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CES 2019: From Newbie to “Regular”

CES 2019: From Newbie to “Regular”

Kate Easterling

Kate Easterling

January 23, 2019

Havas’ Kate Easterling on her first CES experience.

CES. The week-long, nearly-200,000-tech-enthusiast-descent upon Las Vegas for one of the largest (and most impressive) trade shows in the world. For media and advertising leaders, this is an opportunity to partner with clients to experience a variety of new products and technology yet to hit the market. Havas alone had over 80 clients and agency leads in attendance, representing a variety of disciplines spanning our media and creative business units.

As a first-timer, the 4,500+ exhibitions spread over a 3-mile strip was incredibly overwhelming. No matter how much prep work I did, nothing could have prepared me for the scale. There was almost too much to do (not to mention that most of the real “action” happens behind the scenes – at private demos, exclusive dinners, and in branded suites).

Within the first hour, I was told (by a “regular”) that I had committed the three deadly sins of CES – no charger, no flats, no hand sanitizer. And from there it quickly became clear that to balance my work commitments with just being able to explore the show, I would need to pace myself, and therefore I focused on attending one new area of focus per day.

For me it all boils down to two core aspects: speaking panels and demo booths.

Speaking Panels

Personally, I found that a lot of speakers were presenting similar content to what we would encounter at other industry events (Advertising Week, ANA, etc.) and to be perfectly honest there wasn’t much “new news.” The only notable panel I was able to attend was with S4 Capital – Sir Martin Sorrell’s new venture with MediaMonks and MightyHive.

Sir Martin and his team talked openly about their operating model, trends in the marketplace, and plans for growth. From a new business perspective, this was very interesting because their proposed integrated “faster, better, cheaper” model will be disruptive to the current holding company model.

Demo Booths

The real jewels that set this conference apart from others were the “floors” with thousands of demo booths, housed by category (connected home, robotics, transportation, etc.). The only problem was, it could be a bit like finding a needle in the haystack, as each category is saturated with similar technology and products. The world only needs so many voice-activated toilets!

One way around this is to attend (or even organize) private tours, which distill many hours (even days) of exploration into just a few hours. This trend originated when GroupM’s legendary (and now retired) Irwin Gotlieb started taking key clients and agency leaders to the event nearly 20 years ago. Now, it seems to be a staple, with some media companies and publishers even commoditizing it, selling tickets for thousands of dollars.

Best Branded Activations

As a marketer at heart, there were a few booths that stood out to me:

  •     P&G’s LifeLab – A huge booth showcasing connected devices designed to improve the use of their products in your everyday life, including an AI skin scanner!
  •     Amazon – Forget booths. Amazon presented a dedicated room filled with Alexa-integrated gadgets and divided into behavioral categories (work, kitchen, home, etc.). From dog bowls to doorbells…It’s even getting integrated into cars!
  •     Google – The Bay Area tech giant upped the ante even further by taking over the parking lot and installing a two-story pop-up complete with roller coaster.
  •     LG – Arguably the most Instagrammable experience was LG’s booth, featuring an 8K TV waterfall wall. LG took home over 140 awards for their tech.
  •     Panasonic – The activation featured multiple B2B and B2C technologies for show-goers to engage with, like their “physical mirror” that predicts lifestyle attributes.

Key Themes

Advances in Retail – For both the consumer and the retailer, technology will have a large effect on the physical retail space. Specifically, on the B2B side, Alibaba and JD.com demonstrated apps and physical products that could affect payment and behavioral forecasting. Now it’s a race to space on who will be the first to integrate it at scale.

Voice Activation – With Google Assistant now integrated into 10K devices and 1.6K brands, and Amazon Alexa in 20K devices and 3.5K brands, it’s no surprise the war over voice rages on. Right now, the average consumer uses voice for “information-light” purposes (e.g., “Alexa, what is the weather today?”); however, the shift to more meaningful integration is key, with focuses on voice as a core component of products and voice to drive transaction. While it’s unarguably the future, sometimes it felt like tech for the sake of tech – for example, the voice-activated smart toilet I mentioned earlier.

Connected Home – There were thousands of booths dedicated to this category, with subgroups like baby, lighting, sound, etc. Overall though, few companies have a holistic solution that isn’t dependent on Google or Amazon. Furthermore, the products seemed fragmented, solving for one “human truth” at a time – I counted 12 companies with “smart” doorbell or doorman-like features, for goodness sake!  And while it’s estimated that 90 percent of U.S. consumers own a smart home device, only time will tell who can deliver a holistic connected home solution.

Keep in mind, I’ve distilled this down to what’s applicable to our business (although if you’d like to discuss motorcycle-like drones and underwater scooters, let me know). For a more in-depth look check out Sargi Mann’s takeaways.

All in all, it was a fantastic experience and I would highly recommend attending if you have the opportunity. My advice? Schedule as much you can in advance and focus your agenda on what matters most for your clients in the technology and innovation space.

