CES, which wrapped its 57th-year last week in Las Vegas, is known as the nerdy tech show where hundreds of new innovative products are introduced to the marketplace. The products are fun, (mostly) useful, and designed to solve problems by using smart design or groundbreaking feats of engineering. Like E3 and other businesses that require direct human interaction, CES was deeply impacted by COVID-19. Gradually, this 57-year-old event has resiliently bounced back towards a sense of normality. This means it now encompasses an extensive setup, covering both the Las Vegas and Venetian convention centers, along with numerous ballrooms and meeting spaces on the Strip. Although it may not have fully regained its pre-pandemic stature, it’s a place to see and be seen.
Push the boundaries of what constitutes your “industry”
Of course, CES will always be a cornerstone for consumer electronics, but the Consumer Technology Association, which runs the event, welcomes a diverse range of exhibitors, from major corporations to startups and government entities. This open-door policy not only keeps the event vibrant but also reflects the modern era’s challenge in pigeonholing technology into distinct categories.
Take inspiration from Walmart. The retail giant’s CES 2024 booth was a massive two-story structure, that showcased advanced retail technologies, blurring the lines between consumer tech, retail logistics, and enterprise AI. This variety, extending to robotics, smartphones, and automotive tech, might seem jumbled, yet it’s this inclusivity that keeps CES relevant. Walmart showed up with a unique point of view and delivered on the assignment, but it also earned a lot of media attention because consumers and competitors alike wondered out loud, What’s Walmart doing there?
Experiment with experiential
An estimated 130,000 people attended CES 2024 to explore lavish booths like SK Group’s SK Wonderland, complete with a mini coaster, hydrogen-powered train, and an AI fortune teller. There were also intriguing exhibits like Netflix’s mysterious chrome box, which turned out to be a novel way to view a trailer for 3 Body Problem. But not all experiential marketing needs to have seven-figure budgets. There were simpler product showcases by smaller companies, underlining the event’s culture of excess. The immense effort put into setting up and maintaining these displays, despite their lavishness, is a testament to the hard work and dedication that underpins CES, an event as much about its extravagant displays as the technological wonders it showcases.
Remember that media, tech, and advertising are forever intertwined
The future of media, tech, and advertising — both their promise and peril — was a hot topic throughout the conference. Especially during the Variety Entertainment Summit. Hot topics included:
- Streaming services are intensifying their focus on advertising: Netflix announced an increase in their ad tier’s monthly active users. Now exceeding 23 million globally, scaling is just as important as providing meaningful experiences for members. Meanwhile, Amazon Ads revealed the upcoming introduction of ads in Prime Video, too.
- TV viewing is shifting towards internet distribution: Despite a decline in linear TV ad spending, Disney and NBCUniversal’s executives highlighted that sports remain a lucrative area. Digital platforms like Disney+, ESPN+, and Hulu are helping to redistribute ad spending effectively.
- AI is both a source of innovative creative tools and a potential threat: Google emphasized the importance of using AI tools responsibly and ethically. Then, Digital Domain expressed concerns over AI-generated human replicas. They come with serious societal implications, underscoring the need for responsible usage of AI technologies.