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Some Key Takeaways for Marketers from CES 2017

AcxiomJanuary 13, 2017

Renowned tech expert Shelly Palmer called CES 2017 “the most important CES probably in the last 20 years.” That’s no small claim considering the groundbreaking, now ubiquitous products that have debuted at the tradeshow in the past two decades, such as DVDs, HDTVs and DVRs.

One reason he believes it was such a landmark event was that it served as a stark reminder for marketers that the velocity of data is increasing, and it will never let up from its torrid pace. Let’s look at three technology trends that emerged from the show impacting marketers in this regard.

Digital Assistants
While CES provided a glimpse at the impending arrival of a more automated economy through self-driving cars, there were also a number of technologies that are transforming consumers’ lives today. By most accounts, the one that took center stage was Amazon Alexa, the company’s voice control service. Alexa seemed to be omnipresent at the show — Palmer estimated there were more than 1,000 products touting an Alexa integration on the floor.

While it is rare for software to steal the spotlight at a traditionally hardware-dominated tradeshow, this was about more than the cool factor of having machines obey your voice. It demonstrated that the Internet of Things’ interoperability problem may have found its solution and can finally kick into gear. Palmer went as far to call Alexa “the killer app for IoT.”

Alexa makes it easy for a manufacturer to make their device “connected,” which will spur rapid adoption of voice as an interface and create new data streams. Naturally, consumers will be very sensitive about privacy concerns for voice control given it is their voice and the voices of their children calling out commands, so expect this issue to play an increasingly larger role in marketing circles. Brands looking to leverage this new technology and others like it will need to be extremely mindful of how they collect and use the data generated by these devices.

Home Hubs
Turning the home into a full-fledged hub was another trend at CES. The debut of the LG Hub Robot was Jetsons-like in its appearance, although its functionality is more limited — it promises to connect LG’s smart appliances in the home for greater efficiency.

As consumers adopt smart home technology and connected appliances, the amount of data generated in the home will be unprecedented, giving brands the opportunity to obtain a more holistic understanding of consumers. As Palmer put it, the new paradigm is “We do life and create data.” This is a strong indicator that the data economy is poised to become much stronger, and that data sharing will become more ubiquitous and necessary to create incremental value for consumers, such as having your fridge order your groceries for you.

But it’s a double-edged sword, as there will also be more opportunities for analytics to unwittingly uncover behaviors consumers may prefer to keep private. Keeping consumer trust will be paramount. They will only trust brands that adhere to the ethical use of data in their management and sharing of data.

Cord-Cutting
Cord-cutting has rapidly accelerated into a full-blown phenomenon, with 1 in 4 households no longer subscribing to a pay-TV service. That number is sure to increase with the latest wireless antenna technology unveiled at CES, which allows consumers to cut the cord and still get local broadcast stations — key for watching sporting events and popular network programs.

Services like these give consumers more opportunities to control content and shut advertisers out. While advertisers are used to innovations that attempt to minimize their impact like DVRs, cord cutting is an unstoppable shift that demands an evolving strategy for TV advertising. Many advertisers have already begun experimenting with new TV ad delivery mechanisms like addressable TV. VOD has proven to be an ideal testing ground for brands, according to Acxiom’s Eric Schmitt. Watch him discuss how brands are leveraging Advanced TV to embrace omnichannel integration here.

While we will all need a few years to determine whether this was the most important CES in two decades, it certainly presented a number of exciting developments — and emerging challenges — for marketers in their continuing quest to create compelling and meaningful consumer experiences.