Also, bring a charger, hand sanitizer, and flats.

CES. The week-long, nearly-200,000-tech-enthusiast-descent upon Las Vegas for one of the largest (and most impressive) trade shows in the world. For media and advertising leaders, this is an opportunity to partner with clients to experience a variety of new products and technology yet to hit the market. Havas alone had over 80 clients and agency leads in attendance, representing a variety of disciplines spanning our media and creative business units.

As a first-timer, the 4,500+ exhibitions spread over a 3-mile strip was incredibly overwhelming. No matter how much prep work I did, nothing could have prepared me for the scale. There was almost too much to do (not to mention that most of the real “action” happens behind the scenes – at private demos, exclusive dinners, and in branded suites).

Within the first hour, I was told (by a “regular”) that I had committed the three deadly sins of CES – no charger, no flats, no hand sanitizer. And from there it quickly became clear that to balance my work commitments with just being able to explore the show, I would need to pace myself, and therefore I focused on attending one new area of focus per day.

For me it all boils down to two core aspects: speaking panels and demo booths.

Speaking Panels

Personally, I found that a lot of speakers were presenting similar content to what we would encounter at other industry events (Advertising Week, ANA, etc.) and to be perfectly honest there wasn’t much “new news.” The only notable panel I was able to attend was with S4 Capital – Sir Martin Sorrell’s new venture with MediaMonks and MightyHive.

Sir Martin and his team talked openly about their operating model, trends in the marketplace, and plans for growth. From a new business perspective, this was very interesting because their proposed integrated “faster, better, cheaper” model will be disruptive to the current holding company model.

Demo Booths

The real jewels that set this conference apart from others were the “floors” with thousands of demo booths, housed by category (connected home, robotics, transportation, etc.). The only problem was, it could be a bit like finding a needle in the haystack, as each category is saturated with similar technology and products. The world only needs so many voice-activated toilets!

One way around this is to attend (or even organize) private tours, which distill many hours (even days) of exploration into just a few hours. This trend originated when GroupM’s legendary (and now retired) Irwin Gotlieb started taking key clients and agency leaders to the event nearly 20 years ago. Now, it seems to be a staple, with some media companies and publishers even commoditizing it, selling tickets for thousands of dollars.

Best Branded Activations

As a marketer at heart, there were a few booths that stood out to me:

  •     P&G’s LifeLab – A huge booth showcasing connected devices designed to improve the use of their products in your everyday life, including an AI skin scanner!
  •     Amazon – Forget booths. Amazon presented a dedicated room filled with Alexa-integrated gadgets and divided into behavioral categories (work, kitchen, home, etc.). From dog bowls to doorbells…It’s even getting integrated into cars!
  •     Google – The Bay Area tech giant upped the ante even further by taking over the parking lot and installing a two-story pop-up complete with roller coaster.
  •     LG – Arguably the most Instagrammable experience was LG’s booth, featuring an 8K TV waterfall wall. LG took home over 140 awards for their tech.
  •     Panasonic – The activation featured multiple B2B and B2C technologies for show-goers to engage with, like their “physical mirror” that predicts lifestyle attributes.

Key Themes

Advances in Retail – For both the consumer and the retailer, technology will have a large effect on the physical retail space. Specifically, on the B2B side, Alibaba and JD.com demonstrated apps and physical products that could affect payment and behavioral forecasting. Now it’s a race to space on who will be the first to integrate it at scale.

Voice Activation – With Google Assistant now integrated into 10K devices and 1.6K brands, and Amazon Alexa in 20K devices and 3.5K brands, it’s no surprise the war over voice rages on. Right now, the average consumer uses voice for “information-light” purposes (e.g., “Alexa, what is the weather today?”); however, the shift to more meaningful integration is key, with focuses on voice as a core component of products and voice to drive transaction. While it’s unarguably the future, sometimes it felt like tech for the sake of tech – for example, the voice-activated smart toilet I mentioned earlier.

Connected Home – There were thousands of booths dedicated to this category, with subgroups like baby, lighting, sound, etc. Overall though, few companies have a holistic solution that isn’t dependent on Google or Amazon. Furthermore, the products seemed fragmented, solving for one “human truth” at a time – I counted 12 companies with “smart” doorbell or doorman-like features, for goodness sake!  And while it’s estimated that 90 percent of U.S. consumers own a smart home device, only time will tell who can deliver a holistic connected home solution.

Keep in mind, I’ve distilled this down to what’s applicable to our business (although if you’d like to discuss motorcycle-like drones and underwater scooters, let me know). For a more in-depth look check out Sargi Mann’s takeaways.

All in all, it was a fantastic experience and I would highly recommend attending if you have the opportunity. My advice? Schedule as much you can in advance and focus your agenda on what matters most for your clients in the technology and innovation space.

Also, bring a charger, hand sanitizer, and flats.

Kate Easterling is the Global New Business Manager for Havas Creative Group. She is based out of New York City and has been with Havas since 2018.

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