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BlueGlass Partners with The Financial Times to Launch Comprehensive Content Marketing White Paper
BlueGlass joins forces with The Financial Times (FT) to offer tips, strategies and expert advice on the changing landscape of content marketing.
Statistics show that while content marketing budgets have increased by 300% year-on-year, engagement rates have stalled – just 5% of content attracts 95% of overall engagement. To combat this, the FT has launched a new content marketing white paper, partnering with content marketing agency BlueGlass to create the piece.
The paper offers insights such as:
The biggest challenges facing content marketers in 2018 are limited time, and a struggle to prove ROI
Financial publishers spend 2.4x as long producing content as other industries, but the content performs 20% worse than average
Content republishing can significantly boost ROI
The FT worked with BlueGlass to help develop their B2B content strategy. Following a successful project, they spotted an opportunity to help a broader audience improve their content marketing, and compiled a white paper of best practices, strategic advice and statistics. Readers will learn how to leverage strategy, creation and promotion to make long-lasting improvements to their approach – the white paper cites these as the most critical aspects of a solid content strategy.
As content marketing continues to evolve rapidly, it is clear that marketers are struggling to keep up. Channels are becoming more diluted and are frequently disrupted by new technology. The white paper explores these issues, offering statistics and guidance. The research finds that one of the biggest challenges for content marketers is the perceived skill gap in content creation, suggesting that building a foundation of content processes and strategy is more important than ever. The collaboration is filled with practical advice on how to help brands achieve this, enhancing their ability to navigate emerging trends and improve ROI.
Kevin Gibbons, CEO of BlueGlass, said: “I am excited to collaborate with The Financial Times on this content marketing white paper. Content marketing doesn’t have to be complicated, but the statistics show that it remains a problem for marketers. I hope the insights in this paper can help to simplify that issue.”
For more information, or to download the paper, click here.
Five ways Artificial Intelligence could power content marketing
Last week I went to an event hosted by StoryStream, which bills itself as as a ‘next generation content marketing platform for brands.’ To help launch its new Aura platform, more on which in a moment, the company assembled a trio of AI experts to discuss how the technology might impact on marketing in the coming years.
After an hour or so of fascinating debate it became clear that Artificial Intelligence tools for marketers have huge potential – it is just down to the foresight and imagination of those marketers as to how they are used and how effective they are.
So how then might AI impact on the future of content marketing? Here are five ways that it is being used already that are likely to become a lot more common in the future.
1. Content creation – Robots are already replacing journalists at some media companies, but their role is rather limited. As Francesca Marconi of Associated Press, which has been experimenting with AI in this way, explained recently, “there are many good examples of projects with automated insights. We take structured data (eg sports and financial data) and then develop the templates which include specific sentences. The AI matches the data with the template to generate a story that is readable by humans. This is automation with little human intervention.”
In the future it is possible that longer, more complex pieces of content, can be created using AI. But as Francesca, and many others point out, AI will never totally replace humans in content creation.
The next area of content creation likely to be disrupted by AI is video and I think this is where brands will start to become more interested. They will be able to create video templates leaving the AI to fill in the gaps, such as adding the words, reordering the images/footage. Those caption-led videos, which can potentially be personalised to suit differing customers personas, are going to be very simple to produce at scale.
2. Image and content management – This is one of the areas that StoryStream is innovating in. Its new Aura AI system uses visual recognition technology to help brands find images that are likely to resonate best with customers. The platform assesses images rating their appropriateness for a campaign, looking not just at what is in the image (location, colours, objects etc) but also factors like how it might emotionally connect with users. In addition to smart digital asset management, Aura also delivers multi-channel publishing and supports this with content analytics.
To stand out on platforms like Instagram and Snapchat brands are going to need to get cleverer at choosing images. Harnessing AI to collect the most appropriate ones and optimise them for each campaign will help savvier companies stand out.
3. Customer insight and personalisation – AI can create thousands of custom personas driven by data information from the obvious (age, demographics etc) to the more subtle (previous communications, referral source). These can then be used to pull together email lists which can be very tightly targeted.
