CES 2019 Day 0 Recap The data story, told through three pre-show events
Although CES 2019 won’t officially open its doors until tomorrow, the exhibitors have been busy setting up their booths and various companies have been hosting their own press event to share their announcements. As the Lab team works to finalize our scouting work, preparing to show our friends the best of the best on the convention floor, I was able to catch three events that nicely captured three main topics at this year’s CES.
In the morning, I stumbled into a Research Summit Super Session hosted by the CTA (the organizer of CES) and happened to catch a thought-provoking presentation presented by MRI and GfK on consumers’ eroding trust in tech platforms and, by extension, other brands. The ongoing consumer trust crisis is a trend that we highlighted in our 2018 Outlook report, and it will certainly continue to be a big industry concern going into 2019. As the presenter pointed out, following a year of non-stop bad press regarding Facebook’s questionable data practices, 86% of people surveyed now say they are worried about their personal data collected by social media. Such a lack of trust will also have a significant impact on what brands will have access to connect with consumers, as 43% of consumers say they only buy from brands they trust.
Moreover, the presentation also touched on how different markets require different levels of trust. For highly personal domains such as healthcare and finance, there’s naturally a higher level of trust that brands need to establish before they may be granted access to personal information and data. According to the MRI presenter, for example, only 1% of biometric data captured by wearable devices is being shared with health practitioners, and that points to a huge opportunity for trusted healthcare brands to come up with a transparent and trustworthy way to utilize that data to better serve their customers.
After a quick lunch, I attended a panel discussion on the Future of TV featuring media executives from Twitter, Viacom, PBS, ABC News, Britbox, as well as David Cohen, N.A President of our sibling agency MAGNA. Despite the title of the panel, much of the hour was spent on discussing the various challenges that media owners and advertisers face in today’s increasingly fragmented TV landscape.
As David put it, “innovation sometimes flies in the face of standardization,” and viewing channels such as OTT and mobile has brought new challenges to cross-platform measurement of TV audience. For agencies, coming up with our own metrics to guide our clients to the high-value audiences is the key challenge in this new reality where no one metric from one partner is enough.
The panelists also elaborated on the need to improve the ad experience on TV content across platforms, which pales in comparison to the ad-free viewing experience that subscription services like Netflix and Amazon Prime have normalized. The panelists agree that there is a need to reduce the number of commercial pods in linear television and program them to be contextually relevant, while also continuing to innovate content format, in particular interactive and shoppable content, as well as tailoring content to new channels to better engage today’s audience.
Capping off a busy day was the big pre-show keynote session by LG at the MGM Park Theater. LG President and Chief Technology Officer Dr. I.P. Park took the stage to share his vision for LG to build “truly intelligent machines” that will help transform LG from a home appliance maker into a lifestyle innovator. Going by a ECO principle of “Evolve, Connect, and Open,” LG aims to build an ecosystem of ThinQ smart home appliances that can evolve with users, stay connected to consumers and their environments, and leverage an open platform to ensure compatibility with partner services.
Artificial intelligence served as the running theme of the keynote, which was overall rather high-level and light on actual product announcements. From smart home to autonomous cars, then pivoting to service robots, and finally closing off with smart cities, the LG keynote touched on a wide range of topics that all rely on AI to propel its growth. Only brief mentions of its new products, such as the LG beer brewer or its rollable OLED TV, were incorporated into the event. LG’s robot guide CLoi was present on stage throughout the session to help move things along, giving a heavily pre-programmed yet still enjoyable performance. It’s rather disappointing that LG chose not to unveil any new service bot model on stage, but its video clips seem to show CLoi being a restaurant server, indicating expanded usage for the robot guide.
Also noteworthy is how LG aims to leverage the openness of Web OS to build out its in-car infotainment system for its fleet of autonomous cars. Working with partners that include Google, Amazon, and Baidu, LG hopes to consolidate collective efforts to make self-driving cars into multi-functional mobile spaces, customizable to serve the varying needs of its customers. It is surely an admirable vision, but whether LG is truly well-positioned in the auto value chain is a matter of debate. Regardless, it is part of LG’s AI vision to expand beyond the domestic space and truly become a lifestyle brand.
Altogether, today’s three sessions reveal a larger narrative forming around data usage and its implications. A.I, as Park put it, is a great tech force that promises to change our life for the better, and it runs on data, both for training the machine and for personalization. But how to properly and ethically collect and utilize data without infringing on user privacy, in addition to coming up with new industry standards for data measurement, is something that all brands and marketers need to figure out. And soon, for it is the precious consumer trust that is on the line this time.