With close to 70,000 senior executives and representatives from 81% of the countries around the globe, CES can be overwhelming for any first-timer. Now in its 50th year, 2017 won’t be any different.
So we sat down with Unruly’s SVP of Agency & Client Development, Jeff Minsky, who has been leading tours at CES for C-level marketers (McDonald’s, Visa, Pepsi, CBS and more) and senior agency leaders for over a decade, to learn how to make the most of your time in Vegas.
How long have you been attending CES? Why do you love it?
It’s been close to 15 years. Why do I love it? I love it because it’s a preview every year of the ideas and the imagination that people have in terms of the future of technology. Sometimes the things you see at CES play out; sometimes they don’t.
I started going to CES when the ad industry wasn’t paying attention to it whatsoever. Part of the reason I did is because I became the emerging media lead for OMD, and I recognized the fact that technology was starting to affect media consumption at an increasing rate. So what better place to see that happen than at the Consumer Electronics Show?
It also happened to be at a time when we were transforming from a world where the average household had a 32 inch CRT television – those huge, heavy, not flat-screened, boxy-looking television sets – into one with flat screens; which then turned into hi-def; which then turned into 1080P hi-def. Every year the race was, how big can they make the television set? It really became about the glass-making capabilities of the manufacturers.
That’s what really kickstarted my interest. You get to see the imagination of the industry, but, more importantly, it’s a point where the advertising industry gets together at the beginning of a new year. You see your friends, co-workers – past and present – energized after a relaxing week and excited by the things they see at CES.
What is the most surprising thing you’ve ever seen at CES?
The most surprising thing is the fact that this symbiotic show with an advertising conference has come about. At its core, it’s a consumer electronics show. It’s where manufacturers go to sell hardware and introduce new products to their buyers. It was never intended by the Consumer Electronics Association to actually be an advertising show.
Myself and a few others in the industry started to go and we saw TV being changed so dramatically. And with television up until recently being the dominant medium for advertisers, holding companies and media agencies started coming to see how it could affect their business. That morphed into inviting brand marketers to spend some quality time with them at the beginning of the year, before we get mired in the day-to-day.
There’s no question there are two separate shows happening at Vegas that week – CES and the advertising show. And it’s true that there are some media executives who don’t make it to the show floor because they are too busy wheeling and dealing.
Can you describe the biggest change you’ve seen over the years since attending?
The biggest change I’ve seen has been the shift from consumer tech to innovation. I think the interest at CES now is all these small start-up and innovation companies. About five or six years ago, the CES organizers saw there was a lot of competition starting to happen with SXSW. In order to react to that competition they opened a small area at the Venetian called Ureka Park.
At that point, it was a conference room for people who couldn’t afford the main floor. It was innovation for anything from battery power to flex keyboards to the “happy fork.” Then it doubled in size, then it tripled in size. Now it’s becoming a very large portion of the Sands Expo, and I believe one day it will eventually take over a large section of South Hall.
The other thing we’re starting to see in the main convention areas is a focus on 3D printing, robotics and fitness technology. Now even the dominant Central Hall, which was the main area for TVs, is now far more focused on the smart home and the Internet of Things exhibits than hyper focused on television. I think the show itself has diversified and has met the call to action to modernize in terms of any competition they were getting from SXSW and is much more focused on innovation.
Why is the Consumer Electronics Show relevant to the advertising business?
I think CES is relevant to the ad business for many reasons, but that its relevancy has changed over the years. I think it’s very relevant to marketers from a data standpoint. As we are a data-driven video world, marketers want to learn more about consumers, so we are going to see more devices – washer driers, cars – everything is going to be connected. That connectivity equates into data. Just walking the floor and looking at the smallest booth can give you a great idea that you didn’t have before you got to CES. It’s the one place that all centralizes in the showroom in front of you.
If you’ve never been to CES you’ll be wowed by it. It’s overwhelming, it’s huge, there are over 9,000 exhibitors. It’s massive. Your feet are going to hurt after 3 days at CES, no question about it. You can see innovation that is coming into reality, whether it’s prototyping or being launched to the public all in one place and at the beginning of the year. So it’s a nice way to start the beginning of the year.
Find out more
Take a spin through the Las Vegas Convention Hall with Unruly’s tech expert. See what your ad delivery devices will look like so you can make an impact in 2017! Book a tour here. Check out the second half of our conversation with Jeff next week.