting much of the conventional advertising and media that may not even exist in the next two to five years.