3 Trends for Marketers to Watch from CES 2017

Nicole McCormack / January 19, 2017

The LG Hub Robot & Mini powered by Amazon Alexa. Photo: AP Photo/John Locher

Coming back from CES this year, there was so much information to absorb, but three key trends stuck out in my mind as things I’m going to start paying attention to on the heels of the conference:

  1. Alexa was the “it” girl of CES.

The halls were abuzz with talk about Amazon Echo/Alexa, Google Home and other Interactive Voice Response (IVR) systems, partially because of what folks were seeing on the floor but mainly because it seemed that every family got one this holiday season. While the most common topic of conversation was swapping stories about the hilarious questions your kids ask Alexa and how she responds, there was still plenty of meaningful dialogue about the impact of this technology on the future of marketing.  

Beyond its own capabilities, IVR also makes it possible to do even more with your phone. Will anyone even open their laptops anymore except to do email, Excel, and an occasional Powerpoint? I can see that it may further accelerate an increase in mobile content consumption.

The popularity of IVR also makes me wonder about the implications for marketing. Already, we see a resurgence of podcasts and audiobooks, and Spotify is as popular as ever. Is a new day of audio advertising dawning?

Or will the new devices in our homes lead to a new era of even more aggressive data collection? Shelly Palmer writes that “the world will be a very different place when Google, Amazon, Microsoft, Apple and other AI-empowered players have assembled 1st-party profile data that includes our agency. It will make what they do with our current behavioral profiles look like primitive data processing.” His piece is worth a read.

  1. The pendulum is swinging back from snacking to immersion.

Popular thinking, of course, is that attention spans continue to decline, particularly in a mobile, social world, and that content consumption is all about snacking. But in a panel at the OMD Oasis titled The Art Of Storytelling In An Attention Deficit World, Brad Jakeman, President, PepsiCo’s Global Beverage Group, said that it’s a mistake to assume it’s all about short-form now. People are binge-watching shows like The Queen for 24 hours over the holidays. IVR, podcasts, and binge-watching are indicators of a countermovement against snackable content, toward depth, complexity and context.

Brad went on to say that it’s “super dangerous to try to tell a brand narrative in three seconds.” Length of content should depend on the distribution strategy.  That’s why Pepsi built a content study to play with innovative content formats, short and long.  

One of the drivers behind this trend is the desire for quality. Not just consumers yearn for quality; brands and advertisers do as well. I heard lots of caution about the drive for quantity at any cost and how it leads to link bait and fake news. People in the ad industry warn against too much focus on reach and eyeballs. TV is good for reach, but what we need from digital and social is engagement and we need to look at digital and social in that way. Let’s not convert old media metrics to new platforms. Let’s move forward.

  1. We want guaranteed audiences.

In the more data-centric and marketing-geek hallways and suites of CES, predominately in and around the Aria, I heard a lot of discussion about more and more marketers wanting to buy guaranteed audiences.  But in the context of programmatic (more than two-thirds of U.S. digital display ad spending is programmatic), there is a lot we have to do to ensure the data is surfacing in the pipes to make that a reality. As sexy as it does not sound, 2017 is going to be a big year of engineering, maintenance and connecting of pipes in the programmatic space. The feeling is that we have a ton of data, but the plumbing can’t currently use it.

There was so much more going on at CES, from self-driving cars to robots and all types of disruption. The event continues to inspire and I’m looking forward to what 2017 has in store for marketers.
NicoleM is reading OMD OASIS CES 2017 

This article first appeared on iMedia Connection