What CES Revealed for Marketers

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Sensors and Alexa proliferated, but the tech conference really confirmed what marketers already knew.

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As futuristic tech conferences go, this year's Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas  was among the strangest. The annual event lasted four days and wrapped Sunday.

This year's CES offered few landmark tech advancements, and perhaps too many odd tech innovations. From smart underwear to smart jeans, from smart hair brushes to a robot that pushes buttons for you, odd technology abounded, but even in this madness, one thing remains clear for marketers: the Internet of Things is more than a trendy buzzword.

Sensors

Vibrating jeans and listening hairbrushes are strange novelties indeed, but they each represent a trend in the smartening of everyday products, namely the proliferation of sensors. As more products connect to the internet, the sensors that power their connectivity become another channel in the stream of data at marketers' disposal.

The increasing prominence of sensors forecasts an expansion of the data economy, which is currently controlled by tech giants like Amazon, Facebook, and Google. It's unclear if marketers will have direct access to this data themselves, but in either case, data is probably going to get very interesting in the coming months.

Alexa

Amazon's popular virtual assistant Alexa seemed to be integrated in every new IoT device at this year's CES. Huawei's next smartphone comes equipped with the virtual assistant, which seems more in line with the current trend of virtual assistants since most of them live on smartphones. But Alexa will also appear in a new wave of smart TVs, autonomous vehicles and their dashboards, and other home appliances. Time will tell whether safety concerns arise in the case of self-driving cars in particular, as vehicle assistants seem to be the next frontier for many virtual assistants, including Alexa.

While Alexa is hardly the only virtual assistant in town, that it's expanding so quickly around the home is something marketers should note. This isn't to say Alexa will be the VA of choice going forward. More that virtual assistants, like the IoT, seem to be emerging as a staple in our digitally enhanced lives, and will likely have a place in marketing strategy going forward.

More of the same

It sounds like a pejorative, but it's not. There was little in the way of new tech for marketers to watch out for. But CES 2017 was the confirmation marketers were looking for that IoT is more than a mere trend.

Customers crave creativity, or at least that's what the bevy of tech developers believe. Either way, consumers are continuing to connect any and everything. Gift or curse, this is a trend that will likely influence marketing in 2017.

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