Every year, the behemoth homage to technology that is The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) highlights the pace of development within the digital and technology worlds. The show brings with it new demonstrations that both reflect, and indeed shape, the future lives of consumers.
Although CES might traditionally be seen as the reserve of consumer-facing companies looking to flaunt their best innovations, it is also an excellent place for advertisers, adtech vendors and brands to learn about how the consumers of tomorrow will be communicating - and, in turn, how best to communicate with them. In fact, the worlds of marketing and technology are now so inextricably linked, that one of the largest groups to attend CES in 2018 was the advertising and entertainment communities - of which 33,346 attended.
While there’s no doubt new technology is helping brands reach consumers in novel ways, two trends at this year’s CES will be of particular interest to digital marketers, thanks to their potential to alter the way we do business both now and in the not-too-distant future.
One such development was Artificial intelligence (AI). As the host organisation of CES stated, AI is ‘’everything’’ now, and has already infiltrated the consumer experience on so many levels. In fact, nearly 500 companies exhibited products featuring AI at this year’s show, ranging from tech-centric brands like Intel and IBM to less obvious players such as agricultural company John Deere.
Among the most highly anticipated AI tools from this years’ show was Google’s AI-powered, voice-activated Google Assistant, with built-in ability to translate languages instantaneously. To accompany its creation, the company built a three-minute miniature roller coaster, which led riders through a day-in-the-life with Google Assistant, from navigating morning traffic to picking up a birthday cake for grandma (including translation help for the French-speaking baker).
But while AI-powered voice activation certainly had its place at CES this year, we also saw a surge in products and services pushing the boundaries around AI-powered visual communication. Indeed, the convergence of visual data and contextual awareness – from self-driving suitcases, to self-labelling fridges - was perhaps one of the most exciting trends at CES this year.
Retail giant Procter & Gamble, for example, revealed it has been working on its ‘’Olay Future You Simulation’’ - an app which uses an algorithm to show users what their skin and face will look like in the future under different scenarios. Meanwhile, in the gaming world, Tobii unleashed a “Gaming Eye Tracking Experience,” an eye tracking solution implemented in users’ computer screens that creates a heat map of where the eyes are looking, to boost focus in-game.
This surge in visual-based products and services comes as a direct response to the demand from consumers for brand and communication experiences that prioritise videos and images over text.
Digital communication has been transitioning from a text-based to a visual medium for some time - driven largely by the popularity of image-based apps like Snapchat, and Instagram. And with Google announcing intentions in recent months to make its platform more visually accessible this year, it’s no surprise to see brands taking note of this, and building products and services that optimise computer vision technology.
So what does all this mean for today’s marketers? Well, as AI and computer vision continue to weave their way into the lives and devices of consumers there will be increasing competition between brands looking to use this technology to access consumers.
Marketers must, therefore, be ahead of the curve when it comes to understanding how AI and Computer Vision works and its potential impact on the digital world. They will be under pressure to navigate and safeguard against the potential pitfalls this new technology will bring. Brands, meanwhile, will be on the lookout for the talent to help them understand this new phase of the web and its gradual evolution.
When it comes to engaging consumers through innovation, we’re only just seeing the beginning of what’s possible. With so many incredible technological developments on their way, we can guarantee 2019 will be the most exciting year yet for digital marketers.