Takeaways from CES 2016

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Filed Under: Industry Trends

Years ago I attended CES and first heard the notion that someday soon our refrigerators will tell us when we need to buy milk.  Like many prognostications from CES, it sounded like technology for technology’s sake (after all, how hard is it to look in your fridge?)  But someday has arrived, and the new Family Hub Refrigerator from Samsung actually makes sense.  Cameras inside the door of the refrigerator allow you to view the contents on your smartphone while you are at the supermarket, so you can check remotely on whether you need milk or any other item for that matter.  Suddenly an idea that initially sounded dumb is one that I can easily envision changing consumer behavior.

CES is full of such ideas that through iteration eventually make sense and change consumer behavior.  At Active, we are most interested in the consumer behavior changes and ideas that impact our advertising strategies.  Looking back at my previous CES blog posts from the last two years, we identified trends that continue but are more likely to accelerate in 2016 and beyond.  Here are three key trends to watch:

  1. Video consumption will continue to increase because of the relentless proliferation of screens. What we saw at CES were the potential for incremental screens beyond smartphones, tablets and traditional TV screens, in places we do not see them now.  The aforementioned Samsung refrigerator’s screen is a 21.5” display that can mirror your TV.  Sony showed off a variety of use cases for projectors that are self-contained units with streaming capabilities and can be placed in areas you would not necessarily want to mount a screen (e.g. ceiling above your bed, small space on a blank wall etc.)  Panasonic demonstrated a Transparent Display TV, a translucent glass on a wall unit that converts to a video screen.
  1. TV ratings will continue to erode. Dish introduced a new Hopper DVR that will record up to 16 programs simultaneously.  The Hopper product is notable in that it helps viewers skip commercials and is available not only to Dish customers but also the cord-cutters targeted by Sling TV.  Viewers using Hopper or DVRs from their cable provider are enjoying the virtuous cycle that allows them to binge view and avoid commercials, essentially conditioning them to expect an ad-free experience.
  1. It’s no longer “the year of mobile”. With each passing CES, it becomes more apparent that our lives will stay tethered to our smartphones.  The much ballyhooed “Internet of Things” is not new, and much of what was showcased continued to be manufacturers allowing consumers to connect to their products.  But consumer behavior is changing and devices controlled through their smartphone is becoming an expectation rather than a want for everything from light switches, garage door openers and security cameras to baby heart-rate monitors.

Many newsworthy consumer electronics advances are now happening at different times during the year outside of CES.  Stay tuned later this year to see what materializes from all of the activity in virtual and augmented reality.


Robert Acquaotta
Robert Acquaotta, Vice President, Digital, is an industry veteran with over 25 years of experience in advertising and more than a decade in digital. From his early days at the IAB, Rob immersed himself in all things interactive, creating relationships with buy-side marketers and agency executives, evangelizing the effectiveness of online advertising and rounding out his knowledge with a deep understanding of search. Rob brings a deep belief that digital is a key driver of brand growth and results.

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