A Match Made Online: CES and Marketing - Michael Kassan

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Cover image for  article: A Match Made Online: CES and Marketing - Michael Kassan

I wouldn’t blame last year’s CES attendees if their most vivid memory of the show was Lady Gaga appearing at the Polaroid booth to announce she was the company’s new “creative director.”

Some things are just too loud to ignore.

Technology and marketing are now intertwined so completely that immersing oneself in the world’s largest gadget conference is no longer just an interesting side trip for a marketer; it’s a competitive necessity. Even for Gaga.

So hundreds of marketers came to increase their digital literacy and get a jump on their competition. They knew the importance of understanding the hardware on which their ads are viewed and the capabilities those platforms—current and emerging—allow.

And just as importantly, they were there to bring back knowledge, to ensure that what they learned in Vegas didn’t stay in Vegas but was seeded throughout their companies. Ad Age’s Michael Learmonth justifiably observed last year that “there really is no such thing as a non-tech brand” anymore.

In short, it was business, not pleasure, that brought marketers to Sin City—and why they came in force. We called it “The CES Effect” and in 2012, that impact is going to be even bigger, better, and more powerful.

Our MediaLink CES party, which began as an intimate affair for panelists at our sessions, will probably tickle 1,000 attendees this year, many of them from corporate marketing departments and agencies. That’s five times more than the total number of exhibitors the conference attracted at the very first CES in June of 1967.

In fact, I’d argue that CES has joined the Cannes International Festival of Creativity (it’s outgrown the “Advertising” part), the ANA Management Conference and the 4A’s Media and Management Conference as must-attend annual industry events for marketers, agencies and content creators.

CES has become important enough, in fact, for the Consumer Electronics Association to craft an entire program just for marketers, and MediaLink is proud to be the CEA’s partner on this initiative.

It’s called The CMO Club, and it is designed to help marketers navigate the CES experience, maximize their productivity at the event and connect them with the companies, technologies and people that create and inspire competitive advantage.

Through the Club, marketing executives will gain advanced access to the floor to brief relevant companies on their areas of interest. We’re preparing custom-curated tours of the CES floor specifically geared to each marketer’s interest and led by subject matter experts such as advertising and technology consultant, blogger, and journalist Shelly Palmer and digital gurus David Polinchok and Shahid Khan.

The CEA realizes that marketers are now a key part of their constituency. And tech executives, just like agency leaders in Cannes, realize that their annual conference is a perfect environment for doing business and making deals. So expect the CES Effect to multiply exponentially this January.

No one can promise you a Lady Gaga moment. But real business value will be available in quantity.

Michael E. Kassan is Chairman and CEO of MediaLink, LLC, a leading Los Angeles and New York City-based advisory and business development firm that provides critical counsel and direction on issues of marketing, advertising, media, entertainment and digital technology. Michael can be reached at michael@medialinkllc.com

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