#CES2015: Why Did B2B Marketers Attend?

Barbara Basney, Vice President, Global Advertising & Media, Xerox
“New technology innovations that debuted at CES create new channels for marketers to engage their audiences.” – Barbara Basney, vice president of Global Advertising and Media for Xerox

By Barbara Basney

It would have been hard lately to not see all the news and highlights from CES 2015. By its name, it sounds like a show that focuses on consumer-based electronics – which most find interesting on a personal basis. But, you many wonder: What does CES offer for B-to-B marketers?

Why would marketers go to an electronics show, when attending means fighting 160,000 other attendees, trying to see 3,500 exhibitors and tromping around a space that is 35 football fields  in size to see the latest in technology-driven innovation?

The power of CES is in showcasing how emerging technology will be applied to our daily lives – how we live, work, and (most important to marketers) communicate. Marketing, media, advertising and communications are massively impacted by technology. CES provides valuable insight into what is happening today, and more importantly, where it is all going tomorrow.

Marketers Will Have More Channels and Content Opportunities for Audience Engagement

The overarching takeaway from CES is technology that is enabling everything and everyone to be “connected” and “smart.” How this is materializing and impacting people’s lives at work, at home and even in our cars, provides marketers with new ways for engaging with their audience, as well as for creating engaging content for that audience. Furthermore, these new channels provide data streams that can help marketers understand their audiences better, and to communicate the right message, at the right time, to the right person.

The importance of CES for marketers is underscored by this year’s launch of C Space — a partnership between the Association of National Advertisers and the Consumer Electronics Association. C Space is a designated area specific to marketers, creative communicators, branding executives, agencies, and publishers. While C Space received a “C” from me, it was the first year, so I have no doubt it will grow and be a much stronger presence in the future.

Also noteworthy is how well attended CES was by the agency community. Our own global media agency, MEC, orchestrated a client experience that provided thought leadership to CES by hosting private presentation sessions.  One such session was an interview between MEC Global CEO Charles Courtier, and WPP Group Chairman Sir Martin Sorrell.  Per Sorrell, 2015 will be another year of “grinding it out.”  MEC also curated guided tours of the show floor –  which is the ONLY way to make sense of the CES mayhem.  Y&R’s Global CEO David Sable was also in attendance and hosted a small luncheon with David Shing, AOL’s Digital Prophet,  who shared fascinating insights and perspective on CES.

Unconventional Technology Demands Unconventional Thinking

While CES is a hotbed of innovation “brain candy,” be warned: You have to think out of the box a bit because the opportunity for marketers may not be what was actually featured at the show.

For example, from CES 2014, a virtual reality gamification technology called Oculus Rift was showcased. On its face, it had no applicability to marketers. But, with a little creative thinking it was applied successfully by GE, which used it to show their seabed factories used for deep sea oil and natural gas fields. These areas are rarely visited by humans in reality, but easily visited via virtual reality. On dry land, Marriott created virtual hotel experiences for some of their most exotic and remote destination properties. The only thing missing was the cool tropical breeze and the smell of jasmine.

My Key Takeaways from #CES2015

Considering both media and brand content, my notes from #CES2015 included:

  • The buzz about 4K high definition TVs is last year’s news, but interesting to track given the implications for creating TV content (like commercials). As 33 percent of consumers may purchase a 4K TV within the next 3 years, it is an adoption trend to “watch” – excuse my pun. And with Amazon and Netflix already shooting their original series in 4K, it won’t be long until this becomes mainstream.
  • Sling TV, launched by DISH, untethers channels from cable plans. It helps to enable true mobility as a Web-based offering for live and on-demand TV content via the Internet to screens of any size. So, truly seamless omnipresent entertainment that you want, without what you don’t’ want – it’s a game change at only $20/month.
  • TapSense’s Programmatic Advertising Platform released exclusively for the coveted Apple Watch launch in March. I can’t wait to see how this new platform is used by the launch partner marketers.



  • Driverless cars are a new channel for marketers to capture the full attention of passengers, as cars become the new consoles. One example shown at CES was Mercedes –Benz Luxury in Motion concept vehicle. In that car, even when you reached your destination, you wouldn’t want to get out.
  • Mash.me creates animated video using a webcam and a human model — a much easier and less costly approach for creating animated content.
  • Girophic 360Cam shoots video with a 360 degree radius. It seems like this has creative potential for some interesting applications.
  • Skipstone – the first interactive video platform.  Clear implications for product videos, and so much more.

So to my marketing colleagues: Don’t underestimate the relevance of CES for creativity, content and communications. And maybe we can lobby CES to do a bit of rebranding: I vote for the “Connected Engagement Show.”  What do you think?

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  1. Skipstone mention by xerox February 16, 2015 - Reply

    […] The full article can be found here. […]

    • Gregory Pings February 17, 2015 - Reply

      I watched the brief video on the link you shared. Not only does it tell me exactly what Skipstone is, it told a very nice story about fathers and sons. Nice work!

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