Blog/Pod

Virtual CES Unveils Key Trends for Marketers

January 21, 2021
Lisa Purpura - Senior Vice President / Director of Connections & Engagement

I am one of those people who is constantly curious: always reading, always learning. And nothing excites me more than the annual Consumer Electronics Show. I know, I’m a nerd. But a really well-done application of artificial intelligence gets my mind spinning and I start thinking about other potential applications. That leads to internal sharing and discussion, which inspires new ideas and approaches to our day-to-day work. Ahh . . . the rush just makes my day!

Last week I was fortunate enough to join thousands of digitally curious colleagues at Virtual CES. Instead of gathering in Las Vegas as usual, we listened to the latest tech advancements from the safety of our homes. I missed the in-person tech demos and networking of years past, but I didn’t mind the virtual presentations. In fact, I kind of liked sitting in my home in my pajamas, unshowered, listening to the Exhibit Zero keynote by GM CEO Mary Barra.

As usual, CES did not disappoint in terms of content. Here are a few of my key marketing-related takeaways:

  1. The pandemic has accelerated the pace of digital adoption across the board. What typically takes years to become mass has happened in just months. Digital technologies like augmented reality are now commonplace experiences for consumers. As one panelist said, “Think of all of the people in the past few months who began banking online, shopping or ordering meals on an app, or seeing their doctor virtually. Even when things return to normal, many consumers will still want these digital experiences to complement their in-person interactions.”
  2. Consumers care about a brand’s values and how they demonstrate those values as action. It’s not enough to tell consumers you stand for something – you need to show them. This includes aligning your values with social platforms and what they stand for, just like you would choose to advertise on specific television programming or networks.
  3. It was refreshing to hear the industry acknowledge that cookies and third-party data sources are going away. I almost cried when one presenter validated what I have been saying for years: First-party data will be the digital targeting currency of the future.
  4. Consumers expect brands to provide value in exchange for having a relationship with them. To do that, brands need to personalize experiences based on their understanding of the consumer and what they need, then delivering those needs at the right time in their journey. Personalization is not a novel concept in digital, but adopting it at scale within a marketing plan may be new for many brands. Think segmenting audiences, understanding behavior with AI and delivering real-time messages.
  5. 5G will further accelerate digital technology adoption due to faster speeds, low lag time and the number of devices that can be online at the same time. Digital experiences that used to frustrate consumers as they waited for a site or application to load will no longer be a barrier. But consumers will need to buy 5G devices to capitalize on this advancement.

Lastly, a huge shout-out to the panelist from the Department of Defense in the session about AI and Quantum Computing. Adversarial AI is a term I plan to use as frequently as possible.

Of course, it’s not CES without the introduction of new tech. I now want a Bot Handy so I won’t have to do housework, and a pair of Lenovo AR glasses. But I’ll settle for attending next year’s conference instead!


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