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Jan 23
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Seen and Heard at CES 2024 with Choozle CEO Adam Woods

Themed ‘All ON’, The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2024, produced by the Consumer Technology Association (CTA), has reclaimed its position as the tech industry’s epicenter. Gary Shapiro, president and CEO of the CTA, emphasizes the evolving landscape, stating, “Every company must become a tech company,” a sentiment echoed by the diverse array of exhibitors at CES 2024. In this exploration of the event, we delve into the numbers, hot topics, and key takeaways for retail, streaming, AI, and advertising, shedding light on the ever-evolving world of technology.

CES 2024 By the Numbers

As we reflect on CES 2024, the sheer magnitude of the event is apparent through the numbers that define its scale and influence.

  • 2.5+ million net square feet of exhibits, 15% larger than CES 2023
  • 4,300+ exhibitors, including 1,400+ startups
  • 135,000+ attendees from 150 countries, regions, and territories
  • 5,000+ global media and content creators
  • 60% of Fortune 500 companies
  • 250+ conference sessions with 1,000+ speakers

What were the hot topics at CES 2024?

The conference highlighted advancements in digital health, Generative AI, sustainability, gaming, vehicle tech, cybersecurity, the future of money, space tech, streaming, and identity solutions as Google begins to deprecate third-party cookies.

Personally, it was interesting for me to hear the widespread optimism around what 2024 has in store. Nearly everyone I spoke with is looking at much better growth in 2024 than we saw last year. Across the board, there was excitement about the potential of new solutions in the marketplace and the opportunities that would come with the tectonic shifts in our industry.

Top of Mind for Digital Advertising Professionals

  • The deprecation of 3rd party cookies.
  • Continued adoption of streaming television with massive shifts in viewership habits.
  • Persistent consumer demand for authentic brand engagement.
  • How media responds to the changing ways people make purchases.

Artificial intelligence (AI) Was Everywhere

CES 2024 showcased widespread excitement about AI, with major brands and startups unveiling new AI applications. The commercialization of AI emerged as a significant theme as innovators transitioned from data centers to user-centric and immediate edge applications.

The event featured AI chatbots for diverse uses, from cars and bikes to smart TVs and personal devices. While AI was a prominent topic, some mature tech companies focused on embedding AI into larger solutions rather than highlighting it as a single point of differentiation. Sir Martin Sorrell, CEO of S4 Capital, expressed optimism about AI’s impact on marketing but found AI-enabled products like smart refrigerators disappointing.

Concerns were also raised about generative AI enabling misinformation during the election year, prompting discussions on addressing risks. A bipartisan panel of U.S. senators discussed Congress’s 2024 priorities for AI, emphasizing transparency and data privacy. Startups showcased AI applications in fintech and analyzing patent data. The event highlighted AI’s role in spatial computing, with notable announcements from companies like Sony and Apple. Tech Futurist Cathy Hackl identified AI models as crucial building blocks for 3D-centric computing in VR and mixed reality headsets, marking 2024 as the “year of vision” for AI.

Technology Innovation in Retail

In the spotlight of Walmart’s CES 2024 keynote, CEO Doug McMillon unveiled the company’s vision as a “people-led, tech-powered omnichannel retailer.” This underscores Walmart’s commitment to technology innovation in the retail sector, distinguishing it from Amazon’s challenges in seamlessly integrating digital advancements with traditional retail. McMillon showcased Walmart’s dedication to aligning technology with human needs through initiatives like ‘Scan & Go’ and the ‘In Home Replacement’ service.

Accompanied by Microsoft Chairman and CEO Satya Nadella, the two introduced groundbreaking AI innovations, notably the generative AI-powered search function and the ‘My Assistant’ app. This collaboration emphasizes both Walmart’s and Microsoft’s leadership roles in defining the future of retail, highlighting cutting-edge solutions, and leveraging Microsoft’s Azure OpenAI Service for logistics and customer-centric technology applications.

There appears to be a huge challenge for the brands to understand how to allocate their precious marketing resources. In particular, a brand selling across multiple retailers must now enhance its understanding of how it collaborates with each retail media network. This involves navigating contracted minimums, strategically allocating dollars, and determining optimal spending, not merely from a channel perspective but also considering specific channels and networks.

Acceleration of Streaming and Connected TV (CTV)

This year’s CES saw a significant presence of streaming platforms, with Netflix returning after six years and Disney unveiling new ad formats for a more engaging and simplified consumer experience. Panel discussions, including “The New Streaming Formula,” emphasized the industry’s shift from broadcasting to narrowcasting, highlighting a focus on simplicity and tailored content.

