A fresh, no gadget take on the 2015 International CES, this report covers the top trends marketers and brands need to know as they enter 2015. Based on the evolution of the CES show over the last several years, the report also documents the rising in notoriety and popularity of CES within the marketing and advertising industry, now rivaling events like the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity and SXSW Interactive.
After 48 years in existence, the event shows no signs of slowing down. 2015 marked the largest CES in history, with over 170,000 industry professionals in attendance and more than 2.2 million net square feet of exhibit space occupied by exhibitors. Today, the show sits comfortably at, as the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) has dubbed it, “the center of convergence among content, services and products.”
CES 2015: A No Gadget Report for Marketers & Brands
For brands and
A CES 2015 Report
contents Overview: 2015 International CES
Really? No gadgets?
Key trends for brands and marketers
#1: The future of people-based marketing
#2: Modern marketing: emerging technologies and capabilities
#3: New business models
#4: Regulation tightens, intellectual property loosens
#5: The consumerization of content creation
Let’s do something extraordinary
With a multi-year recalibration from a consumer
electronics focus to a broader digital technology
story behind it, the 2015 International CES made
it clear that the event has hit a new stride and
level of maturity.
After making bets on new audiences and
exhibitors for the show (including marketers, start-
ups and content producers), a record-
breaking year makes it clear those bets
have paid off in a way that is all too
uncommon in Las Vegas.
It’s the opposite of what you’d expect to hear about the
2015 International CES: a report with no run-down of
the hottest gadgetry being promised to revolutionize
your life this year.
But with the show’s increasing focus on a broader array
of content – including digital’s effect on consumers,
policy and technology services – there are some
major developments marketers should be
thinking about beyond the gadgets. Further, we
(and likely you, the reader), are well aware that the
hottest products have been well documented across the
web. In case you’d still like a recap, you can catch these
linked posts from Mashable, engadget and us.
Instead, we’ve focused this year’s report on a number of
actionable takeaways that we are leaving CES with and
taking directly back to our clients to factor into forward
planning. If you’re still itching for some mention of
gadgets, don’t worry. We have mentioned gadgets,
generally in an effort to illustrate a broader ecosystem
and movement that exists in consumer behavior and the
industry at large.
Enjoy the report and do let us know what you think!
Now, let’s get to work. Before we know it, CES will be
back again – it’s scheduled for January 6-9, 2016.
VP, Strategy Director
We know, we know. But
there’s a good reason.
With a multi-year recalibration from a consumer
electronics focus to a broader digital technology story
behind it, the 2015 International CES made it clear
that the event has hit a new stride and level of
After making bets on new audiences and exhibitors
for the show (including marketers, start-ups and
content producers), a record-breaking year makes it
clear those bets have paid off in a way that is all too
uncommon in Las Vegas.
Highlights from the
2015 International CES
–2015 marked the largest CES in history, with over 170,000 industry professionals in attendance and more than
2.2 million net square feet of exhibit space occupied by exhibitors. Today, the show sits at, as the Consumer
Electronics Association (CEA) has dubbed it, “the center of convergence among content, services and products.”
The event’s new positioning is reflected by the fact that exhibitors and conference tracks have shifted in new
directions. This year boasted a 70% increase in the number of start-up companies exhibiting at the show. CES
also launched a new sector of the show campus called C Space, which is dedicated to exploring how content,
creativity, technology, brand marketing, influencers and the consumer come together.
The result for brands is an opportunity unlike any other to showcase how they fit into the digital ecosystem that
increasingly dominates consumers’ lives. The result for brands’ marketers is a conference that, according to
AdAge, is rising in notoriety and popularity within the industry to rival events like the Cannes Lions International
Festival of Creativity and South By Southwest Interactive.
In 2015, many brands turned their attention away from hunting for
emerging gadgets, to instead examine emerging technologies that
can drive their businesses forward.
The American Association of National Advertisers (ANA) partnered
with CES to host a Digital Disruption conference at the show’s
newly minted C Space (the official CES destination for creative
communicators, brand professionals and digital advertisers).
Marketing executives from brands including Subway Restaurants,
MillerCoors, MasterCard and Mondelez International presented
their approaches to innovation.
