Tantalized by Next-Gen Tech at CES 2019? The three questions marketers really need to ask

Tantalized by Next-Gen Tech at CES 2019? The three questions marketers really need to ask

 By Tripp Boyle, SVP, Connekt


Like the majority of flagship advertising and media events, CES 2019 was yet again a weeklong reunion with executives looking to win and schmooze clients and investors at the Aria, Cosmo and Nomad hotels, as well as on the various show floors.

This year, next-gen tech stole the show with thousands of companies slinging their innovative solutions at major league speeds like HTC unveiling their new VR headsets.

In fact, the 5G, dynamic content optimization, connected TV and voice activations, as well as the flood of other smart home devices and autonomous vehicles were so appealing, how could the teams at Deloitte Digital, Google, Samsung, SONY, Turner, Magna, S4 Capital, NBC, Roku and every investor in the world not turn their heads? Even those companies themselves showed up with dreamy aspirational headlines echoing similar themes across their opulent trade show booths and digital living rooms. Apple, the perennial CES ghost, was again nowhere to be seen.

Though, with all the hype and speculation, at the end of the day, there are only three things that marketing and media executives need to ask following CES: does it work, does it matter and where’s the money? These questions are something that Needham & Company analyst Laura Martin deserves the credit for inspiring and once again raising eyebrows as she boldly delivered her reaction to CES at a private, executive dinner.

The truth, as Martin points out is that, “CES is mainly three tech years ahead of market, if that tech even gets to market at all.” That’s why “does it work?” is the first question. Executives need to be wary of the CES show floor shopping expeditions altogether. What many are showing is their future, not what can be activated in market now. What we need is tech that works today and is built for the future.

To tip a hat to S4 Capital founder and keynote speaker, Sir Martin Sorrell, and the marketing team at Xandr, questions like “does it matter” are perfectly directed. Right now, every media, marketing and content company has the same problem. They must figure out how to get technology, data and content to work together in ways that tantalize audiences who have abundant choices. One way to successfully accomplish this is to diversify revenue streams. So, if the next-gen tech you are looking at doesn’t help address this core issue and lead to revenue, skip it.

Finally, “where’s the money?” This one’s buried at CES because it is so fun to see your science fiction dreams at giant scale alongside 170,000 others from around the world. But, it’s crucial to business success. If what you are checking out isn’t going to lead to fiscal benefit in the very short-term, you may generate a ton of buzz but you’ll never see Madison Avenue, let alone Wall Street.

In order for brand marketers to keep up with what is arguably the most rapidly evolving media ecosystem they’ve ever encountered, it’s vital that coming out of CES they separate what is actionable from the noise and set a strategic course forward to take advantage of a window for innovation leadership that won’t stay open in perpetuity. What they need to realize is that it’s often a low entry point, from an investment perspective, for incredibly valuable insights that will shape future media strategy, and often garners invaluable buzz to keep the rest of the market at attention.