First published in The Drum – click HERE
You only write these titles when you spend a few days at CES. When you return to the day job you realise that it is an impossible title. Billions of pounds of spend across too many channels you care to think of. That can’t be wrong. And it’s getting bigger almost every year.
No, advertising is not dead. But the whole point of shows like CES is to make you think differently, to look at the world through tech-tinted glasses. It forces you to listen to thousands of people who are not encumbered by the past, not designing for the here and now.
These people are concentrated on only one thing – the future. Some of them well into the future, one that has no room for presenting ads to millions of people in one go. They just don’t care about that caveman approach to advertising. They are designing a future that is built around the human being connected to everything they use and consume and who is hard wired to the world around them. As Gary Shapiro said, “the show is about moving us forward”.
There are thousands of column inches filled with articles on the tech itself, but when you take a step back and consider the connected home, the connected car, tracking devices, health and wellbeing apps, virtual reality design, we are moving more and more towards a world designed around us, around me. The space to broadcast is being reduced. Despite this, advertising today is still broadcast. Even what we call ‘targeted’ advertising is really not that targeted.
Yet simultaneously, technology is allowing us to customise our world around us. As someone who travels a lot, it is with a heavy heart that I sit through another Lebara ad while watching an in-flight film, the same one I have seen 50 times, knowing I am never going to pick up a SIM at the airport when I arrive. The likes of Facebook and Google know so much about me and yet I still see junk ads at every turn.
Our physical experiences are driving our commercial choices to the extent that advertising is being squeezed and advertisers need to evolve and integrate into a new generation of consumers.
Take the CPG category and the common fridge. Advertisers push messages telling you to fill up that fridge but the fridge is getting clever. It’s connecting to multiple data sources and information It can now keep tabs on what it has inside, making it best placed to answer your questions about what you need to buy. Now I don’t want to have my world ruled by my fridge but if I can’t remember if I need to buy milk as I stand in the supermarket aisle, then it’s the perfect opportunity for the fridge to suggest options pre-purchase based on my lifestyle.
Think buying comparison sites or TripAdvisor for all your food stuffs. LG HomeChat, for example, allows the basic part of that equation, where one can text their white goods. It’s only a matter of time before it goes that last mile. Advertisers and retailers will need to be a part of that.
The fridge is an example, but the car will be the same. Just as you are told your tyres need replacing by the man in the garage, would it not be more useful to have your car suggest which tyre you should buy and at the best price. In the case of Range Rover’s connected app which tells you your fuel range and when you need to fill up, it’s only a matter of time before it can tell you where to fill up at the cheapest price locally.
The internet of things will hold so much information that our worlds and choices within it will be determined by us and the information we hold rather than something as far reaching as the Super Bowl ad. Right now we still have a plethora of connected ecosystems (although they are being concentrated on a few big operating systems), but over time we will see our ability to combine data sources become more seamless and without the need to re-qualify as a data scientist. Merging my health data with my weekly shopping list will mean I can design my eating habits around my health and companies who integrate themselves into these ecosystems will be the winners.
The examples are endless but the trend is here, we are moving to an uber-sophisticated world of CRM but facilitated through technology and apps rather than address databases.
CES has the ability to make you rethink everything and as you see the potential personalisation opportunities of technology, and the ambition of the 200,000 start-ups that joined CES, you realise that our current day advertising looks one step ahead of cave drawings. Companies like Samsung, LG, Mercedes and Audi are all starting on that journey alongside Google with Nest and Facebook who are fully aware of the opportunity.
Ultimately we will shape our own destiny and relationship with brands over time as we continue to get closer to the images we are used to seeing in sci-fi movies.