CES is a crystal ball providing an exciting peek at how mainstream consumers will interact with technology and brands. It is a prophetic look into the future of marketing and there are several themes that are of importance.
Voice AI is here to stay
The huge volume of gadgets that offered integration with Amazon Alexa (including televisions, fridges and alarm clocks) showed that Amazon is clearly ahead in the voice-activated speaker market. We will witness the battle of the voice platforms including Google, Microsoft and the rumoured Apple assistant.
Voice AI developments are coming as fast as autonomous vehicles. 1% of digital integrations are currently voice-activated, this will rise to 30% by 2020.
The platform battle will be won by whoever can provide seamless interaction and developer integration. This will require enormous data processing capabilities – the average person can type 40 wpm, but can speak 145 wpm.
Marketing implication: Brands will compete to be the first default recommendation in voice AI engines, eg asking for restaurants, coffee brands or movies to watch. A parallel with the early days of search engine marketing could lead to a resurgence in audio advertising via optimized suggestions and paid bidding for voice activated keywords.
Face and gesture recognition
An increasing number of technologies are specializing in facial and gesture tracking with enormous potential for marketers, including Netatmo, an outdoor camera that recognizes people, cars and animals, and eyeSight, a gesture detection unit that allows the control of experiences via finger tracking and hand gestures.
Such technologies will lead to the retail store of the future that can scan a shopper’s eyelids and irises to detect what skirt she is looking at, and understand her facial clues that indicate emotion and whether she has a strong visceral reaction to the colour red.
Shopping malls will be able to detect personality type better than a real human and direct shoppers via digital OOH to certain aspects within the mall.
Restaurants will know who you are and your favourite wine as you enter, allowing waiters (or robotic waiters) to recommend pairing options accordingly.
Marketing implication: Retailers can capture and analyze data, providing real-time personalized recommendations for products based on current emotions or actions. Posterscope USA created the world’s first responsive facial recognition campaign for General Motors that displayed one of 30 videos to shoppers based on the age, gender and facial expression.
Security, privacy and the issue of trust
Large-scale hacking in 2016 drew attention to privacy issues; Yahoo, Verizon, Dropbox, and even the Democratic National Committee were targeted.
Today’s 11 billion global connected devices will increase to 80 billion by 2025. Companies that make these devices are typically not security companies, and popular culture such as Netflix’s Black Mirror has painted an image of a distrustful, connected society.
CES featured companies dedicated to security including Bit Defender Box, a network device that prevents hacking into connected home devices.
Marketing implication: Increased scrutiny of privacy is a good thing and needs to be taken seriously by marketers. Data protection should be revered at all costs and marketers need to respect the individual with the continued evolvement of data-driven, programmatic media.
Automation and the connected-everything
The old companies you thought you knew have transformed into smart-technology companies intent on making our lives easier via automating and connecting our utilities.
The Panasonic smart kitchen features a digital kitchen wall with video recipes based on your refrigerator’s contents. A smooth, marble bench surface is transformed seamlessly into a heated stove top as a pot is moved around the surface. Once dinner is finished the Whirlpool Zera food recycler can keep a garden healthy by producing 25lbs of compost a week.
Connected cars continued their dominance at CES with new models including the breathtaking Faraday, electric ride sharing Honda and Alexa-integrated Ford. In ten years most new cars will be autonomous, and for everyone else there are after-market retrofitted autonomous kits such as Delphi.
Even the sport of fishing didn’t escape automation with the PowerRay underwater robot combining fish-detection with VR live-streamed video.
Marketing implication: Automation is changing all aspects of our lives, both as consumers and marketers. The businesses we work in today need to transform to become technology and data led.
Our job titles in as near as five years’ time will be vastly different from today. The savvy marketer will adapt, retool and retrain today to stay relevant in the future. Taken individually, these trends are exciting. When combined, they’re mind blowing.
CES gives us a glimpse into the future of marketing, one of utility, automation and deep personalization. As marketers it will no longer be acceptable to blast consumers with a one-size-fits-all approach. Our role is to provide valuable interactions, hyper-relevant to the micro moments in consumers’ lives.
In the near future, the car I’m driving will detect that I’m drowsy by analyzing my face and driving patterns. She will say "Hello Jeff, you’ve been driving for eight hours. Why don’t you stop for a coffee? There is a Starbucks 1.5 miles ahead." As I pass a digital billboard that triggers Starbucks content, I will turn into a parking lot to speak to a voice activated digital barista who already knows my order. The future of marketing is exciting.
Jeff Tan is vice president of strategy at Posterscope.