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CES 2024 kicks off with the rapidly expanding impact of AI on media and marketing front and center

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It will surprise no one attending the 2024 Consumer Electronics Show that AI will be stealing the spotlight this week. But the bigger question will be where companies place their bets even after leaving Las Vegas.

While CES 2024 will have dozens of sessions related to AI, there are also plenty of AI talks specifically about marketing, social media and entertainment. Even before CES officially begins tomorrow, today’s talks during the media preview include titles like “Virtual Humans: Hollywood CGI to Generative AI Video & Chatbots” and “Monetizing Immersive Hollywood = Real-time AI + Advertising + Metaverse.” 

CES 2024 will also include AI policy discussions with speakers from various parts of the U.S. government. Along with a bi-partisan panel about emerging tech policy — featuring U.S. Senators Ben Ray Lujan, Jacky Rosen, and Cynthia Lummis — other conversations feature representatives from the Federal Trade Commission, U.S. Dept. of Commerce, the National Security Council, and U.S. Treasury Department. 

The ubiquity of AI is also leading to a sense of peer pressure when it comes to both onstage discussions and product debuts. According to Forrester analyst Dipanjan Chatterjee, past surveys conducted by the research firm show that business execs and consumers still don’t understand AI — but that doesn’t appear to be preventing them from talking about it. 

“It’s almost like you’re guilty by omission,” Chatterjee said. “No one’s gonna penalize you for putting in something that doesn’t pan out. But somehow, if you don’t have AI sort of sprinkled all over, you’re not doing something right.”

This year will have four different “flavors of AI,” said Chatterjee. One will be the AI-enablers like the chip makers whose products power AI under-the-hood. Another flavor comes in the form of companies “name-dropping AI” by putting layers of AI on devices akin to how manufacturers in past years made every device become “smart.” The third flavor will feature the wave of consultancies and other companies offering a knowledge layer around AI. And the final revolves around ethical discussions. Although AI has “far-reaching implications for human kind,” Chatterjee said those ethical discussions during CES are also at risk of being drowned out by all the other hype.

One of the lead sponsors for CES 2024 is Walmart. The retail giant will have its own keynote presentation for the second year in a row alongside other keynotes from Qualcomm, Hyundai, Siemens and Intel. (Just last week, Intel announced it was spinning out a new enterprise-grade generative AI startup as a standalone company called Articul8.)

Despite all the hype around AI, some of the biggest players in the space won’t have an outsize presence. Microsoft won’t be an exhibitor during CES 2024, but instead will showcase its tech on an event microsite. Other companies like Meta are also downsizing, choosing instead to use the week mostly to meet with clients.

And while other major AI competitors will be showing up, including Google and Amazon, while other important players such as Adobe and Shutterstock will be taking the stag, other popular AI startups — including OpenAI, Anthropic and Midjourney — don’t appear anywhere on the schedule.

As the third flavor above suggests, one of the consultancies that will have a presence is PwC, which will be hosting floor tours and events throughout the week for clients. Emmanuelle Rivet, PwC’s vice chair and U.S. TMT & Global Technology Leader, expects many discussions about AI will focus on issues like how companies can secure a return on investments, as well as risk-management and business strategy. 

Beyond all the new tech debuting during CES, companies also plan to spend 2024 thinking more about AI governance, including ways to audit data and AI systems. That’s especially important as new and potential future AI and privacy regulations are discussed and considered in the U.S. and around the world. This is also leading more companies to adopt compliance by design to build responsible AI systems from the beginning. According to Rivet, having controls at the backend doesn’t scale for some type of emerging tech. 

“I think the governance question comes comes into play pretty quickly once companies have had a couple of nonmaterial use cases and have started using the technology,” Rivet said. “Then to really roll it at scale, you need to have the right framework to do it responsibly with managing your risk.”

According to a new report about AI conducted by the research firm Advertiser Perceptions, 39% of marketers said their ad dollars in the AI/ML marketplace were focused on text-based gen AI tools while 29% mentioned investing in gen AI tools for image. However, another 37% said their AI/ML dollars were devoted to tools for performance/optimization. 

Advertiser Perceptions also found marketers still have plenty of trust issues around using AI. Less than a fourth of advertisers said they “completely” or “mostly” trust AI to make campaign decisions without human oversight. That said, two thirds of marketers were willing to advertise within AI-generated content if able to verify brand suitability.

“It’s kind of like a chicken or egg thing,” said Nicole Perrin, one of the authors of the report. “Do you use AI only after you already trust it, or only if you already trust it? Or do you experiment with it and then start to trust it and then keep using it? Does someone have to trust AI before they try it out? Or is trust something that you can build through trial and experimentation?”

