Three Advertising Trends to Watch from CES 2018

Patrick Hanavan  | 

Last week, representatives from some of the world’s biggest companies descended on Las Vegas for CES 2018, the annual conference and trade show focused on the latest and greatest in consumer technology. But it’s not just tech firms that are flocking to CES these days. Thanks to the role that technology now plays in today’s media landscape, it’s also an event where marketers discuss the newest innovations shaping the ad industry. What were advertising executives talking about at CES this year? Here are three takeaways.

TV has great relevance to advertisers and publishers
It’s natural to assume that as technologies like smartphones and connected TVs play a growing role in how consumers view content, linear TV would see a corresponding decline in advertiser interest. But this was not the message executives from the ad industry were sharing with CES attendees. Consider the CES advertising panel that featured executives from NBCUniversal, Hulu and National Geographic as one example. These execs agree on the sustained power of TV to reach a scale not available through other advertising channels.

“It’s still the 800-pound gorilla,” said Brendan Ripp, executive VP for Sales and Partnerships at National Geographic. Ripp noted that his employer, Fox, generated more ad revenue for Game 7 of the 2018 World Series broadcast than the most popular website at Time Inc., his previous employer, sold in an entire year. Still, as other panelists noted, TV is evolving to address the needs of today’s viewing habits as evidenced by networks making shows available via OTT and the increasing popularity of shorter, six-second, ad creative. “TV is alive and well. It’s just being redefined, redefined by viewers,” said Peter Naylor, Senior VP, Ad Sales at Hulu.

New technologies are getting advertisers’ attention
There’s no question that many media and advertising executives at this year’s CES event were quick to defend the continued staying power of TV as an effective ad medium. At the same time, many of those in attendance noted that they were excited by a number of emerging innovations with big potential for the industry. WPP CEO Martin Sorrell, for instance, highlighted the potential of artificial intelligence, machine learning and virtual reality during an interview at CES.

Ad Age also noted the growing opportunity offered by both virtual reality and augmented reality technology. 360-video, for example — a media format closely related to virtual reality, is already delivering big results for advertisers. Kevin Gentzel, chief revenue officer for Gannett’s USA Today, mentioned that a 360-video his team created for Google quickly became the company’s most-viewed piece of video content across their entire publishing network.

Advertising is becoming big business at CES
While CES is not an advertising-focused event, it has become important both for debuting new ad products and for deal-making. “It’s one of the biggest conferences in our industry, and it kicks off the year,” said Donna Speciale, President of Turner Ad Sales in an interview with Digiday. “A majority of our clients, whether it’s the agency side or the marketer side, are at this event.” Digiday also notes that companies like Turner are increasingly using CES to announce some of the company’s biggest media and advertising product launches. This year for example, the company heavily promoted Turner Sports Group to advertisers and held a two-day “Sports Business Innovation” conference featuring Twitter COO Anthony Noto and NBA stars Chris Webber and Steve Nash.

CES may have its origins as an event to learn about consumer technology. But as many advertising executives have realized, it’s also an important week for collaboration, education and conversations about the future of the industry. As video, TV and technology grow more closely linked than ever before, expect to see more advertising-themed news and business deals coming out of this increasingly important event in the years to come.

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