There are many companies operating in this space inducing Dynamic Yield, which also offers an AI powered content recommendation system and Richrelevance.
Content personalisation has been a key trend for several years now. AI’s trump card is that it enables brands to do it quickly and at scale.
4. Chatbots and conversational content – One of the many ways bigger brands are experimenting with AI at the moment is via chatbots which are invariably used in customer relations. They run from the very basic through to ultra sophisticated bots like the one which powers the excellent fintech app Cleo.
A couple of years ago some publishers got very excited about the potential of chatbots for recommending content, and this yielded some interesting experiments. The best of which is the very smart Quartz app which suggest news stories it thinks its readers are most likely to view in an informal and engaging way. National Geographic also deployed an Albert Einstein bot to promote its Genius series about the scientist.
The opportunity for brands is to use chatbots to find out more information about their customers and then to use this data via AI to present them with relevant content. A good example of this is Tommy Hilfiger’s Facebook Messenger bot TMY.GRL which takes a conversational approach to gently push users towards content on the Tommy Hilfiger site.
5. Optimising PPC advertising – AI is at its most potent if it can mine large amounts of data to find trends and then make recommendations. This makes it ideal for managing PPC advertising. One company that might be providing a glimpse of the future is Albert. They have an AI powered platform that can process the data from omni channel campaigns and then make recommendations to which channels are the most successful at engaging with customers and delivering results. London based Clicteq operates in a similar space offering an AI automated approach to both paid search and paid social.
Ashley Norris, Consultant Editor, The CMA
Are brands still missing a trick with long-form content?
Have you ever heard of Julia McCoy? If not you should have. She is clearly a very impressive individual who has overcome significant difficulties to become the CEO of a content creation company aged just 25. Her company is thriving too notching up over $4 million in revenue last year.
In many ways the business model powering her company, ExpressWriters, is not a million miles away from many agencies both in the UK and across the globe, but what differentiates Julia from many others is her passionate belief in long-form content.
She advocates consistently creating content on as weekly basis. However, as McCoy told Forbes that’s one long-form content piece (2,500 word) per week.
It is a tad ironic that in an age where so much focus is placed on video, as well as podcasting, that for Julia and others too that words, and lots of them, should be the key to content marketing success. In some ways it flies against established notions of content. We don’t want to read large chunks of content on our mobiles apparently. Also for many journalists, especially those brought up in the print age and a maxim of not wasting a word, creating large amounts of content for its own sake seems to go against their instincts.
Nevertheless the evidence continues to grow that long-form is a highly effective way of not just attracting audiences, but also turning them into partners and customers. In mainstream media it has arguably powered the renaissance in subscriptions and membership of both The New York Times and The Guardian for example, and is a staple in business titles.
The secret sauce of Julia’s long-form content is that it is deeply rooted in content strategy and especially SEO. She stresses creating a customer persona to begin with and imagining the type of content that the person will engage with. And then, using tools like KWFinder and SEMrush, discovering low competition keywords that the content can address.
Then after the groundwork has been done it is done to the skill of the writer. Harnessing research, embedding keywords and writing authoritatively in a post which they aim to be the last word on a particular subject is not an easy task. Getting the subject matter right is equally as important. The sweet spot is to answer readers’ questions on a subject in an evergreen way, yet is perhaps linked to something that is newsworthy, thereby attracting both current and future searches.
There is still some discussion about Google’s attitude to long-form, but the consensus is that it likes and respects it. Just as important longer pieces of content seem much more likely to be shared on social media thereby bolstering SEO credentials through the back door too. Perhaps readers respect the amount of effort that has gone into producing content and are happy to salute that diligence via a share.
The other thing to remember about long-form content is that results aren’t always instantaneous. Publishers play a long game with it. As Julia suggests results should be considered over a two year period rather than a two month one.
So why then do so many brands feel agnostic about long-form? The key reasons are inevitably time and resources. It seem far more sensible to create a multitude of smaller chunks of content in the hope that one might attract lots of readers, rather that betting on one piece of content that has taken days, possibly weeks to produce. Yet those small chunks can easily be overlooked.
