CES 2014 is over and we’ve taken stock of the new gadgets and technologies that will be making their way to market over the next year. The press has already weighed in with the highlights of the show and their top picks. While it’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of ultra-thin curved-screen 4K ultra HDTVs, I find myself thinking more about how all this new technology will ultimately revolutionize our roles as advertising professionals.
Our industry is heavily reliant on TV advertising for the vast majority of revenue. If live TV is merely one of dozens of choices available on your Smart TV, and viewer habits evolve accordingly, what do we do now?
If I had the answer to this question, I probably would not be sitting here typing this post. But since I’ve already started down this path, here are a few takeaways from the show:
- Fragmentation will continue unabated. No doubt about it, ratings will continue to decline. Certainly individual shows will have the ability to attract large viewers; but large audiences gathering for live TV is quickly becoming a quaint notion.As previously noted, there are too many entertainment options available to viewers at any one time on Smart TVs, and we will soon all have Smart TVs or plug-in solutions that make our TV’s smart. Our challenge as advertisers is to figure out how we harness this technology to continue enabling delivery of target audiences at scale.
- Content is personalized and curated and the viewer is in control. Technology that enables voice and gesture recognition (similar to Xbox Kinect) was demonstrated by multiple exhibitors. Panasonic’s Life+ Screen recognizes when a person enters the room based on their body heat and turns on the screen. A camera on the screen recognizes which person is in the room and pulls up custom content for that specific user. LG’s solution responds to voice and gesture commands – a small gesture of your finger can adjust volume up or down. Can we make our ad messages compelling enough to not be swiped away?
- Second screen(s) will become second nature. Mobile and tablets started this phenomena and wearable technology will take it to another level. LG demonstrated a wearable wristband solution that communicates with your TV, enabling you to exercise to a fitness video while also viewing (onscreen) your calories burned, pace, steps or other measurements tracked by the wristband.It’s a small leap to envision that the data consumers are tracking on their Fitbits, Jawbones and forthcoming smartwatches will be more commonly shared with a Smart TV app instead of a computer app, thus making health and fitness a more engaging activity. How soon before we can buy this data and target those consumers with relevant ads?
- Drive time audio. Radio has already adjusted to the reality of SiriusXM and Pandora. Now car radios will face a further overhaul. Ford showed off its Sync AppLink technology that allows drivers to control any smartphone music app from their dashboard by mapping it through Sync. Naturally this will expand music listening choices to include Rhapsody, Slacker, iHeart and Spotify, and our challenge as advertisers will be to reassess how we buy radio. But wait – you can download the Dominos app and order a pizza on the way home in your car, so there is another whole level of brand opportunity here as well.
I’m beginning to feel the same sense of dizziness I experienced in walking the floor of the Las Vegas Convention Center on Day 1 of CES. There are a lot of technological changes coming at us. The advertising solutions we come up with to address the challenges we see today may turn out to be as temporary as the technology they are based on, but we have to start evolving quickly to keep up. In the meantime, excuse me while I go check out the new Pebble Steel smartwatch.