Tag Archives: International CES

Give It A Rest

Last week was CES, the big show that takes over Las Vegas.  140,000 or so folks descend to schmooze and to check out that latest technology.  I used to go every year but I can’t say as I’m disappointed not to have gone the last few.  It’s a mad house.  Mad as it may be, however, it generally gives us an indication about where technology might be heading over the next year or so.  This year, Virtual Reality was one of the biggest stories.  Cars were the other.

What’s that you ask?  I said it was a tech show, so why are cars the big thing?  Glad you asked.  You see, cars are becoming rather sophisticated computing platforms on wheels.  You might not be impressed by the 100,000+ lines of code in today’s car (Windows has tens of millions of line, for example), but that number will grow exponentially over the next couple of years as cars become more and more autonomous.  Most importantly, they will become totally connected devices.   After all, since you won’t be driving, you might want to catch up on Netflix, and not on your phone either.  Why not on the car’s screen?   In fact, since you really don’t even need to look out the windshield, why not make the window opaque and stream it there?

The notion of the car doing the driving doesn’t have me alarmed.  This does:

“Cars are essentially becoming the next must-have mobile device,” says Jason Harrison, global CEO of Gain Theory. Driverless cars open “an entirely new opportunity for advertisers. Assuming Wi-Fi-enabled cars would be targetable in the same way other devices are, they would offer high-quality targeted-audience opportunities, with an added contextual dimension such as parents and kids on the way to school, daily commutes and so on.”

I’m not sure what has me looking at this askance.  Maybe it’s the notion that everything has to be a receptacle for someone’s marketing message?  My car is not the subway.  While NYC Transit sells ads (in theory to help offset the costs of your ride), I’m not welcoming marketers into my vehicle.  Where is the attention/value exchange?  How does  the fact that marketers are paying the navigation system to come to the nearest Dunkin Donuts help me? How is yet another invasion of my privacy helpful? What other system preferences will be set based on an exchange of money that excluded me, the car buyer?

We need to learn when to give it a rest, folks.  No one wants to install an ad blocker in their car – isn’t that what the buttons on a radio are for?  Instead of rubbing our hands in anticipation of yet another trackable environment for marketing, maybe we ought to be thinking about what the benefit to the consumer will be for letting us into their daily drive?  Instead of thinking of cars as a “one-ton cookie” (as in the code dropped into your browser to track you), maybe we need to think if them as a place where we can reset our relationship to consumers and raise their expectations about the value of good marketing.  Thoughts?

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Swimming And Synchronizing

There were a number of interesting things to come out of last week’s CES. Curved TV’s, self-driving cars, and stun-guns built into your phone case are a few of the more notable ones and there’s been quite a bit of press on many others.

English: New company logo.

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Most of those interesting things, however, don’t offer up opportunities for new businesses. One thing does in my mind, however, and that is the data coming out of a study conducted jointly by the folks that run CES – the Consumer electronics Association – and the National Association of Television Program Executives.  They conducted a study of consumers last October about how those consumers were using second screens to engage with video content.  What they found is the sound of opportunity knocking:

Of the Second Screen users surveyed, 79 percent access a second device while watching TV programming. Nearly all Second Screen viewers access asynchronous program content, either right before watching a show, right after watching, or between episodes/seasons, which offers a strong opportunity for program brands to increase loyalty and keep viewers engaged and watching even when shows are not on the air.

Only 42 percent of Second Screen users have tried synchronizing their content experience to live TV. According to the survey, synchronized content available for TV programs does not generate strong positive perceptions – only 13 percent of respondents said it makes their program viewing experience “much more enjoyable.” The majority of users said synchronized content makes their viewing experience “somewhat more enjoyable,” considering it less of a necessity than a “nice to have” for certain types of programs. More than half of those who access synchronous Second Screen content do so during commercials, so there is an opportunity to provide synchronized content that can be easily and quickly accessed during commercial air time.

In other words, many of us (actually MOST of us) are using some sort of second screen device but in general we’re not using that screen to enhance our viewing experience and no one has yet cracked the code on engaging viewers across multiple screens and devices.  For example – why wouldn’t a cooking show push out the recipe being made at the moment along with definitions of terms with which viewers may be unfamiliar, places to buy hard to find ingredients (maybe at a discount – partnership opportunity!) and links to other recipes that go along with what’s being made?  I’m aware all of those things can be done through the web site, but this is more about content providers being proactive and not the viewer having to do all the work.

What I especially like about this study is that it reminds all business folks that the ubiquity of mobile devices and tablets has changed pretty much everything.  If something as familiar as watching TV has been disrupted, what’s the effect been in your business and, more importantly, how can you use that change to your advantage?  How well we sink or swim as business people depends on the answer.

We’re starting to see more of this sort of activity. There is live, in-show voting on a number of programs and a number of sports applications try to integrate themselves with what’s going on in-game.  But as the study shows synchronizing program content with second screen content  is really a large opportunity over the next few years.  Someone (or multiple businesses) is going to crack the code, write the app, and swim very well.  You?

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No Success Without CES

The first big event of the new year is under way in Las Vegas.

Consumer Electronics Show

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It’s the annual CES which used to stand for Consumer Electronics Show but I’m told that since the show has gone way beyond consumer electronics it’s just CES.  As the Wall Street Journal wrote the show

grew up around devices like television sets and stereos sold by distributors and retailers…but it has continually morphed to add new classes of products and companies that don’t fit the classic consumer-electronics description.

“Huge” doesn’t begin to describe it.  125,000 or more people attend and hour-long waits for cabs are common while reservations at most of the better Vegas restaurants are rare.  After a few days, your feet hurt from walking the more than 1.92 million net square feet of exhibit space as does your head from the non-stop loud environment.

I used to love to go despite the drawbacks.  It was at CES I saw my first e-reader and was shown the first “connected” TV in a hush-hush meeting with one of the TV manufacturers.  While both those things are common now, they were brand spanking new business opportunities at the time and got us thinking about how we could grow our business, that of our partners, and enrich our mutual customers’ lives.  The “next big things” this year are supposed to focus on wearable, drivable and mobile-controllable technologies.  We’ll see how that all plays out.

You might be wondering why I raise this.  After all, while you might have a passing interest in CES, for the most part you and your business might have nothing at all to do with curved TV screens or wired cars or toasters that can send you a text.  Fair enough.  CES was always a chance to think out of the box.  What possibilities opened up based on what I was seeing at the show?  My point is this:  the start of the new year is a perfect time to take a step out of the routine and take a look around.  Search out a show or a conference or a meeting of your industry that will let you see something new.  Use what you see to think big thoughts.  After all, much of what is at CES was someone’s pipe dream or maybe even “impossible” not very long ago.

Even though I’m not at the show this year, I’ll read the reports and maybe even watch some of the live streaming taking place.  You can’t spell “success” without using “ces”.  This inquiring mind wants to know more.  Yours?

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