What happens in Vegas is meant to stay in Vegas. But as the dust settles on four days of gadget-based excitement at CES, there’s a sense that the technology showcased across 2.5 million square feet of exhibition space in the Mojave Desert will eventually have an impact on a global scale.
CES gives us a glimpse into the future through a prism of technologies that are slowly beginning to embed themselves into consumers’ lives. But we need to take a moment before jumping in.
Because of its rising profile, and the fact it remains slightly separated from the media industry, tech can be a distracting problem for agencies. In an effort to bridge the gap between these worlds, the temptation is to rush to add shiny, new technologies to an ever-expanding mix of channels.
In this context, technologies can become regarded as cherries, used to adorn the top of otherwise uninspired plans and sold as new channels to market. Worse, they are treated as ideas in their own right, as if people will flock to them by dint of their novelty alone.
Only these technologies aren’t the same as channels or ideas – they’re interfaces. They represent another means of interacting with consumers across channels but they don’t necessarily bring together content and context into a fully coherent environment.
The likes of AR, voice, visual search, facial recognition, gesture control, VR, bots, are simply not environment-based verticals with their own unique behaviours. Neither are they communication ideas in themselves. But they are increasingly reaching into the ‘traditional’ channels to open up new possibilities.
As such, we need to start embedding them deeper into the communications plan, or ignore them altogether.
By freeing ourselves from the fallacy that technology by itself equals impact, we can start to think seriously about creativity in the channels where the majority of investment goes.
We should see the ever-expanding suite of new interfaces as part of an armoury of creative tools to bring to life the big communication idea that reaches across disciplines. A single audacious thought, writ large with ambition, and bigger than the sum of its parts.
These are the ideas that blur media boundaries entirely, get real people talking, and are impossible to ascribe to one box.
That certainly sounds like an exciting future to me. And there’s not a cherry in sight.