A Game of High Stakes: Media Roulette and Other Learnings from CES

By Thought Leaders Archives
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At CES there was no shortage of discussion on the future of advertising. Given the very crowded U.S. $560 billion global ad landscape, marketing leaders carefully master the seismic shifts, fueled by the emergence of 5G, AI and the voracious consumer appetite for content in all formats and platforms. This is evidenced by new platforms like TikTok and its ability to create new meme sensations engaging its 500 million active users globally. According to the “Future of Data-Driven Marketing” panel and other keynote presentations at the world’s biggest tech conference, every CMO faces an imperative to quantify ROI and demonstrate real business results while also demonstrating continuous improvement in marketing performance.

Several key trends are influencing the disruption and evolution of the marketing landscape. Many of the world’s global business leaders touched on them during the annual tech pilgrimage to Las Vegas.

Privacy and Regulatory Forces

Several notable headwinds are impacting global digital advertisers, including the “broken” media and measurement supply chain, high risk of fraud, lack of brand safety, SVOD decreasing reach of TV and changing consumer preferences. Also among these challenges are the rise of privacy concerns amid regulatory changes with GDPR in EU and the CCPA in California. Given these multiple forces, we are facing slow but inevitable change across the ecosystem. According to Richard Raddon of ZEFR, “technology overhead is very complex and not often understood by regulators and in addition all the regulation has ironically enhanced the walled gardens.” As advertisers get ready for these sweeping regulatory changes, peak industry bodies are intensifying their lobbying efforts to get closer to a consistent national data privacy law to prevent the tricky and confusing scenario of multiple state regulations. The impact of the GDPR has been global, and it is expected that the impact of the CCPA will be, as well, considering that California is the fifth largest economy in the world.

Creativity at Scale

Creative will be driven by relevance, engagement and data, according to Brian Quinn of AppsFlyer. The industry has an opportunity to create a flywheel effect of “creative at scale” buoyed by technology, personalization and insights.

According to Gary Vaynerchuk, CEO of VaynerMedia, “We don’t need more data; it is highly commoditized. In the end, creative will determine success.”

Given almost 75% of internet usage will be on mobile phones by 2025 and the majority of mobile usage will revolve around video content with sight, sound and motion, the versatility, multi-dimensionality and digitization of storytelling will reach exciting new heights. Jeffrey Katzenberg, Founder of Quibi and Meg Whitman, CEO of Quibi took to the stage at CES totalk about their company’sturnstyle technology, which allows users to change the perspective of the show when they hold their phones in portrait mode versus holding them vertically.

Digitization and Personalization Across Platforms

From AI to podcasting, from shoppable interactive ad units to dynamically creative location-based ads, the world of the physical and digital is colliding. Brands need to migrate from current multi-platform delivery across tablet, mobile, in-app, video and events to omni-delivery that extends to IoT, virtual assistants and new immersive worlds using AR (augmented reality), VR (virtual reality) and MR (mixed reality). Interactive, video-driven and personalized solutions will drive consumer actions.

The world’s largest brands, including Procter & Gamble and Unilever, took different approaches during CES to addressing the disruption facing the ad industry. Unilever focused on an integrated way to fix a broken digital ecosystem, including through data-driven solutions like blockchain, while P&G appeared to offer something closer to a radical transformation -- one where technology- and purpose-driven products are central to the strategy. "I would say that the days of advertising as we know it today are numbered," Marc Pritchard, chief brand officer at P&G said. "We need to start thinking about a world with no ads."

Driven by Brand Purpose

At the center of these conversations is brand purpose, which has increasingly become the modus operandi of several global brands. Samsung set the tone during its keynote, emphasizing that its mission during the Age of Experience is to ensure “better global societies.” From smart cities to smart fitness tracking to a smart ball “housekeeper” robot called Ballie, Samsung unveiled how technology can make our lives more efficient, healthier and memorable.

One of the strange things about CES 2020 is how many non-tech companies chose to present at the giant trade show to show off their wares. Coca-Cola pushed a new formulation for Coca-Cola Energy (it has guarana extracts). Impossible Foods unveiled a new fake pork product. Deere & Co showed off its new age, tech-enhanced tractors. Procter & Gamble showcased its connected toothbrushes and a concept robot that delivered a spare roll of toilet paper when you need it most. Delta also made a splash at the show when CEO Ed Bastian raised concerns about carbon emissions from air travel, promising Delta would invest in renewable solutions to offset emissions for flights to and from Las Vegas during the week of CES. Delta also reiterated its commitment to cutting its emissions in half by 2050.

Game On

Where the media allocation decision may have resembled a game of roulette some years ago, it no longer does (at least in most cases). With the avalanche of data, new technologies like AI/ML and the digitization of the consumer experience, marketers are now armed to enter the high stakes arena of delivering on marketing effectiveness, with foresight, pinpoint intelligence and digital gravitas. The road ahead will rely on strategic vision, stellar execution and empowering leadership. We saw plenty of all three at CES 2020.

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