Day 1 of CES officially kicked off on Wednesday, dampened somewhat by adverse weather conditions that caused delays for many travelers flying in from across the country and around the globe. Stories of $1000 cab rides from San Francisco to Las Vegas made for excellent cocktail hour fodder.
One of the challenges of CES is that one is bombarded by so many products, ideas and press releases that it is difficult to discern what is simply ephemeral hype vs. an indicator of a “hypertrend” that will have lasting implications on industry, consumer behavior and culture.
There are few “new” trends and buzzwords being introduced to the lexicon in 2016, but this year’s conference represents a maturation of several categories that will come to dominate industry conversation moving forward. The subjects may be familiar but the advancements are undeniable.
How Can “Things” Data Become Actionable for Advertisers?
At CES 2016, the acceleration of the Internet of Things (IoT) cannot be ignored. The consumer data collected by these “things” and how the data can be used to buy ads is of particular interest—however, upon walking the floor it became apparent that “things” data is deeply fragmented and disorganized.
Many are attempting to manage this mess, from Google Nest in the home to Samsung’s ecosystem of everyday things that talk to each other to BMW’s Mobility Cloud that integrates data from home and commute. We can certainly imagine a future where IoT data is used to buy ads. For instance, data from a refrigerator that knows when yogurt has spoiled could be very valuable to Nestle. Nestle could deliver ads directly to the fridge or anything else connected to it. But how will we access that isolated data in real-time to make the ad buy?
We think the proliferation of “things” data and connectivity paves the way for a future marketplace for ad buying that leverages this data, much like the DoubleClick for IoT. While this still has ways to go, it could make “things” (and also wearables) data actionable. As horizontal applications outperform discreet ones, this could eventually create a sustainable ad business for the IoT.
Still in Search of the Perfect Band (Or Watch)
The wearables watch/band market (growing 35% Y/Y) is still deeply fragmented with every manufacturer chasing the Apple Watch. At CES 2016, every watch company is getting smart. For instance, Fossil announced that it’s rolling out 100 connected devices this year. The thinking is that adding tech to watches just makes sense. Furthermore, bands and watches are merging. Fitbit (the leader in bands) unveiled the Blaze, a fitness tracker that includes Apple Watch-like features like fashionable bands and a color touch screen (yet not based on iOS or Android). Fitbit’s stock promptly dropped, perhaps because investors think it’s stepping out of its sweet spot and can’t compete with the Apple Watch.
But no matter how many bands and watches we see at CES (and even the Apple Watch, which isn’t at CES), we’re still wondering when the tipping point will occur for critical mass. What needs to happen for people to buy and keep a watch/band? While a wearable that is fully integrated with your body (e.g. one that acts like a personal trainer, giving real-time feedback) doesn’t yet exist, the industry is getting closer. One such wearable is the Garmin VivoActive, which takes in data from your body and encourages you to do things like “play harder” during activities like running or swimming. But all-in-all, these are only baby steps from last year. While these wearables should be on every brand’s radar, we’re still reluctant to call 2016 the year of the band/watch.
Automotive Takes Its Place in The Internet of Things
Automotive has made the headlines at CES for the past few years, and this year was no exception. GM announced its partnership with ride-hailing app Lyft to develop a fleet of driverless taxis. The move signals auto manufacturers working more closely with Silicon Valley, which can only be a good thing.
Notable car launches include VW’s two connected and all-electric concept cars: the e-Golf Touch and the Budd-e microbus. There was also a lot of talk about the electric hypercar Faraday Future FFZERO1 which CNET described as “an extreme tablet on wheels.”
But arguably of most interest to the marketing community was the exciting technology demonstrated by BMW. Its Open Mobility Cloud technology shows how the car can be seamlessly integrated into the connected home, enabling drivers to manage their lives from within the car. This makes automotive a key part of the Internet of Things.
Mobile Wallet Helps Create Better Consumer Journeys
Samsung Pay ads are all over Las Vegas, and the Korean technology giant used CES to announce the next stage of the rollout of its mobile payment facility. Adding to South Korea and the U.S., Samsung Pay will be available in Australia, Singapore and Brazil, and launches are imminent in China, UK and Spain.
While developments in mobile wallet technology are not as sexy as robots and virtual reality, they are important for marketers as brands look to create seamless experiences along the consumer journey that end in a payment process that meets the needs of the mobile consumer.
Over at Sony’s stand, most delegates were crowding to see the latest TVs, but nestled in the middle was an interesting example of how payment technology is meeting the needs of consumers. For international travelers, the Sony Bank Wallet links debit payments or ATM withdrawals to the customer’s bank account in the form of an automatic currency exchange. The card is supported by a mobile app to enable biometric authentication.
AR and VR Offer More Engagement Opportunities
Virtual and augmented reality have been the darlings of CES in recent years. For marketers, the opportunities for engagement through gaming, utility apps and creative adverting are becoming clearer. And what was clear from the stands at CES is that VR and AR technology is becoming cheaper and more accessible.
Oculus–now owned by Facebook–announced that consumers will finally be able to get their hands on their own Rift, available for pre-order at $599. Garmin has created an augmented reality display that cyclists can mount on their sunglasses which provides performance information as well as directions and traffic alerts. Additionally, Hyundai has built an augmented reality app called the Virtual Guide which enables owners to use their phones to better perform basic maintenance.
VR and AR will change both consumer experience and expectations. The tipping point will be when the technology is embedded rather than provided through separate devices.
Humanizing Data: From AI to HI
Today, ZenithOptimedia and Viacom Velocity hosted a panel discussing the evolution of data-led marketing. Shelly Palmer, Managing Director Digital Media Group, Landmark Ventures, touched on where user experience and user interface meet and how consumers are seeking a frictionless environment, based off of improved data.
Rishad Tobaccowala, Chief Strategist of Publicis Groupe, followed up with the fact that “Advertising narrowly = amazing. Advertising broadly, no one wants.” This is how we create the frictionless environment based on data for consumers.
Sharon Profis, Senior Editor at CNET, noted that in order to make experiences consumer friendly, brands and advertisers have to adapt to a truly native mobile experience. This is the only way to create an experience that consumers want to engage with.
Overall, Kern Schireson, EVP, Data Strategy & Consumer Intelligence at Viacom, brought up that consumers are in demand of their content and that spills over into advertising. Consumers are making sure they see fewer but more relevant ads.