The electronics show is back in Las Vegas, and there are some serious subjects the ad industry needs to hash out

CES is having its comeback residency in Las Vegas at a pivotal moment in tech and advertising, as the industry steadies itself for an uncertain economic climate going into 2023.

TikTok, Walmart and Netflix—brands that haven’t typically had a presence at the early January electronics showcase—will show up in a big way. Excitement, and the challenges, around Web3 and the metaverse will certainly be major talking points as will heady subjects such as the fall of FTX, the disgraced crypto exchange, which could affect marketers and ad agencies in the new year. And, of course, there will be electronics.

CES marks the start of business for the year and attracts ad agencies, brands and tech companies. Brands and advertisers, which use CES as the jumping-off point for getting deals done in the new year, plan to meet with tech platforms such as TikTok, and other giants, including Meta, Google, Amazon, Snap, Pinterest and Reddit during the Jan. 5 to Jan. 8, 2023 event. (Twitter, which continues to work through its internal chaos since Elon Musk took over, does not appear to have an official presence, even as it has been a big player in previous years.)

There is some optimism heading into CES, which has faced multiple years of disruption due to the pandemic. “We’ve got a lot of big brands,” said Michael Kassan, founder and CEO of MediaLink, which programs the advertising confab at C Space, “like Unilever, AB InBev, pharma [companies]. A lot of big brands that are all coming in, and I think the turnout is going to be really strong.”

TikTok’s going to the chapel

TikTok, which has been fending off critics in the U.S., where there have been growing concerns about its close connections to China-based ByteDance, will have a large presence at CES. Most major tech and ad platforms have suites where they demo their services to media buyers at CES. TikTok is taking over the Wedding Chapel at Aria, where it will be meeting with ad partners and brands.

For TikTok, the stakes are getting higher—U.S. government officials and regulators have raised alarm bells about TikTok’s Chinese origins. Brands have not been able to ignore that some U.S. states are even banning the app from official government devices during a new wave of fear that the app could leave data vulnerable.

“I don’t think TikTok will make it a core theme of CES, but I think they will address it, one on one with clients, who are suspect or anxious about the role of China and Chinese stakeholders in the platform,” said one top media buyer who spoke with Ad Age on the condition of anonymity.

TikTok, of course, wants to focus more on its technology and how it fits into CES. The electronics show is known for endless exhibits of the latest technology in TVs and digital screens and TikTok is looking to break into living rooms. In November, Dan Page, TikTok’s head of global distribution and partnerships, joined an official CES podcast to talk about the app’s big-screen strategy. TikTok already has a connected TV app, and it has even bigger plans for TVs and out-of-home displays, Page said. “There are 2 billion additional screens across the world, outside of mobile,” Page said in the podcast, “our aim is to bring that entertainment experience to those screens.”

Netflix and deal

Jeremi Gorman, president of worldwide advertising at Netflix, is speaking at C Space, and it marks the first time that the streaming giant has a real contingent at CES as an ad seller. Netflix has started popping up at major ad industry events, including at Cannes in 2022. Netflix launched its first ad-supported streaming subscription service in the fourth quarter of 2022.

“They will be there and have a real presence,” Kassan said.

Read more: The year in ad-supported streaming

All major ad platforms will be at CES, said George Manas, CEO of Omincom Group’s OMD Worldwide, pointing to Google, Amazon, Snap and Pinterest, among others. Omnicom plans to meet with hundreds of clients from major brands, Manas said.

“It looks like we’re now exceeding pre-pandemic levels from clients,” Manas said, adding that the agency will continue to meet with executives and have discussions with its key partners at the trade show.

The C Space also will feature discussions from major brands such as Delta. John Deere, Stellantis and BMW will give keynote addresses, alongside traditional electronics giants such as LG. Group Black CEO Travis Montaque and Instacart Chief Marketing Officer Laura Jones are set to speak at C Space, too.

Weaving Web3

“Metaverse and Web3 are big themes of the show, this year,” said Kinsey Fabrizio, senior VP of membership and CES sales at CTA, the technology group that organizes the event. “Broadly across CES you’ll see it show up, and we have some dedicated areas for Web3 at the show. In Central Hall [at the convention center], we have gaming and metaverse located there, as well as a Web3 studio.” Automaker Stellantis and Microsoft, for instance, will demonstrate a showroom floor for car shopping based in the metaverse, Fabrizio said. The auto category has become a bigger part of CES in recent years.

There are some negative connotations around Web3, though, that the industry needs to sort through, Kassan said. Brands have been dabbling in Web3 projects and metaverse-style technology, but the dark underbelly of crypto has dampened some enthusiasm for the sector. Brands need to understand the difference between risky ventures like FTX, the crypto exchange that imploded, and useful applications of Web3, Kassan said.

“People are conflating what happened there [at FTX], with what we all are focused on with the importance of the metaverse and everything else that’s coming to pass,” Kassan said.

Retail media and ad tech

Walmart is a bit of a newcomer to CES. It has a growing ad business, like Netflix and is competing against a host of retail media networks sprouting up in the industry.

“Walmart traditionally would attend CES as a buyer,” Fabrizio said. “But now to see Walmart at CES, participating with their media and their media connect [Walmart Connect] team, that’s a new activation, and a new way that we’re seeing Walmart and other retailers participate through their ad teams.”

Amazon Ads will also be at CES. Brands will be interested in hashing out the latest developments in retail media, cloud computing and the ever-important “data clean rooms,” OMD’s Manas said. In fact, Clorox and OMD will host a discussion at CES about data clean rooms.

“The perspective of CES tends to be five to 10 years out,” Manas said, “but what we’re going to be obsessing over this year is this theme of ‘immediate innovation.’”

With the concerns about the economic climate heading into 2023, brands are getting back to basics around technology that can be applied today to help reduce costs, and that includes within their advertising strategies, Manas said.

Flying cars

CES wouldn’t be complete without a whirl around the convention center floor, where most of the exhibitors showcase their new technology. There will be a demonstration flight of a personal electric vehicle, Fabrizio said. “Flying cars, essentially,” she said. CES will also feature a new marine theme, with electric boats.

There are more than 3,000 exhibitors, covering more than 2.1 million net square feet of floor space, which is 75% larger than last year’s scaled-down footprint, Fabrizio told Ad Age.

There could be some agencies and brands with reduced staff going, which could make the 2023 show smaller than 2020, which occurred just a couple of months before pandemic lockdowns. That show saw 170,000-plus people attendees.

Some ad leaders, who spoke with Ad Age on condition of anonymity, said the timing of the show, right after the new year starts, was a problem. One ad leader from a top media holding company said that budgets are tight. 

Procter & Gamble will have a smaller presence, although it is still an official CES sponsor. P&G was known for erecting an immersive display called LifeLab at the convention center, and it created a virtual version of the set-up over the past two years.

P&G will still send employees and display futuristic products at smaller booths in the Web3 and digital health sections of the show, a P&G spokeswoman said by email. P&G researcher Mark Sivik will also be at CES to host a live call with NASA astronauts on the International Space Station. Other company executives will join a discussion with startups at an area of CES known as Eureka Park to cover topics like data, artificial intelligence and other innovations in the consumer packaged goods space.


This article first appeared https://adage.com

Seeking to build and grow your brand using the force of consumer insight, strategic foresight, creative disruption and technology prowess? Talk to us at +971 50 6254340 or engage@groupisd.com or visit www.groupisd.com/story

About Author

Garett Sloane

Garett Sloane, Senior Reporter, Platforms

Comments are closed.