It means that our thoughts can move out of a 2016 predictions deck and into our media plans. Though automotive innovation may grab many headlines, it is innovation in home automation and virtual reality that has the potential to most immediately influence media planning.
While it is difficult to predict the future, let’s assume we hear that everything at CES is faster, lighter, more connected, thinner and possibly even cheaper than before. While the focus may be on product specification, from a media planning point of view, the interesting news will be how these technologies impact or give insight to our behaviour.
Historically there has been a rush to hyper-optimise advertising space in new technology. Rather than rush to create ads that fit these new technologies, we need to use these devices to paint a broader picture of our consumer and use them to advertise better.
Fundamentally we should be asking bigger questions than "what problem is the technology looking to solve?" and rather "how are these innovations going to impact behaviour?"
The Samsung Fridge that looks to be revealed at CES has a screen which includes the capability to create shopping lists, receive voice commands, alert owners when something is running low or needs replacing, and show the weather forecast.
From a media planner’s point of view this represents both a challenge and an opportunity. Connected devices have the potential to put a wall between brands and consumers, e.g. fridges connected to e-grocers that automatically order replacements for items that are not put back into your fridge. It is a fantastic innovation that solves the problem of time wasted on shopping, food waste and making small decisions, but how do you market a brand to a fridge?
Here lies the opportunity for us to potentially add another device to our media plan that is much, much closer to our customers’ need state than mere location or inferred behavioural signals. We need to embrace this technology and hope Samsung and others allow us to use the technology to increase customers’ awareness of choice, not restrict it. If these screens and the accompanying data do become available to us we can layer over a new level of behavioural data onto our media planning.
We already have the challenge of Amazon, Facebook and Google deciding what our preferences are and soon our devices will do the same. A fridge may soon take care of brand loyalty so a media planner needs to get brand awareness on the shopping list.
With so many competing players we can expect rapid developments and explosive growth in this area. This heralds a new era in experience-based marketing opportunities.
VR has the potential to address the challenges businesses may face in fast growth but new services. An example of this is the issue of a lack of trust and confidence that some consumers have with house swapping or renting from a stranger. With virtual reality technology, customers can experience a space before they buy or rent. Here lies the opportunity for media planners to use the technology to address the wider human barrier of trust rather than just awareness.
While less savoury experiences and gaming may lead the charge in the initial flush of VR, the potential for virtual reality to impact media planning is huge – if we remember to use it to solve a problem and not just provide a gimmicky experience that is expensive and quickly forgotten.
No technology development stands in isolation from other societal phenomena. Therefore, in order for media planners and advertisers to use these spaces wisely and to not suffer the ad-blocking fate of our digital counterparts, each technology must be put into context and used not just as another platform to advertise on, but also to create a better picture of the consumer.
Thomas Laranjo is the managing director of Total Media