After 50 years, is CES still relevant?
Virtual reality (VR) headsets, $9,000 laptops, self-driving cars and an array of unexpected gadgets appeared at yet another CES to grab the world’s attention – and we were there to help drive relevance for our clients at this monster showcase. This event has evolved since its introduction in New York 50 years ago, and so has the way brands and media are seizing this key moment in time.
We dispatched a dozen of our tech-obsessed Goliners onsite to support our clients using the Golin Bridge for real-time news and trend identification – as well as our Relevance-obsessed analytics teams. We’ve developed five key takeaways from this year’s show.
1. CES is becoming a more impactful global platform for unveiling products. The show continues to grow – and the numbers prove it:
- 175,000 + industry attendees
- 3,800+ exhibiting companies across three Tech Zones in nearby hotels and conference centers, representing more than 2.6 million square feet of floor space
- 6,500+ media attending and reporting from the show
- ~1.4 million mentions using #CES2017 hashtags during the show
- Nine keynote sessions and countless panels on topics
- 55,000+ international attendees from 150 countries
2. New gadgets and the latest emerging trends at CES go virtual. This year’s most relevant new product trends:
- The sheer amount of new Virtual Reality (VR) products was a reminder that this sector is exploding. In fact, the Consumer Technology Association (CTA) predicts that VR headsets shipments will increase by 79 percent, compared to last year. HTC stood out among a crowd with its new Vive Tracker, which enables motion tracking in new form from partners – baseball bats, fire hose, haptics gloves and more.
- Robots, robots, robots … with artificial intelligence (AI) becoming a trend in everything from basic home gadgetry and robots to autonomous cars, smart homes and smart buildings. There’s even a robot that can fold your laundry or a somewhat creepy Professor Einstein to teach kids about science.
- Who needs the Detroit Auto Show when you have CES and Amazon? Self-driving cars prevailed this year with most auto manufacturers and technology providers such as Intel, Nvidia, Samsung and others talking about new wares. Making cars smarter with the integration of personal digital assistance was evidenced by Ford and others who announced deals with Amazon to incorporate Alexa into their vehicles.
- Homes got even smarter with digital personal assistants appearing in updated products like Samsung’s Family Hub refrigerator, which integrates with GrubHub and the Ring video doorbell, containing Texas Instruments (client) technology.
3. Disruption and unexpected competition breaks through the noise. Brands that stood out from the rest:
Carnival Corp., (client) and company you wouldn’t expect at a tech show, grabbed top billing at CES and in headlines on day one. CEO Arnold Donald made history as the first travel industry executive to deliver the opening keynote and unveiled the Ocean Medallion, a first-of-its-kind wearable device that enables every guest to have a personal digital concierge to maximize each guest’s experience. It will debut aboard the Regal Princess in November 2017.
Tinder, a U.S. dating app, set up an announcement using VR, but it was a prank. The dating app company’s booth rigged a stunt based off the hot VR trend. Booth visitors peered into the multi-person headset, and instead of looking at VR, they were looking into another person’s eyes. Was there a love match the old fashioned way?
iHome’s invite-only booth was a trend many brands on the show floor replicated. Attracting booth traffic by planning it out in advance gives marketers and media an opportunity to connect.
- Chinese manufacturers used CES as a springboard. A large wave of Chinese manufacturers made a strong push at this year’s show, including the Huawei keynote where it unveiled its flagship smartphone, the Mate 9. In addition, Xiaomi also used CES to showcase just released Mi Mix smartphone.
4. Automotive and VR captured the most buzz. Twitter trends and online conversations:
At a high level, overall conversation volume at CES generated a lower amount of conversations than 2016, with about 1.13 Million (about 1 mill from Twitter) in 2017 vs. 1.42 Million (1.3 Million from Twitter) in 2016.
Automotive and VR lead the way in daily Twitter mentions, averaging about 20K each daily. From the nearly 66,000 CES conversations, technology company Intel really does it all – virtual reality, new compute card, AI entertainment with Comcast, “car of tomorrow” concept with BMW, gaming technology with Corsair and more.
Smaller player Nvidia isn’t far behind Intel, thanks to its day one keynote speech that featured the Mass Effect gameplay trailer. Its partnership with Audi for AI cars and new NVIDIA shield (that delivers 4K HDR gaming) also contribute to strong volume of mentions on Twitter.
The first two days of CES garnered the bulk of most impactful brand and product announcements. When looking deeper, the most retweeted announcements came from Intel with its BMW partnership to create “car of tomorrow” and Mercedes with its “Electric Intelligence Concept Car.” After the second day, Twitter conversations declined considerably with most brands focusing on follow-up content.
5. CES continues to serve as a platform for experimentation. Traditional media outlets and brands connected with their audiences in new ways:
- USA Today showed off their approach to VR/AR content at CES and highlighted their recently launched weekly VR series. They’re working to equip Gannett-owned media entities with everything they need for VR content capture for editorial in the next few years. And what’s next? Brand integration for VR, which currently ranges from $100-200K, depending on the experience, campaign and brand integration. We expect to see more of this from other outlets throughout 2017 and at CES 2018.
- Weibo and Wechat were featured as top social media channels.
- Snapchat filters were a bit disappointing. The Snapchat Spectacles vending machine bot was spotted at CES. From a media/reporting standpoint, we saw few Engadget reporters sporting them.
- Facebook Live was used by a variety of brands to give live booth tours, as well as unveil new products and announce new trends and initiatives. Media also conducted live interviews with the platform. Even TI (client), who has been exhibiting at CES since day one, used the platform to capture live video to transport the onsite experience to customers worldwide.
- Video, in general, was hot – whether it was Facebook Live or YouTube. Showcasing booths virtually for those not in attendance.
In short, the answer to whether CES is still relevant is “yes.” Each year, the experience at CES becomes even more memorable and brands and influencers look to it as a critical way to be seen and heard. The show, its attendees and our clients continue to participate in this massive event and concoct new ways to cut through the noise to garner attention and notoriety. See you in 2018, CES!
Download: Golin’s Top Five Takeaways from CES 2017