A look at CES C Space 2016

CSPACElogoOver 170,000 tech industry professionals traveled to Las Vegas last week for the Consumer Electronics Show otherwise known as CES. CES had all the latest products and services in the tech world covered at the Las Vegas Convention center and multiple hotels serving as venues. From exhibits of new autonomous cars and the latest wearable devices, to networking events, and celebrity appearances CES offers something for everyone including more for advertisers and marketers at C Space.

Although the show is primarily known for the launch of the latest and greatest gadgets in tech, it has grown to offer more for the advertising world. After all some of the biggest new products have advertising incorporated into their platforms and all of these new products need to be marketed as well.

CES crowd 2016

As CES defines, “C Space is the CES experience for creative communicators, brand marketers, advertising agencies, digital publishers and social networks. It tells the story of how content, creativity, technology and influencers come together to discover new ways to elevate their industry, business and brand.” Just like everyone else at CES who has the consumer in mind, C Space offered a lot of creative ways we should be thinking about the consumers as advertisers and marketers.

My experience at C Space was certainly a fresh outlook for someone used to participating in search conferences and primarily discussing digital advertising. It’s easy to recognize that there is more than search and social but seeing and hearing from lots of different types of advertisers in one place brought that to life nicely at C Space. Our world is intertwined in a number of different channels and devices that makes our knowledge and appreciation for this diversity vital to our abilities to advertise and interact with our audiences.

Cross device targeting, effectively combining different forms of advertising, and the ever-important focus of good content were themes discussed and promoted throughout C Space. This blog outlines the structure and content of C Space 2016, giving readers an idea of what participants learned and experienced last week.

C Space welcome sign 2016

C Space Exhibits:

The C Space exhibits were located at the Aria Conference Center away from the rest of the jam packed CES halls.  The majority of the exhibitors at the hall were various automated ad platforms promoting cross device targeting.  Adstream had a booth promoting split testing TV advertising and measuring multi-channel campaign effectiveness. Across the room, Alphonso, taught attendees about their platform to retarget TV viewers on mobile apps.  Magenetic presented information on their email alerts and recommendations for online shoppers.  Nearby Videoamp provided information on their cross-screen technology on the first screen optimization platform. Moreover, PlaceIQ presented PVR, Place Visit Rate, a metric that measures direct effect of advertising on actual visits to store and locations.

Overall the exhibit hall was relatively modest but it was supplemented with more elaborate hospitality suites.  Throughout the halls in the C Space area, a number of hospitality suites offered different forms of exhibits. The suites, which are listed in the image below, were all interactive and fun presentations on ways to target, capture, and convert audiences from various vendors in addition to spaces for those interested in meetings.

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C Space Conference Tracks:

In addition to exhibitors, C Space also included five tracks for marketing professionals. These tracks offered sessions with expert speakers and panels discussing anything from keeping brands relevant to techniques for using different kinds of media.

The following tracks and their discussion topics were part of C Space 2016.  For each track there were approximately 10 or so sessions relating to the track subjects.

  • Brands Working with Startups: This track provided examples of how brands collaborate with startups, important information for resources for startups at CES, and case studies featuring partnerships between leading marketers, agencies, and startups.
  • C Space Storytellers: Storytellers included a long list of expert speakers narrating the relationship between technology and the art of innovation.  Some examples of storytellers include a conversation between Kristin Lemkau, CMO JP Morgan and Gary Briggs, CMO and VP Product Marketing of Facebook on how technology is changing the way we connect with customers, Google’s story on micro-moments, and Yahoo’s take on the intersection of data, content, and technology.
  • Chief Digital Officer Forum: The form took a look at the way digital media and platforms are transforming how leading brands, agencies and media companies engage, and sell to, their customers.  The track also covered mobile, market places, and how this influences consumers, in addition to the use of analytics.
  • Marketing and Engagement: The track offered a mix of topics to help marketers reach specific users, utilize technology, and learn more about CES floor trends (the show is that big).
  • Marketing Reinvented: Brands discussed their transformation and marketing efforts to stay up to speed with the newest media and evolving ecosystems.

C Space panel

Technology remained a key theme throughout all the tracks, as most recognized many of the relationships and connections with various forms of marketing in our tech ecosystem.

Keynote Address:

The C Space keynote address was a one-on-one interview presented by Medialink. Medialink chairman and CEO, Michael Kassan, interviewed NBC Universal’s CEO, Steve Burke on a number of topics, including our favorite – digital advertising! Burke’s big message for the audience was to stop trying to preserve what currently works well but instead to take risks on new ideas and innovation.

C Space keynote 2016

One of the new ideas mentioned drove home one of the the general themes of C Space – synergy.  Burke spoke about encouraging different personalities and divisions to work together within one company for best results.  There is so much overlap in everything that it’s more beneficial to converge rather than dividing our creativity and various backgrounds.  Burke listed a number of examples but even within the marketing department digital advertisers are encouraged to collaborate with their counterparts working on radio or TV ads.

Another area of overlap is the countless ways our world’s are connected to the Internet. Despite his obvious support for TV advertising, Burke explained that the impact of the Internet in the television world has influenced NBC to incorporate the Internet in different ways this year.

To provide an example, Burke explained how NBC has consistently presented the Olympics in a certain structure for decades but will be collaborating with Buzzfeed for Rio 2016 as a method to get viewers and Internet users to think about the Olympics in a new way.  In an effort to draw in the Internet audience, Buzzfeed will post blogs on athletes that aren’t covered in NBC’s traditional pieces on the Olympic competitors. As Burke put it, a 20 year old at Buzzfeed is going to offer a perspective that NBC doesn’t have.

Although there are countless ways our developing technological worlds are presenting consumers and advertisers with new choices and channels, Burke reminded the audience that providing consumers with premium content continues to be one of the most important focuses.

General takeaways:

My biggest take away from C Space was to remain open minded about our approach and collaboration.  As digital advertisers, we can learn so much more about user behavior not by analyzing our traffic but by looking at users as people with lots of interests that cross over multiple devices.   The Internet has certainly taken over but it doesn’t mean we can’t learn from and teach other advertising channels.  We are pretty psyched about the science behind our SEO success, our conversion rates, and nailing our retargeting campaigns but at the end of the day it is about content and the consumer.

C Space presented a great reminder that it is incredibly important to know our users and to give them something great.  Providing consumers with quality content is at the core of our work but marketing messages that resonate across space will grow continuously important as our worlds and advertising channels collide and merge.

Melissa McDonald

About Melissa McDonald

Melissa McDonald is the International Marketing Manager at Yandex, Russia's leading search engine, which offers free English to Russian translation and optimization for advertisers. Melissa also regularly blogs for RussianSearchMarketing.com, a news and information resource for digital advertising in Russia.