The Interpublic Group of Companies (IPG), Jack Morton’s parent
company, sponsored a private suite where media companies gave
private briefings to lead agency-side marketers. Innovators like
Google, Facebook, Amazon and Yahoo presented their research,
points of view and agendas for the future of how brands will use
digital to reach consumers.
For brands and
Several key trends emerged for brands
and marketers to consider in 2015,
each of which is covered in more detail
in this report:
The Future of People-Based
Modern Marketing: Emerging
Technology & Capabilities
New Business Models & Value
Regulation Tightens, Intellectual
The Consumerization of Content
The future of
Privacy vs. personalization,
a cookie-free future and
In a private briefing of top marketing executives at
CES, Carolyn Everson, the VP of Global Marketing
Solutions at Facebook, heralded which she has called
her team’s biggest achievement over the last 12
months: “People-Based Marketing.”
Broadly, this term refers to a movement towards a
“cookie-free” world, driven by the realization that, in
a cross-device landscape, cookies are a poorer
identifier of individuals than ever.
Facebook’s Atlas Insights team conducted a study in
late 2014 and found that, for roughly half of the
population measured (500 million cookies), the one-to-
one relationship between cookie and person was
broken after only a few weeks’ time, distorting
measures of reach and frequency significantly.
But that cookie inconsistency also points towards a
major gap in advertisers’ understanding of which
users they’re targeting and their ability to target them
with personalized messaging.
The prospect of a
After six weeks,
just 53% of people
corresponded to a
Facebook Atlas Study
If achieved, true personalization in digital marketing stands to yield significant benefits to
brands in 2015. Yahoo’s recent research on the impact of personalization was also
revealed at this year’s CES. While its research exposed a general hesitancy to accept an
increasingly personalized web when consumers were asked directly, it also found that
consumers responded extremely well to those very personalized messages.
This tension between personalization attitudes and actions points towards the importance
of use of explicit and implicit feedback from users in order to personalize messages.
Users want to feel in control, but also to benefit from information publishers have.
Facebook’s new Atlas Ad Server offering will provide a significant amount of explicit
information to advertisers, allowing them to target unique users based on their Facebook
identity, rather than cookies. Implicit feedback will continue to be an ongoing focus of
marketers. Legendary, an American film production company, shared during its CES
presentation that it often leaves 25% of its marketing budgets unallocated in order to
respond directly to the feedback it receives implicitly from consumers.
While ad technology companies and publishers are sure to continue establishing a
footing in the new people-based marketing world, brands that move decisively will begin
to see significant benefits in 2015. Both Facebook and Google made direct promises to
advertisers at CES that their organizations wanted to be held responsible for ultimate
business value, not soft media metrics like impressions and clicks.
The tension between
personalization and privacy
Facebook Atlas Study
expressed a desire
for some kind of
viewing a mix of
and a new go-to-market
strategy for brands
Beyond the buzz about ad technology, CES also
acted as a showcase for new, disruptive marketing
techniques and methodologies that are catapulting
some brands forward.
MillerCoors, coming from an industry that generally
relies heavily on broadcast TV to market its
beverages, presented its recent innovation in how it goes to market to
a youth audience with Miller Lite. The organization sustains the
MillerCoors Incubator, a technology incubator that maintains
relationships with start-ups that can aid the brand it overcoming some
of its key business challenges.
Currently, MillerCoors is focusing on branded content and lower-
funnel marketing by testing campaigns with 26 different technology
companies, ranging from iBeacon to content marketing.
Side by side with its incubator, MillerCoors also launched a Tap The
Future program, dedicated to taking young entrepreneurs’ businesses
to the next level. The competition includes $300K in prize money,
business seminars, live pitch opportunities, and access to mentors and
business moguls like Daymond John from ABC’s “Shark Tank.”
Rocking the beer
The way we’re thinking
about technology is one
foot in today and one
foot in tomorrow.
We’re taking some risks.”
Sr. Director of Digital & Media
But beer isn’t the only industry with a shifting go-to-market strategy. Ironically,
consumer electronics, once the central product-launch focus of CES, have also
experienced a changing landscape in terms of going-to-market. Some of the
top products at CES had already been seen long before the January event.
Singtrix, a voice-defying karaoke system launched at CES by VOXX
International Corporation, had been seen my millions of TV watchers on
the show “Shark Tank.”