All premium content is time consuming, expensive and challenging especially video and podcasts, yet brands are very excited about both of those formats at the current time. Maybe words, and lots of them, are seen as a little old fashioned.
Ultimately long-form is one of a series of tactics that brands need to adopt to ensure that their owned media is perceived as authoritative and attracts significant search, and in some instances, social traffic. However it is the tactic that not enough brands are using and that could mean missing some very significant opportunities.
Ashley Norris, Consultant Editor, The CMA
Content Detox – Your February diet plan
Can you believe how quickly January came and went? Like others across the UK, I spent the last 31 days on a detox. I didn’t go as far as Dry January and Veganuary. But January’s objective to rid my body of the bad and make room for the good has been OK. And just like everyone else, I look forward to these detoxes and believe that these little or big changes can make a significant difference, particularly when it comes to content. Just stay with me for a minute and I’ll explain.
Whether you are a staff writer or the CMO, everyone is responsible for the content that your brand creates and, as a result, the performance of said content should be at the forefront of your 2018 marketing plans. Having too much content, like holding on to that added weight from Christmas, can limit the true value and potential for your content to grow naturally. So, let’s make February the month to shed that unnecessary fat from your content to make 2018 the best year for your brand.
As we continue as an industry to create audience-focused content, we need to be aware that the needs of our audience change over time. What was exciting and interesting in January last year may not be the same 12 months later and it could be that the people we are targeting have changed too. That’s not to say we should edit or remove every blog post and asset we’ve ever created. But we should take a moment to reassess and look at the data and performance to make relevant tweaks that will ensure your content is working as hard as possible.
How – The 2018 Content Detox Plan
Like any good personal trainer would, it’s important to come up with a plan. In our world, the role of PT would be played by a Content Strategist or Insights team and our fitness plan would be a Content and Performance Audit. Here are, in my opinion, the most important factors to consider during a Content Detox.
The initial consultation: It’s important to know what you want to achieve from your content detox. Set yourself an objective, goals and measures of what success looks like and write it down. Are you going to reassess your audience, review your content or both? Invite a variety of team members to consult
The weigh-in: You’ve got to know your starting point and ask yourself: what are my vital metrics? This will allow you to measure the success of the project. In this instance, you need to audit your content (not a quick task) and make an extensive list of all the content you’ve created. A list of URL’s isn’t enough in my opinion. We want to see what the content is doing. You might create an Excel that looks at; URL, content type, where the content lives on the site, the author, go live date, avg. time, new visits, bounce rate, social shares (by platform), number of links and linking root domains
Detox: Now you’ve got a lay of the land, priorities are your next step to start the detox. Question the dead weight content, update and optimise the performing. Consider re-sharing relevant evergreen, review internal linking and identify any new gaps for new content creation in 2018.
Tracking & results: Build out a report. Do the same for your content. Track the performance results and continue to repeat the process steps. As they say, Rome wasn’t built in a day.
Positive change: This should be a life change, not a one hit wonder. Continue to measure your results and continuously audit content that’s been created. How is it performing, could it be doing more or is in impacting customer journeys in a negative way? Start to make your positive changes today!
Start your Content Detox today and set yourself up for an exciting 2018!
Andy Edmonds, Head of Content, iProspect
5 Things Your Mentor Didn’t Teach You About Marketing
Marketing is part art, part science and part skill. Put all three of these pieces of the puzzle together and you get impressive results, regardless of whether you’re looking for high converting lead-generation or you’re looking for product sales. Even if you have a mentor or not, there’s a lot of trial and error involved with putting forward solid marketing campaigns. Here are five things you should know, that your mentor most likely didn’t mention.
Marketing successfully requires you understand human psychology
There’s no good way of getting around this. If you haven’t taken some courses in human psychology, particularly courses dealing with what motivates people to action, you’re going to have a challenging time executing a successful marketing campaign. Chances are if your mentor touched on this topic it was from a “how do you get people to buy from YOU” perspective.
Instead, start thinking about what traits your target audience has and how you can tap into those traits to move them to action.
