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By Lara O'Reilly
Many marketers' yearly calendars revolve around two major industry events: the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity every summer on the French Riviera, and the CES consumer electronics show, which took place in Las Vegas this week.
While many of the same marketers, agencies and media companies attend both, the events play out differently. Where Cannes is more about "the creative aspect of being a marketer," according to Pandora Media Inc. Chief Marketing Officer Aimée Lapic, "CES is squarely about tech, future consumer behavior, what's happening now and what may happen in the future."
Marketing has become "much more of a technology function," according to International Business Machines Corp. CMO Michelle Peluso. "The intersection of marketing and tech is so critical right now that there's a strong, great reason to be [at CES], to be exploring and thinking about what's coming."
Marketing technology accounted for nearly a third of marketing expenses in 2018, according to a Gartner survey of more than 600 marketers in North America and the U.K., up from 22% the year earlier.
Anticipation and hype around the ever-closer arrival of 5G wireless service dominated CES this year. Marketers took notice.
The high speed of data transmission via 5G will be transformational across everything from phones to cars to augmented reality, Adobe Systems Inc. CMO Ann Lewnes said.
Stephanie McMahon, chief brand officer at World Wrestling Entertainment Inc., also singled out 5G as one of the biggest trends of the show. "The speed and quality of content: That's probably the most important technology for us as a company right now," she said.
"5G has really risen, and now there is a real expectation of moving from talk and the possibilities to turning that to reality" in 2019 and 2020, said Molly Battin, executive vice president and global chief communications and corporate marketing officer for Turner, part of AT&T Inc.'s WarnerMedia division.
Voice and artificial intelligence continued to be key themes at CES 2019. "Voice activation is becoming a really large part of what we plan to do in the future in how we serve both music and podcasts to listeners, " said Pandora's Ms. Lapic.
Elsewhere, it wouldn't be a technology show without a smattering of robots. One that particularly caught the eye of Unilever PLC CMO Keith Weed was German automotive company Continental AG's robot delivery "dogs" that can step over objects and walk up stairs to deliver parcels.
"The big challenge of e-commerce is not the big warehouses holding products and making sure orders are made, but the cost is in that last mile of delivering objects," Mr. Weed said. He was also impressed by Hyundai's "walking car" concept, Elevate, that uses robotic legs to traverse rough terrain, a technology that could help Unilever in its work to deliver relief to disaster zones.
Beyond the gadgets and consumer products on display, CES also acts as a marketing showcase with oceans of advertising aimed at attendees. (More than 182,000 people went to CES last year, according to organizers.)
Google plastered the Las Vegas monorail and area billboards with the familiar "Hey Google" command to wake up its Home voice assistant. The display continued inside the convention center, where Google's show booth featured an "It's a Small World"-style theme park ride. Google had more than 55,000 CES-related mentions on news sites, blogs, forums and social media over the seven days through early Friday morning, according to social-media analysis company Talkwalker.
Apple Inc., which traditionally doesn't set up a presence at industry trade shows, taunted its Silicon Valley rivals with a billboard reading "What happens on your iPhone, stays on your iPhone" -- a privacy-focused play on the "What happens here, stays here" marketing slogan for the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority. (Apple had around 45,600 CES-related mentions throughout the week, according to Talkwalker.)
Marketers themselves are in high demand at CES, where they face a deluge of meeting requests from vendors, as well as invitations to panels and the parties where musical acts such as Seal and Rita Ora played this year.
With all the activity, some don't even make it to the Las Vegas Convention Center, where the gadgets are on display. "It's a huge travesty for a number of reasons," said Kieran Hannon, CMO of consumer electronics marketer Belkin International Inc., which had a large stand at the convention center. "You don't get to experience the products people are talking about and impacting all our lives...Those experiences remain in our minds -- we can forget about a PowerPoint presentation in a heartbeat. If you don't actually experience and go through it, why bother?"
Write to Lara O'Reilly at email@example.com
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
January 11, 2019 15:03 ET (20:03 GMT)
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