AirDog, a GoPro camera wielding auto-follow drone created by a
team of 20 engineers, had already been backed (and thusly pre-
ordered) by over 1,300 investors on Kickstarter and seen by many
more through the product’s publicity engine during its crowdfunding
campaign prior to CES.
Ring, a smartphone-controlled video doorbell, had already flopped on
“Shark Tank” in its pre-investment days (then known as DoorBot), but
turned around to sell over 10,000 units after its airdate and generate
$1 million in venture capital investment, all before it showed on the
stage of The Last Gadget Standing at CES.
Modern methods used to
Facebook Atlas Study
Brands in and outside the technology
sector are changing the way they
launch products and get noticed.
Despite the claim that 20,000 products
are launched at CES (made by CEA, its
hosting body), it is clear that brands
are taking alternate routes to reach
their audiences – and that the deﬁnition
of what a true ‘launch’ at CES means
may need to be re-examined.
disrupted by Dr. Phil,
Sling TV and Amazon
Aside from marketing evolutions, CES also showcased technologies that are disrupting the way businesses are
structured. Several industries showed signs of active reinvention, from the medical industry to traditional
television. Meanwhile, Amazon reinforced its end-of-2014 introduction of the Echo and growing ecosystem
based on Prime subscribers (including Prime Photos, Prime Music, Prime Instant Video and Kindle Owners’
Doctor On Demand: Dr. Phil and his son spoke on the CEA’s show floor stage about the company
they co-founded: Doctor On Demand. The company offers insurance-free appointments with doctors,
psychologists and other healthcare providers on-demand for a flat fee.
Patients can have Video Visits with these providers on their smartphone or computers for services
ranging from acute sniffles to lactation consulting. While the service currently is not meant to replace
primary care physicians, it can greatly shorten the path to service.
The doctor is in
(the mix at CES)
Amazon Echo: While Amazon didn’t launch
any new products at CES, it was still one of the
most exciting presences at the show. In a private
briefing to top marketers, Amazon’s executives
gave demonstrations with the brand’s new Echo
product (launched at the end of 2014) and talked
about the direction of its business. Though initially
a bookseller turned eCommerce company, today
Amazon has morphed into a much
broader ecosystem of content libraries
and content delivery, device invention
and device proliferation, and point of sale and publisher.
With the introduction of Prime subscriptions, proprietary devices and original content, Amazon
has also developed a dedicated media team that is nascent, but ready to bloom. Marketing
opportunities across eCommerce, video and its proprietary devices will continue to proliferate.
The most threatening dynamic for marketers looking to establish brand preference is that, to
some degree, the ecosystem Amazon is developing is self-funding, so it will not be beholden to
advertiser dollars. It can make bold choices, like providing commercial-free audio and video
streaming services, because it can monetize them through Prime subscriptions and incremental
eCommerce sales gained from keeping users in Amazon’s walled garden.
Did you hear
Sling TV: In the midst of a time of television
turbulence, filled with Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime
and iTunes, Slingbox broke through at CES with
the promise of a simple, affordable solution: Sling
TV. Positioned as a way to “take back TV,” the
service will cost $20 a month with no contract or
While the service offering received plenty of buzz
at CES, skeptics argue that the 11-channel
streaming package doesn’t provide nearly enough
channels or coverage of programming that is of
interest to its young millennial target audience.
While these companies showed up as especially
prominent and innovative at CES, they are emblematic of
a business landscape ripe for revolution. Radical moves
by progressively-minded companies like Uber, Warby
Parker and Bonobos, all founded on new technology and
consumer behavior, will continue to force new business
models upon traditional industries.
The FTC and FCC shut
down threats, while
corporations open up
Over the past few years, CES has become an
opportunity for government ofﬁcials to collaborate with
and take the stage next to technology leaders.
This year, the FCC Chairman and Federal Trade
Commission (FTC) Chairwoman both made splashy
appearances at the show, giving a preview of tightened
regulations and policies that are coming down the pike.
Meanwhile, corporate giants showed a willingness to
loosen the reigns on some of their intellectual property
for the betterment of the industry.