For example, if you’re running a marketing campaign for a chain of hotels, think about who will be staying at your hotels. Are they business people? Families? Couples? Singles getting away? What is it about your hotel and your marketing plan that will motivate these people to want to select your chain? It’s about more than saying that you have amenities they want. Plenty of other chains do that. It’s about motivating them to pick up their laptop, tablet or phone and book a room with your chain. The triggering factor can be different for each group you’re trying to appeal to.
Marketing well requires a lot of emotional energy in the beginning
When you want to market well and impress people, you’ve got to go above and beyond when starting out. It makes sense that it takes more effort to get things started when first getting the word out, but what no one tells you is that in addition to physical and mental stamina, marketing well takes a lot of emotional energy. You need to be mentioning your project or product to everyone who will listen, and that can be taxing – particularly for introverts. Make sure to take some time away from marketing each day to do things you love that will refresh you. Otherwise, you may find yourself burned out before you make your first 10 sales.
Even when things are going well, and you’re flush with work or product production, you must keep your marketing fresh
There is a huge temptation, particularly for small businesses, to stop marketing once there is a full slate of projects or demand meets the current production rate. This is a huge mistake. You need to, at the very least, keep marketing efforts up. But just keeping marketing efforts where they are won’t be enough to produce the next generation of clients and customers. Instead, it’s important to continually improve and hone your marketing techniques to be sure that you continue to bring customers in at your preferred rate and to ensure that you’re bringing in the right customers and clients for your business goals. Sometimes small businesses become overwhelmed trying to keep up with marketing and customer fulfillment tasks. These are the moments when it’s time to consider outsourcing something to an expert or team of experts.
It is easy to overcommit yourself when it comes to social media
It’s tempting to “do all the things” when it comes to social media, but overcommit to it early, and you’ll find yourself in over your head. Even with the best mentor, it can be easy to take on too much when it comes to your social media routines. As soon as work goes busy, you may find yourself in over your head and unable to keep pace with what you were previously committed to. Instead, start slow. You can always add more Tweets and more Facebook posts and more platforms as time goes on. However, if you start with posting 30 times a day on Twitter throughout the day, and suddenly all you can muster is 5 posts a day, you’re going to be hard-pressed to find the motivation to get even those five posts up. Start small, and if you can do extra, do so – as you build up your business.
There’s a corollary to this – make sure what you’re sharing and doing on social media is useful. Don’t just share things to share, retweet to retweet, like to like. Instead, be sure that what you’re doing on Twitter builds value for your intended audience – and for your own business.
It is easy to become overwhelmed with all the available “best practices” and marketing advice out there
Let’s face it, there is a lot of content and social media marketing advice floating around out there. Some of it is good, some of it is regurgitated stuff that’s been around for a long time, and a lot of it is fluff. Not all advice is created equal. Moreover, even when it comes to great advice, you may find that some of it is contradictory, some of it won’t apply to your business field, and there is just so much of it.
Don’t try to keep up with all the sources of information about industry best practices. Instead, pick a few reliable resources that apply to the type of business you have and follow their blogs. Don’t try to implement everything all at once. Instead, keep a running list of things to try wherever you keep your notes or action items lists. This will help keep you from getting overwhelmed. Learn to scan articles for relevant information – and then move on!
What do you wish you’d learned from your mentor before you’d jumped into marketing?
So many people wind up learning what they don’t know very quickly when they start out with their marketing tasks. It’s important to learn what you don’t know and fill in the gaps, but it’s also important to learn when it’s okay to let things go. What did you need to learn on the job? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments – you never know who you might help!
Ronda Bowen, Writer, EnVeritas
A DAY IN THE LIFE OF GIUSEPPE BLOOM-MANGIONE, MANAGING DIRECTOR, MAHLAB EMEA
Giuseppe worked at Mahlab, an editorially led content marketing agency, for four years in Sydney, Australia, before moving back to the UK in 2016 to be with family. His role involved growing the business and implementing teams for key brand clients across APAC. He is now leading Mahlab’s London office to work with clients across the EMEA region.