All we know is CES will ask many of those questions, but for now the answers remain in the realm of Roulette. — Marty Swant

Omnicom highlights influencers/creators for its CES focus

The annual Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas has grown far past its tech- and gadget-heavy roots, to the point where every agency holding company looks to plant its own flag around a certain topic. 

For Omnicom, the topic for this year is the growing world of influencers and creators, who have come to dominate so much of the social media space they’ve spilled out into other media channels. And now that they have, Omnicom is treating them as a legitimate media channel — by measuring them, benchmarking their presence on platforms and building them into its systems through a variety of partnerships the holding company is announcing over the course of CES. 

It all starts with a longitudinal study Omnicom executed in November 2023, conducted with 1,062 people through its Omni Signal consumer research organ — part of Omni, the holding company’s operating platform connecting all its agencies and services. 

The aim is to benchmark and track the growing impact that influencers are having at all points of the customer journey, and gain insight into how, when, where and with whom creators are influencing consumer’s actions across a variety of platforms.  

The study found that the younger you are, the more likely a creator is going to hold more sway over your purchase decisions. Although the influencer world is generally seen as an upper-funnel marketing option, with Gen Z, the sway spreads further down.

For another, it’s the influencer not the platform that’s going to have an effect on consumer discovery or purchase decisions, explained Kevin Blazaitis, who heads Omnicom Media Group’s influencer practice. 

“For those [consumers] under the age of 35, they’re not only more likely to take an immediate purchase action from an influencer, but they’re likely to take that purchase action in platform,” said Blazaitis. “Which is huge when you think about the ability to convert very quickly and introduce somebody to a product, have them purchase it and walk away with it right there.”

The study also found some distinction among the platforms, including:

  • YouTube is singularly strong across the entire purchase journey; 
  • Amazon Storefronts are starting to win over more younger cohorts;
  • Facebook is the top performer for the taking consumers directly to purchase site;
  • And, if it’s not already obvious, TikTok is the primary vehicle to attract Gen Z by far. 
  • Even more importantly, influencers and creators have muscled their way to the forefront of having an effect on purchase decisions, according to the research.   

“As a go-to source of information, or reliance on a source for information, right after word of mouth, friends and family come social influencers — more so than any other form of advertising,” said Pam Marsh, managing director for primary research at Omnicom Media Group North America. “It’s certainly a media touch point where people are not just learning from but are proactively going to and relying upon social influencers across their consumer journey.” 

Which is why Omnicom’s recent acquisition of Flywheel — the deal just officially closed last week — is an important through point in what the holding company is doing. “As engagement increases, how can the trust of purchase really drive that through? And Flywheel and everything else coming on will only add to Omnicom’s capabilities for that, especially when you start thinking about connecting creators to commerce,” said Blazaitis. — Michael Bürgi

Elsewhere from CES

Hot topics on the minds of CES ad execs

Investment in diverse-owned media and how advertisers can reach diverse audiences will continue to be a big topic of conversation. Raptive is the #1 source of diverse-owned media on the open web, at nearly 30% of the total ad inventory (according to Jounce Media’s September 2023 report). We are also the most direct path an advertiser can take to ensure the most money makes it into the hands of the diverse-owned media owner. By going directly to us, advertisers cut out unnecessary revenue-sharing layers along the supply chain, removing waste and avoiding poor-performing media, MFAs, and more — Marla Newman, evp of sales at ad management firm Raptive

Of course, cookie deprecation is also top of mind for everyone given Google’s changes this week. We will continue to actively encourage partners to test some of the leading alternative IDs that are providing considerable performance benefits for publishers and buyers. Ultimately, both buyers and sellers are looking for efficient, effective advertising solutions and will be having conversations with their partners at CES about how best to leverage technology to deliver them — Jaan Janes, vp of publisher partnerships at supply-side platform PubMatic — as told to Seb Joseph

Veteran’s tip of the day

Beat the desert thirst trap without breaking the bank. Kevin Gentzel, Newsweek’s global chief commercial and growth officer, spills a hydration hack: Skip the $10 casino water robbery. Instead, hit the convenience store next to the Cosmopolitan. Snag a crate of water on check-in, save big, and stay hydrated like a pro. — as told to Seb Joseph; Read the full veteran’s guide to CES.

What to do

9 a.m. to 9:40 a.m. 2024: The AI Inflection Point – Entertainment, Internet & Media at Aria, Level 1, Joshua 9

11 a.m. to noon Future of TV & Streaming: Cable, Internet TV & FAST Strategies at Aria, Level 1, Joshua 8

1 p.m. to 1:45 p.m. All Media is Social Media = The Supercharged Consumer Experience at Aria, Level 1, Joshua 8

6:30 to 7:30 p.m. Hear from keynote Siemens CEO Dr. Roland Busch on how brands are using technology at Venetian, Level 5, Palazzo Ballroom

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