CES – It's No Longer Purely About The Technology

The annual supershow that is CES 2015 finished on Friday (9th January). True to form, a tidal wave of technology was unveiled across the spectrum, including the mandatory oddities like the Selfie Brush and the Sexfit.
Of the range of tech innovations showcased, that will have a much wider influence on our interaction with advertisers and brands, a few were worthy of particular attention from an Out Of Home (OOH) communications perspective:
The Tech
Wearables and watches              
With the exception of Sony’s SmartWatch 3 Steel Edition and the very affordable Alcatel OneTouch watch there was an obvious lack of smartwatches at CES this year, whilst everyone waits for Apple to do the hard-sell first.  There was no shortage of other wearable techs on display however. These were mainly focused on fitness tracking, ranging from the traditional looking Withings Active to updates on existing exercise bands and even a Swarovski crystal studded bracelet.
As these devices mature it is interesting to look at what functions are surfacing as being important to consumers and how advertisers may leverage this.  If counting steps on a daily basis through a fitness tracker becomes commonplace, there’s the potential for an obvious new metric for measurement. Starting your car from your watch could save valuable seconds, and perhaps pressing the button to park your car could also order and purchase your favourite coffee so you can simply collect it, without having to queue. There really is no better time to get your mobile app beacon enabled, ready to be triggered through OOH.
The Internet of Things
One of the big themes at this year’s CES was the kit that takes information about the world around you and your actions in it, and turns it into data. Increasing numbers of consumers’ smart devices will become connected, extending into gadgets such as doors that lock themselves, thermostats that program themselves, cameras that monitor your home for intruders and even coffee machines that allow you to make a freshly ground mug without having to leave your bed.
Broadly known as The Internet of Things (IoT), this presents a huge opportunity for global brands, with the likes of Samsung and Sony outlining plans to dominate the ever increasing ecosystem of ‘things’ in 2015 and beyond. The opportunity for the Out of Home industry is colossal. We’ll soon be surrounded by more data opportunities from an increasingly connected consumer, alongside data from connected homes and the infrastructure which exists out of home. This will create numerous location specific data trails which have the potential to enhance the planning of OOH media and effective creative treatment.
We believe live data sources will continue to be integrated into DOOH content to make it more contextually relevant, and platforms such as Liveposter will make it easier than ever to aggregate real world data from the IoT into DOOH advertising.
Driverless cars are here
2015 was the year that Marty McFly travelled to in the film ‘Back to the Future’. Whilst we can’t yet buy food hydrators, hoverboards or flying cars, car technology was one of the big talking points at CES 2015. BMW, Mercedes and Audi all unveiled visions of their automated cars at the show this year. But automated driving technology embraces more than just a futuristic vision of people sitting in the back seat of a car being driven around – although a driverless Audi did make a spectacular 550 mile drive from San Fransisco to the CES venue in Las Vegas.
Automated driving is likely to have a big impact on OOH. A recent study from Posterscope introduces the new smart car ecosystem and considers how smart cars will collect and generate data that can be used for greater OOH targeting. If automated driving ultimately makes roads safer, we may also see current restrictions loosen around the use of animation on digital roadside screens, allowing for more creative opportunities across one of the largest DOOH environments.
Implications of the latest technologies
Technologies like these hold huge promise for consumers and advertisers alike, but beyond the technologies themselves, there are important and far reaching indications for both. CES is no longer just a place to launch technologies, it has become increasingly about consumers themselves.
The event has outgrown the historic definition of ‘just’ an electronics show; it’s now so much more. Whilst its raison d’être remains to showcase consumer technology, perhaps more crucially CES delivers an annual benchmark of how consumers adopt new behaviours enabled by these technologies.
In the not-too-distant past prodding and swiping a screen was something that earned you strange looks, likewise for talking to a TV or device. Neither seems out of the ordinary today of course, but these new behaviours were first showcased to attendees at CES shows decades ago.
It is the evolution of behaviours towards mainstream adoption, as observed through the dipstick of past CES shows, which should be of most interest to advertisers, not the technologies alone. So with this in mind, and looking beyond the technologies on display to the implications for brands and advertisers, we believe a few key mainstream behaviours will emerge in 2015 for brand consideration:
Actively quantifying our lives
Generating, analysing and understanding personal data such as the number of steps taken or calories consumed, for example, will become accepted and commonplace.
Do think about how data could influence OOH campaign planning, creative content and location selection. Your audience is comfortable using data, so you should be too.  Be careful not to over personalise and fall off the creepy cliff however.
Controlling the real world with our mobile devices
Speakers, heating systems and light bulbs are just a few of the connected devices already present in homes across the country. As more everyday appliances get connected this form of control will move from desirable to expected in the lives of consumers.
Whilst it’s important to understand the role OOH media can play in influencing these new on the go behaviours and mobile interactions with your OOH advertising, IoT is already up and running;  So it’s important to be aware that the internet of things is now about more than your toaster talking to your watch.
 Emerging acceptance of automation
Consumer opinion and attitude has changed drastically in the last year. Driverless cars have moved from a futuristic outlier at CES 2014 to a mainstream component of the show within just one year, highlighting a general acceptance of the automation of simple (and not so simple) tasks by machines.
Whilst industry accepted the value of automation decades ago it has taken much longer for the benefits to be transferred to our everyday lives – and whilst it’s important to consider how consumers will spend their time as a result of automation, experts at CES say ‘don’t worry,’ we are ‘decades if not centuries’ away from robots taking over the world!