6am, and my alarm goes off. Same time every day like clockwork. I start my day with the most important things: kissing my wife good morning and giving our dog @siralfredwinston a cuddle. In the comfort of bed, I check Slack to see what’s been going on in our Australian office overnight. I reply to anything that needs my immediate attention as it’s 5pm in Sydney and approaching the end of the working day. I then have a quick read of the news via the Quartz Daily Brief email. 6:20am time to get out of bed and into my PE kit. Reluctantly, most days start with some sort of physical activity. On Mondays I do meditation, Wednesdays are for yoga and today I’m running the perimeter of Wandsworth Common with pooch Alfred.
Back home by 7:15am. I shower, get dressed and have breakfast with my wife. I drink Huel, a meal supplement that is vegan friendly, packed with all the nutrients I need and great for when there’s little time to spare. I grab my bag for the day that I prepared last night and get out the door by 8am.
After a 45-minute commute spent thinking about the day ahead, I’m at our Google Campus workspace in Old Street and ready to go for 9am. I’m building a brand new office here in London and am very focussed on our goals for the first year. Between 9am and 1pm today, I have one sole focus: talking to brands and marketers we’d like to work with. We’re fortunate to be working with some fantastic brands in APAC and want to speak with as many potential clients in EMEA as possible, so we’re simultaneously running outbound email campaigns, content marketing, PPC and planning a series of events. This all requires a lot of attention to detail, so I only stop to respond to incoming emails that need urgent attention. During the course of the morning, I receive a couple of meeting requests, and four marketers in the technology and financial services industries, verticals in which we are experts, have requested more information about Mahlab. A great start to the day.
1pm, and time to break for lunch. I grab a bite to eat from the onsite cafe and speak to our social media lead to discuss the Facebook News Feed algorithm changes and how they will affect Facebook communities. I’m especially interested to know how Direct Advice for Dads, the community and content site of 60,000+ new and expecting dads that we have developed with Health Insurer HBF, will be affected by the changes. The latest algorithm update will deprioritise the content of brand pages and publishers in order to help people have more “meaningful social interactions on the platform”. Although Facebook has been warning us about this for quite some time and it shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise, for some brands and publishers who depend on the platform for distribution, engagement, customer service and monetisation, it’s going to cause some challenges. While it isn’t possible to predict the full impact of this change, we see this as a great opportunity to explore new and innovative content distribution strategies. It is now more important than ever for brands to create genuine connections with their audience on their owned channels by creating journalistic-led content.
Giuseppe taking home Gold at The International Content Marketing Awards for Direct Advice for Dads
We then decide to write the first draft of an article to explain these changes and suggestions to our clients and close community.
The rest of my day is a combination of meetings and video calls with our strategy, editorial, creative and video teams. We’re working on a big pitch at the moment and putting finishing touches to the presentation deck. I also have a separate call to discuss a shoot and campaign we’re running next week for a large education provider. I make some edits to the pitch deck and double check all the figures meticulously. Then I send/respond to some more emails and before I know it, it’s nearly 6pm.
I leave work and get home just before 7pm, walk Alfred and then head out to dinner with my wife. Tonight we’re eating at our friend’s new restaurant, Darwin in Clapham. The food is amazing.
We’re home by 10pm and it’s time to go on one last quick walk around the block with Alfred. I then pack my bag and lay out my PE kit for tomorrow morning’s workout.
I end my day relaxing in the living room with Netflix series Black Mirror in the background while speaking with my colleagues on Slack before I hit the hay around 11pm.
Bentley Motors appoints Archant Dialogue to revamp customer magazine from 2018
Bentley Motors has announced an overhaul of its international customer publication Bentley Magazine, appointing content agency Archant Dialogue after a competitive tender in 2017. It confirms the brand’s commitment to using high-end printed assets as part of its communications suite, while also generating content for use across digital channels.
Bentley Magazine was first created in 2003 to inform and excite existing and prospective customers of the iconic motoring marque. It is distributed worldwide, with versions in English, German and Chinese. One of the goals of the tender was to explore the evolution of the magazine so it can engage both existing and prospective customers and represent the brand’s quality and aspirational values.
