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CES 2020: industry analysis

13 Jan 2020 
CES 2020: industry analysis

As the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas closes its doors for another year, industry experts share their key media take-aways

Christian Polman, CSO, Ebiquity

With the steady erosion of the most successful brand building medium ever – linear TV – it’s time to approach CES with fresh eyes. But getting the basics right when it comes to digital customer experiences – such as mobile apps or web experiences – is challenging enough for incumbent brands.

It stands to reason that marketers should learn how they can leverage technology to build differentiated products, brand experiences that communicate their purpose to consumers and by extension, build their brands in the digital age. Crucially, brands need to look harder and smarter than ever to find golden nuggets to stand out from the crowd.

This is particularly true when 2020 is widely considered to be the year of brand and purpose building, a trend we’re especially seeing among consumer brands. 2019 generated enough proof-points that being purpose-led works so it comes as little surprise that many brands from Salesforce to Delta brought those stories to the fore at CES this year.

Many brands have also woken up to the realisation that they have shifted too hard to performance marketing and, after assessing the evidence from data and analytics as a guide, they are shifting back to brand building. Yet there’s still a long way to go to embed purpose within companies and across marketing communications in an authentic and consumer-relevant way that truly builds brands.

Spotify’s launch of its new adtech product, Streaming Ad Insertion, is a significant development in the Audio space for marketers. I have no doubt this is an excellent addition to Spotify’s suite of services for brands that want to undertake brand activation.

But brands will also be looking for what else the music streaming giant and other media owners and platforms will be doing to offer strategic brand building opportunities, especially as purpose becomes more important to consumers.

Lucy Barrett, Client Director, Radiocentre

At the Mediatel Year Ahead event IPG’s Caroline Foster Kenny predicted that ‘Alexa’ was the one word to define 2020. If the buzz at last week’s CES was anything to go by, she will be proven right.

The Amazon voice assistant is continuing its march into every aspect of our lives. We were even shown an Alexa controlled shower-head. The ‘Moxie’ can change water flow and temperature via Alexa and you can (of course) choose a radio station to accompany your ablutions.
Echo Auto, which lets you take Alexa along for a ride via a car’s 12-V outlet (or USB) and currently only in the US, will be rolled out internationally from this month.

Amazon said the number of Alexa voice assistant devices has doubled over the past year, with “hundreds of millions of Alexa-enabled devices” owned by customers, more than twice the hundred million it announced last January.

CES is now the setting for an annual face-off between Google and Amazon over who has the coolest voice-powered smart home products. Google’s influence is also impressive. Numbers for Google Assistant, have now passed 500 million monthly users.
It is launching a text reader which it claims will have more natural sounding voices than rivals making it easier to listen to spoken versions of long form copy. This is another step in turning the internet into an audio experience as people listen to web pages, blogs and social media posts rather than read them.

Audio is going to be literally everywhere. So as live radio accounts for 75% of all listening, technology is, most definitely, working in our medium’s favour.

Claire Kimber, Group Innovation Director, Posterscope

Humans are the reproductive organs of technology” ― Kevin Kelly, What Technology Wants

...And if CES 2020 was anything to go by, humans across the globe have been hard at it, before giving birth to some extraordinary tech in the Nevada desert. Collaborations have always been the fuel that really push things on, and there have been incredible examples of this in previous years, but this year the onus seemed to be on perhaps the greatest collaboration: the symbiosis of human and machine.

Brain-computer interfaces from NextMind, interactive digital screens using next-gen gesture control from VTouch, and next level ‘Artificial Humans’ from the Samsung STAR Labs Neon project were impressive examples of such. But perhaps the most exciting was the clear agenda for taking this symbiosis, making it aesthetically pleasing and using it for good: the Vision AVTR - a beautiful visualisation of the Mercedes-Benz dream of 2039; a vehicle that responds to the driver’s heartbeat – and has recycled interiors and organic battery technology, Toyota’s hydrogen-powered Woven City; a ‘living lab’ for understanding a true smart city, and examples of indoor LED farming solutions from LG etc for all our homes.

OOH tech has an opportunity and an obligation to follow suit and be better for everyone: more sustainable, more creative, more useful. Let’s get reproducing.

Uli Reese, CMO, amp

Audio was a big focus at CES this year. Not only did we see the number of voice-enabled consumer touchpoints grow exponentially across multiple sectors, but Sony even launched its first car, designed specifically with the aim of offering consumers a ‘360-degree audio experience ‘.

This move is a reminder that sound is becoming an increasingly relied upon tool for brands, particularly when it comes to ‘hands free’ experiences like driving.

Sony even has its own pre-prepared catalogue of recorded tracks that will play inside the car via its ’Sony 360 Reality Audio’ function.

But as we move closer to a screenless future, the next step for Sony, and indeed for all brands, should be in working out how to make themselves heard in a screenless ecosystem.

Rather than relying on jingles, they should consider developing a comprehensive sound DNA. A piece of music that incorporates their existing brand values and attributes in a meaningful way, can be used across all audio consumer touchpoints, and is also flexible enough to last for decades.

So while developments at CES this year highlighted that the education gap around audio is narrowing, there is still work to do if brands want to survive the next wave in the audio revolution.

Lawrence Edmondson, Senior Vice President, Technology, VaynerMedia

The beauty of CES is that it not only allows you to experience advances in Consumer Technology first-hand, but it also jump-starts your imagination via practical applications of technology and consumer need.

The virtual try-on experience from LG, the foldable and wearable screens from Royole, the 5G powered in-car operating system from Samsung and the breathtaking advancements in 8K displays from Sony, Samsung and LG were among the most promising technologies that we believe could make a significant impact on media and consumer engagement.

These advancements in technology further validated our thinking when it comes to consumer experiences. Which is that technology works best when paired with creativity, communication, and purpose.

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