Lisa Valentino, Executive Vice President, Client and Brand Solutions at Disney, emphasized the success of bundling Hulu with Disney+ and ESPN, meeting consumers’ preferences for a unified app experience. Discussions also explored identity solutions to enhance streaming ad addressability, especially with Google phasing out third-party cookies. Despite this, concerns were raised about the industry’s overall readiness for this transition, with some experts expressing that brands might be lagging in addressing cookie deprecation and privacy sandbox challenges.

Disney presented its latest research, Generation Stream, revealing that a significant majority of families (77%) engage in shared viewing experiences, encompassing specific shows, seasonal content, or sports. Despite streaming’s personalized nature, certain content genres consistently bring families together in a communal viewing setting.

For advertisers, the challenge lies in effectively targeting and measuring these co-viewing groups within family, friend, and household dynamics. This sharply contrasts mobile platforms, where a single user is typically assumed to be behind the screen. The challenge, therefore, is adapting advertising strategies to align with the distinct dynamics of shared streaming experiences.

Data-driven Creative is Now Essential for Marketers and Advertisers

One thing is certain: organizations and brands need to get personal to succeed now and in the coming years. The importance of data-driven creative cannot be overstated for advertisers and marketers. This method involves a deep analysis of various data points, including consumer behaviors, preferences, and demographics, to inform the customization of ad content. The core tenet of data-driven creative is personalization, where marketers craft dynamic and targeted creative elements, such as images, copy, and messaging, to resonate with specific audience segments.

Key aspects of data-driven creative include:

  1. Audience Segmentation: Analyzing data to identify distinct audience segments with specific characteristics, preferences, and behaviors.
  2. Personalization: Customizing ad creative elements (such as images, copy, and messaging) to align with the preferences and interests of different audience segments.
  3. Dynamic Content: Creating dynamic ad content that can be adjusted in real-time based on user interactions, location, demographics, or other data points.
  4. Testing and Optimization: Using data to conduct A/B testing and optimize creative elements for better performance, ensuring the advertising resonates with the target audience.
  5. Performance Analytics: Monitoring the performance of creative assets through data analytics, allowing advertisers to make data-driven decisions to improve effectiveness.

Overall, data-driven creative aims to enhance the relevance and impact of advertising by tailoring content to the specific needs and preferences of individual consumers or audience segments.

The Growing Need for Outcomes in Retail Media

There was an excellent session put on by Skai presenting research they did with the Path to Purchase Institute about the state of retail media. My biggest takeaway was a comment from the panel around brands wanting to really understand the incremental return on advertising spend (ROAS) that they were getting across retailers.

Moving a purchase from one retailer to another doesn’t help the brand at all. The conversation is about the critical distinction between simply shifting purchases from one retailer to another and the more strategic goal of not only retaining customers but also acquiring new ones while incrementally boosting product sales. This strategic shift reflects a deeper focus on optimizing advertising strategies to drive meaningful business outcomes in the retail space.

Navigating The Evolving Media Landscape With Choozle

The most widely used vowels of the week during CES were AI. No conversation was devoid of it and many of the sessions centered on it. However, one of the best framings of its application at scale came from Walmart CEO Doug McMillon, “People led, tech powered,” reorienting us to think a little harder about how we use technology to serve people. This core tenant resonated with me as we’ve transformed Choozle over the last few years, making a tighter connection between how our technology is in service to our people and business partners and not the other way around.

We’ve seen the types of breakthrough productivity improvements that AI-infused solutions can deliver. Over the last 12 months, AI predictive features have improved our media yield by 25%, redefining the conversation on margin and non-working media cost.

Given we spend a lot of time in retail media these days, it’s exciting to see the continued convergence between search and programmatic and some of the innovative ways CTV is being better integrated. The growing adoption of retail media continues to drive consideration of outcomes-based media metrics against both brand and shopper spend. The acceleration in CTV adoption within this is further expanding this – something we’re actively addressing at Choozle.

Interested in Having a Conversation?
Discover how Choozle, your strategic partner in navigating the modern media landscape can help with strategic planning and precision media buying. Schedule a conversation today.

About the author:
Adam Woods is the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and held two other roles at Choozle — Chief Client Officer and Chief Technology Officer. Throughout his tenure at Choozle, he has been improving the way that advertisers buy media through the Choozle platform. He has led initiatives to ensure that Choozle leads the space in terms of being a consultative partner that helps ensure the effective deployment of media through a combination of omni-channel planning, targeting best practices, upfront goal setting, and effective measurement.

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