Published quarterly, Bentley Magazine contains news and in-depth coverage of the world-famous motor car range, as well as associated content that reflects the interests of its high net worth audience.
Dialogue proved to be the ideal partner to move the magazine forward with a luxury portfolio that already includes brands such as Royal Ascot, Harley-Davidson, Porsche Club GB and the private jet specialists Air Charter Service, and the agency’s expertise in multilingual content production, international publishing and project management were all specific requirements of the procurement team at Bentley.
The contract includes management of all aspects of Bentley Magazine’s production, including concept ideation, story generation, commissioning, copy editing, competitions, design and photography, and working with Bentley’s in-house editorial team. Associated digital assets, including video, will also be created for use on the Bentley website and social media channels.
Dialogue is also introducing a new advertising model for Bentley Magazine which will excite brands that want to reach Bentley’s distinctive and affluent audience and be part of this new era for the publication.
Welcoming the appointment, Dialogue’s Agency Director Zoë Francis-Cox said. ”We are very excited to be working with Bentley Motors on this premium publication, and especially so since the competition for the contract was so strong. Dialogue is a recognised leader in content that appeals to luxury communities and it is clear that Bentley Motors shares our belief that aspirational and visually arresting content is a key component in customer engagement, delivering retention, advocacy and converting new buyers.”
Dialogue’s Executive Director Craig Nayman added: “We are delighted to have been selected as content partners by such an iconic brand as Bentley, especially as it heads towards its 100th anniversary in 2019. Dialogue’s parent company Archant is similarly steeped in heritage, with more than 170 years’ of driving community experiences in its own right, and we look forward to working with Bentley Motors to develop and enrich its unique, international and highly discerning brand community.”
You can download Dialogue’s latest research-driven customer communities report: The Benefits of Brand Communities free of charge, here.
Is it time to look again at your Facebook strategy?
At first it seemed like some odd kind of experiment. Stung by accusations that its algorithm had been manipulated by political groups and countries to influence elections Facebook began to make plans. In late 2017 it chose to alter people’s news feeds so that they favoured family and friends’ stories over everything else. Though bizarrely it only chose to implement this in a seemingly random list of six countries.
Fairly quickly reports came in from Slovakia, Bolivia and Guatemala and other places that brands and media companies were seeing a serious drop in the traffic they were receiving from Facebook. Surely, many companies thought, Facebook wouldn’t roll this out globally?
Nevertheless on January 11th in a post on Facebook’s blog Mark Zuckerberg wrote “I’m changing the goal I give our product teams from focusing on helping you find relevant content to helping you have more meaningful social interactions. The first changes you’ll see will be in News Feed, where you can expect to see more from your friends, family and groups As we roll this out, you’ll see less public content like posts from businesses, brands, and media.”
The driver for this change is to get people to spend more time on Facebook engaging with the posts they see. There is an argument that as the news feed has become a parade of messages from brands, publishers and more, so users spend more time passively browsing. The key word for the new Facebook news feed then is engagement and it sounds as if the platform is doing its utmost to ensure that users comment and like the posts they see.
Options for brands
So where does this leave brands and publishers who may have ploughed significant amounts of money, time and human resources in Facebook over the years? There are a number of options. The first is to simply deprioritise the platform. This has been going on organically for a while as Facebook has for many years become a pay to play platform. In other words the money invested in it yields better paid for and organic results. The net result is that brands have looked elsewhere to reach audiences – through their own sites and platforms and other social media too. Instagram, which boasts very high levels of engagement per post, (though there are issues here about how deep that engagement is) is a very popular option.
If this isn’t an option as a brand has invested heavily and wants to maintain a vibrant community then the answer is clearly to keep investing. Spending money on ads will at least ensure outreach on the platform for the foreseeable future, although some pundits are already warning that the price of those adverts is set to rise.
It doesn’t necessarily have to be either or though. One option is to optimise the output to reflect the changes that Facebook is making to the algorithm. This means focusing on creating content that receives likes and comments. As Mark Zuckerberg said “Pages making posts that people generally don’t react to or comment on could see the biggest decreases in distribution. Pages whose posts prompt conversations between friends will see less of an effect.”
