February 28, 2023 Quigley Now + Next: 6 Ideas That Stick from CES 2023
Now that the buzz has died down around CES 2023, let’s look back at six takeaways that could help shape marketing this year and beyond.
1. Instead of just chasing headlines, brands should use technology to build real value.
The floor of CES was filled with all kinds of interesting technology—from robotic baristas to wireless TVs. But one of the presentations that got the biggest applause was Ed Bastian, CEO of Delta Air Lines, announcing that Wi-Fi would be free on all flights. Yes, Wi-Fi is far from a new technology. But to an audience of people who’ve just suffered some of the worst flight delays in recent history, an opportunity to catch up and connect on the plane resonated deeply. The lesson here is that technology is the most powerful when it helps enable real, human connection. David Treat, Senior Managing Director at Accenture, spoke of the need for more “simple, lovable experiences” that create real value for the consumer. “Success is being really intentional about what you’re doing— not just chasing headlines,” he said.
2. Consumers don’t want ads about sustainability—they want sustainable ads.
Amy Armstrong, Director, Global Customer Development at Amazon Ads, pointed out that 62% of consumers want to engage with brands who do sustainable business—and people are starting to notice the wastefulness in digital advertising. Careless use of ad targeting and data is increasing stress on servers, wasting power and ultimately expanding brand carbon footprints. Kirk McDonald, CEO, GroupM, believes that marketers need to be more thoughtful about how they build creative and targeting models, keeping an eye on how much real return they’re getting. Bottom line: the time for splash-and-learn marketing might be over if we want to be in line with consumer demands for sustainability.
3. The crypto winter isn’t putting the freeze on Web3.
Even with the news of the FTX scandal fresh in everyone’s minds, many brands are still moving forward with Web 3 plans. Ian Lee, Co-Founder of Syndicate, pointed out how people in the Web3 world are looking at FTX and similar crashes, not as an issue of blockchain, but the mistake of applying a centralized structure to decentralized technology. Many Web3 advocates are looking at the crypto winter as a good thing—a chance to slow down and build. Jeri Ellsworth, CEO at Tilt Five, was one of many executives who recommended using this time to think about creating unique experiences consumers can’t do in the physical world. “There’s unnecessary metaverse things we’re doing just because we can, like in the early days of the internet…we need the Web3 equivalent of one-click buying,” she said.
4. For immersive media to succeed, technology needs to sync up with society.
There were exciting, new VR headsets on the floor of CES. But we’re still missing the killer app that’s going to make everyone want to get one. Accenture’s VR employee onboarding originally received a lot of praise during the pandemic and was seen as something that could make immersive media essential to workforces. But now that companies are going back to the office, some wonder if it’s worth the investment. Meta has doubled down on its commitment to a VR-based metaverse with the release of its new, high-performance (and super expensive) headsets. But the most popular metaverse experiences are still desktop-based. One big possibility for VR/AR: online retail. Immersive media allows people to “try on” products and make the digital shopping experience more like being in a physical store.
5. The big wish: Interoperability.
The CES floor was filled with ingenious smart products. Unfortunately, there were nearly as many operating systems used to control them. How many apps can we really expect consumers to install? How many ad platforms are brands going to be willing to use to reach their audiences? Many speakers at CES called for interoperability— the breaking down of walled gardens and tech company competition to create a single platform that controls everything (or at least fewer platforms). This idea extends into the metaverse. Right now, every metaverse experience requires users to set up a different avatar and make a different set of purchases. Nils J. Wollny, CEO & co-founder at Holoride, called for a “locker” that would let users take digital items from one experience into another.
6. Interesting, new platform: Game streaming.
Samsung introduced a TV that allows people to play high-quality games in the cloud—similar to PC-quality—without the need of a separate gaming computer or console. What Netflix did for movies, this technology has the potential to do for games. Aside from removing friction for consumers and offering them more choices, game streaming could give brands access to in-game advertising without the huge lead times and expense currently required.
Daniel Quentin Zuber, Associate Creative Director, has worked on some of the largest global brands while also being active in the electronic music scene as a DJ, performer, and producer. He was part of a team developing one of the first immersive VR music experiences and has also released a collection of NFTs. Under the handle @therealquentinZ, he’s an influencer in trance music, cyberpunk, and vaporwave culture on Instagram and TikTok.