This year marked our 6th CES as Team Prohaska, though most of us have been attending for much longer than that. The first event of the new year, it informs our perspective on helping our clients differentiate and succeed in a crowded, competitive marketplace. It also fuels our collective imagination with ideas for capitalizing on fast-changing trends in consumer technology. What we look forward to most of all is our opening night #Recharge happy hour, which we’re proud to say has become an institution.
Given our love of the in-person CES circus, 2021 hit us hard. We’re firm believers in the power of hybrid events, but going 100% virtual just wasn’t the same. This year, we were determined not to let the virus get in our way, and a triple-vaxed Team Prohaska hit the ground in Las Vegas to investigate the new normal for our favorite event of the year. Masked, socially distanced, and armed with heavy doses of hand sanitizer, we mingled with clients and partners, checked out the trade show floor, listened in on the buzz around us, and took part in many thought-provoking conversations about what the rest of 2022 has in store for our industry. We hope you enjoy the Cliff Notes version of our experience, and, as always, we’re happy to share more with anyone who wants to talk one on one.
Less is More
The crowd on the trade show floor was a shadow of years past—let’s just say keeping six feet of distance between us and other attendees posed no problems. The Aria lobby was a veritable ghost town, and there was little to no competition for a seat at the Chandelier Bar.
And yet, we were pleasantly surprised to find that in this case, less truly made for more. What used to be an unwieldy event thanks to the sheer volume of attendees was much easier to navigate on a smaller scale. With everyone’s schedule considerably lighter, we connected with more people, had more meaningful conversations, got our hands on more cool gadgets, and enjoyed front-row seats in sessions—definitely a first for many of us. Though the informal theme this year was Web 3.0, the Metaverse, and NFTs, if you ask us, it was Quality Over Quantity.
Cable is the new landline and CTV is *very* hot (and very complicated)
The speed at which consumers cut the cord only accelerated during Covid as we found ourselves desperate for fresh content. As the pandemic progressed, even live sports and movie studios (long-time holdouts) embraced streaming, placing renewed pressure on advertisers to figure out the fast-growing CTV landscape.
The biggest hurdle to moving more spend from linear to digital is data in all its forms—for targeting, for measurement, and perhaps most important of all, for attribution. To date, CTV targeting has been limited to the household level, frustrating buyers spoiled by the granular precision of all other forms of digital. This year, a few players debuted solutions designed to bridge the data and measurement gap and speed the migration of media to CTV. Nielsen announced Streaming Signals, a new offering that uses machine learning to identify individual household viewers and serve personalized ads accordingly. Resonate, a purveyor of AI-driven consumer data and analytics, launched CTV Insights, a tool that allows users to onboard CTV devices to the Resonate platform and enhance their CTV audience segments with thousands of attributes from Resonate’s proprietary data set. These are just the first of many new tools to flood the market; much like the legendary year of mobile, the year of CTV has been a long time coming and we believe 2022 will be the tipping point.
Make way for The Metaverse
VR and AR are nothing new, but their growth has been hampered by the catch-22 of media and monetization; until there are workable ad models that marketers can leverage with confidence, neither technology will see the investment needed to become a mass medium. Enter The Metaverse, a panoply of connected devices, wearables, and full-body experiences that have expanded the original concepts of AR & VR into an immersive universe of digital interfaces just waiting to be monetized. At CES 2022, global brands like Gucci, Disney, and Nike illustrated their commitment to exploring this brave new world, releasing sneak previews of branded, immersive virtual experiences complete with the virtual currencies and collectibles (NFTs) to go with them.
The marketing landscape of The Metaverse is still taking shape—ads that mirror current digital display, video, and DOOH formats will doubtless play a role, but we expect to see more immersive, experiential models dominate over time. Yet, challenges surrounding data and measurement remain and we expect them to light a fire under marketers still clinging to outdated models for both—e.g., CTR makes little sense as a metric in the digital world, and it makes even less sense in a fully immersive ad where clicking isn’t even an option.
If data & measurement are still in the wild west phase for CTV, both are in the realm of space exploration when it comes to The Metaverse. But, given some of the experiences we witnessed in Las Vegas, this is a situation where Moore’s Law will be especially applicable, and we expect 2023 to showcase a robust selection of data, identity, measurement, and attribution solutions for this next stage in the evolution of digital media.
That’s our take on the smallest, but most interesting CES yet. If you would like to share yours, please reach out via email or social. We are grateful it happened, and that we were able to see so many friends and extended family at our Beerhaus Happy Hour event during the show.
We remain bullish on the prospects for 2022, with the strong hope and expectation that this year will be better than the last.