So this would entail asking questions, being provocative and more. However it is worth adding that being too clickbaity might see brands penalised too – there is a fine balance to be struck.
Videos and groups
Focusing on video is another option. Facebook is still hugely keen on increasing the amount of video content. Video generally gets higher engagement than words and images and it benefits from autoplay which Facebook introduced last year. In fact there is a very strong argument that brands should focus on live video content as this generally gets the highest amount of engamengemt.
Finally another option is to invest in groups. It is easy for brands to set up groups that cater for their most enthusiastic followers and these tend to do very well in terms of engagement. Now could be a good time to consider this as an option.
Ultimately what the changes will bring is a new emphasis on engagement. In some ways it could be good news for brands. They may end up posting less and focusing more on higher quality, better thought out posts. Facebook isn’t going anywhere and it is likely to be an important platform for brands for many years to come. If you haven’t looked at your Facebook strategy recently now would seem to be a very good time to do it.
Ashley Norris, Consultant Editor, The CMA
Why CES 2018 will be remembered for all the wrong reasons
It seems likely that the 2018 CES, held in Las Vegas, will go down in history for all the wrong reasons. Rather than innovative products or key breakthroughs it is likely to be recalled as the CES where the electronics went down. Yes, for several hours on the Tuesday large areas of the main conference hall were without power meaning that it was impossible for exhibitors to display their products.
To make matters worse the conference might also be remembered as the one in which delegates had to wade through huge very un-Vegas like puddles after 48 hours worth of torrential rain soaked the city. And Vegas is of course in the desert…
And as for the products CES 2018 was what many pundits would say was a transitional show. There were few big announcements, but plenty of emerging tech. And in many instances the products on display were early prototypes which won’t be seen for a few years yet.
What excited most delegates was the ubiquity of autonomous, or driverless cars. Pretty much every big manufacturer from Ford through to Mercedes Benz sported prototypes or made announcements.
Even more excitingly car sharing company Lyft were offering rides in a driverless car up and down the Strip. Needless to say the offer was massively over subscribed.
From a marketing perspective driverless cars represent a huge opportunity. If people aren’t focusing on driving what are they going to do while in the car? If you want a glimpse of what the dashboard of the future might look like this prototype from Harman may offer a few clues
Another big trend was the emergence of voice activation and control on many new products. Among those I saw was a voice controlled pair of smart glasses from Vuzix which will be hugely pricey, but could be a real game changer. Interestingly it was Amazon’s Alexa and Google’s Assistant which dominated the show with Microsoft’s Cortana and Apple’s Siri nowhere to be seen. Though Samsung did unveil a variety of products with its Bixby voice control systems built in such as a TV and a smart refrigerator.
The growth of voice controlled smart speakers poses many interesting questions for marketers. On one level it could mean a recalibration of traditional search with smart speakers only offering limited answers as opposed to the many pages people currently see when searching online. It is also likely to ignite demand for more audio content, and especially more podcasts.
Robots and VR
You could not travel far in CES without being accosted by a robot or two. To be fair most were not especially useful and at early stages of development, there’s a list here, but the one that seemed to generate the most interest was the revamped version of Sony’s dog the Aibo, which was last seen in 2006.
If the tail end of 2017 has been all about Augmented Reality, CES 2018 saw Virtual Reality strike back a little with two new high-profile products. The Vive Pro is an upgrade of HTC’s PC VR headset, while the Lenovo Mirage is the first Google Daydream mobile VR device that doesn’t require a phone.
Possibly the most interesting part of the show though was Eureka Park which houses startups from across the globe. Here passionate entrepreneurs pitched their products, spoke optimistically about crowdfunding campaigns and generally injected CES with an energy that was lacking in some of the bigger halls. Among the many products that caught our eye was a revamped version of the drone Zano, 3G connected fitness headphones from Vinci and a smart ring from Orii.
Ashley Norris, Consultant Editor, The CMA
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