Edith Ramirez, chair of the FTC, warned about the
perils of, and presumable pending commission action
regarding, the Internet of Things (IoT) devices that are
proliferating rapidly. She warned of the devices’
ability to capture a “deeply personal and startlingly
complete picture” of consumers that they may not want
public or vulnerable. Compounding the threat of the
deluge of captured personal data, Ramirez also cited
start-ups’ general lack of sophistication in and
attention to privacy practices that consumers take for
granted from more established companies.
Tom Wheeler, chair of the FCC, received significant
press attention for his interview with CEA chairman
Gary Shapiro, during which he tipped attendees off to
FCC action on net neutrality. He disclosed a timeline
and general premise of the commission’s forthcoming
final rules to enforce net neutrality under Title II. This
action would constitute a coupe for many consumer
electronics manufacturers and innovators whose
interests are often at odds with traditional, established
Threat of IoT and
promise of net neutrality
In 2015, the number
of smart home
devices will reach
nearly 25 million.
2015 will also be the
year we start hearing
Federal Trade Commission
Two of the biggest non-gadgetry announcements at CES came from
two of the largest brands there: Samsung and Toyota. Each
organization demonstrated a willingness to play in the sandbox
amongst the start-ups that have tended to steal the show in the last
Samsung opened the show with its Keynote that, among other things,
focused on the company’s commitment to making its IoT components
completely open source. This new approach to building a more
compatible series of IoT products is fueled by open source standards
that came as part of Samsung’s acquisition of SmartThings.
Toyota made a landmark announcement that it would invite royalty-
free use of over 5,600 fuel cell related patents, including critical
technologies developed for the Toyota Mirai. This openness to
sharing its intellectual property stands as a noted change in tone for
auto giants like Toyota, many of which will likely feel increasing
pressure from similar moves from challengers like Tesla, which
released its patents in June 2014. Widely celebrated by analysts, this
move is reflective of what is believed to be the key to emerging
energy sources: broad-based collaboration, shared technologies and
Large corporations begin
to open up
be able to connect
to the Web by
A new generation of
The final key trend we noted at CES didn’t actually occur at the event
itself. Instead, it’s a prediction in the way we see the most popular
technologies moving. Several of the year’s most notable product
presences: AirDog (GoPro filming drone), Selfie Sticks (not at all
innovative, but extremely popular) and 3D Printers (with more viable
outputs than ever before).
All three of these categories of products are centered on the
increasing consumerization of quality content creation – a trend that
will live on far beyond the 2015 CES.
Consumer creation like
New Makerbot filaments
containing limestone, iron,
maple wood and bronze.
The way content is published and distributed has changed
radically over the past decades, starting with simple weblogs
and standing today in an environment where 18,000 days of
video are uploaded to YouTube every day.
What’s coming next is increased accessibility to
professionalized content creation capabilities. Amateur music
artists will be including stunning sky shots in their music videos.
Lone explorers are photographing breathtaking landscapes…
with themselves in the picture. 3D printers’ new lower cost and
increased material options give average people the ability to
custom print their own products.
That means that the pace of content will continue to accelerate
– and consumer expectations from brands may continue to
rise. Brands that can leverage new content production
technologies themselves and give consumers an elevated
platform to create may be able to achieve an advantage over
competitors. Moreover, being first to market with unique ways
to leverage these technologies offers a breakthrough potential
Call to brands: build on
3D Printed dinosaur cookies
rocked the CES show floor.
The concept? Amazing. The
We’re living in a time when human imagination coupled
with technology makes anything possible.
Where amazing has become the new normal.
Brands must be sure that the experiences they deliver live
up to the messages they send. Those who achieve it, we
call Experience Brands.
If you’re interested in chatting more regarding our
insights on CES or are ready to do something
extraordinary, let’s connect.
VP, Strategy Director
office: + 1.617.585.7017
We’re a global brand experience agency.
We generate breakthrough ideas, connecting
brands and people through experiences that
transform business. Our portfolio of award-
winning work spans 75 years across event
marketing, sponsorship marketing, promotion
and activation, experience strategy,
employee engagement, digital, social, and
mobile. Ranked at the top of our field, Jack
Morton is part of the Interpublic Group of
Companies, Inc. (NYSE: IPG). More
information is available at:
For brands and
A CES 2015 Report