By Chris Cavanaugh, CMO, Freeman
The constant drumbeat of new technology also means constant change for marketers. So ubiquitous is change that Consumer Technology Association (CTA) President Gary Shapiro’s keynote address at the 2016 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) will touch on how the world is changing: from how we interact with each other to how tech tools help people connect. As we head into this year’s CES, marketers and consumers alike will get the first glimpses at the hottest trends and upcoming technology that will have a deep impact on brand experience and marketing.
New realities through virtual reality
Virtual reality is poised to hit it big in 2016 thanks to the influx of affordable, available consumer VR platforms. According to CTA, there has been a 77% increase in the footprint of the Gaming & Virtual Reality Marketplace at CES 2016 this year over 2015. Major players (like Facebook, Google, Sony, and Samsung) are upping their game, with many more products set to launch in the first half of the year—and most of them will be featured at CES.
Virtual reality has the potential to drastically enhance the world of live brand experiences—imagine attendees visiting museum exhibits, experiencing virtual travel, or getting a tour of a brand’s in-real-life applications, without leaving the exhibit floor. As the creation of virtual reality content becomes easier and more affordable, we have the opportunity to enhance live events in new ways, allowing us to design with a specific outcome in mind and create unique, immersive experiences that take audiences to places they’ve never been. Savvy marketers will see VR as an enhancement to the live experience versus a disruptor.
And don’t count out augmented reality! As Shelly Palmer notes, AR (augmented reality) can be much simpler for the end user, requiring only a network connection and cloud computing tools to let your audience experience something new and amazing.
Managing Big Data through the IoT
As we saw at last year’s CES, the Internet of Things continues to gain momentum as more and more devices connect to each other over the Internet. This year, a plethora of IoT-ready devices will be on display, ready to interface with wearables, mobile devices and more. And with more connected devices comes more data. Yes, Big Data is still on our minds as marketers continue to evolve their strategies for turning raw data into insights and those insights into actionable outcomes. Those of us in the brand experience business see opportunities and challenges in pulling the right story from the numbers in order to create more personalized experiences for consumers. Thankfully, this year there will be a greater focus on closing the data gap between audiences’ stated intent and their actual behavior, making data insights even more valuable to the entire ecosystem.
From a live marketing perspective, technology like location-aware beacons offers a low-cost and easy-to-deploy way for marketers to interact with attendees and collect the kind of data that organizers and exhibitors desire in order to help shape, monetize and measure the value of live experiences. If we keep customers at the center and respect their desired journey, we have a chance to deliver a win-win for brands and audiences alike.
Hyper-personalized customer experiences
Today’s consumers expect highly personalized experiences. They want us to know what they want and when they want it, and to offer it to them in a seamless manner across all their digital and live experiences. Creating personalized experiences during live events is the holy grail; it’s our big opportunity to pull together the best of new technology, place it in context and make the experience more human and meaningful.
The CES C Space hub showcases the important intersection of content and technology when it comes to storytelling and creative marketing on an interactive, personal level. Content continues to be an important focus for marketers. The aforementioned beacons make it possible to serve up content when attendees are within a certain distance from a booth or area of the experience, while other newer technologies like 3-D printing offer more on-demand, tangible opportunities. Ultimately, connected devices and data analytics will merge the insights and technology necessary to create real-time, relevant experiences that tell brand stories tailored to an attendee’s exact personal preferences.
CES has become more and more about a broad definition of technology as the category continues to expand and grow at an accelerated pace. The promise of all this technology is the ability to make the impossible possible, while giving marketers greater insights into audience behaviors. This year is just the beginning of an era that will allow those of us in the brand experience sector to take attendees outside the barriers of the traditional show floor while giving them more of what they need, when they need it. It’s an exciting time for us all, and undoubtedly an amazing CES.
Learn more about Freeman’s approach to utilizing technology to drive innovation in the brand experience channel.