Takeaways From ‘The Other CES 2020’ That Location-Minded Marketers Need to Know

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The global technology industry stumbled bleary-eyed into a new decade in Las Vegas last week. The hangover was less about the festive season that had just drawn to a close and more about a tough 2019 for every aspect of the technology economy. Increased scrutiny from global regulators, oscillating public opinion on the value of technology, penetrating exposés of corporate malfeasance, and more turned 2019 into a series of tougher-than-usual narratives for the business world.

In the faintly smoky, neon-lit, carpeted halls of the Aria, Wynn, and other hotels up and down the Strip, the other CES continued unabated. Alongside the massive announcements of the hardware and software companies camped out in the Las Vegas Convention Center, hundreds of companies shuffled between repurposed suites, closing deals and ensuring they were ready for 2020.

Most significantly, the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) launched only five days before the start of CES, and while this was not the focus of many conversations, nearly everyone mentioned it in passing. Most of us have dealt with the GDPR implementation in Europe over the last 18 months, and in comparison, this is easier to manage with similar benefits to consumers. Similar to GDPR, however, CCPA creates an inherent disadvantage for smaller technology companies relative to large incumbents, which can easily afford the operational overhead of supporting the CCPA as well as operate in grey areas with more risk to their business. Up and down the advertising supply chain, we all want to understand that the right things are being done, and we can continue to operate our growing businesses with as little disruption as possible.

So welcome, CCPA. You’re joining an increasingly global fraternity of regulations that will protect consumers and make our industry better.

CES provided a unique showcase for the importance of connected TV (CTV); it’s one of the few events that wrangles hardware, media, and advertising companies into the same place for a week. Within digital advertising, this topic is number one, and not outlining your strategy to support CTV in 2020 was a way to cut any CES meeting short. Companies that have moved from video to TV, such as Amobee or Telaria/Rubicon, exciting new combinations of TV and digital assets such as Xandr; programmatic TV leaders like The Trade Desk; and companies that have been long on TV for years such as Samba TV should have a fantastic 2020 ahead of them.

And the prominence of CTV continues to highlight the unabated change across the advertising economy. Perhaps no one captured this subject as well as Sir Martin Sorrel of S4 Capital, whose keynote sent the usual ripples across the industry. He continued to opine on the future of the agency model and why he believes that an agency model that’s data-driven, nimble, and customer-centric will be the long-term winner for the next decade.

More than ever, marketers need to accelerate their use of first-party and third-party data to make faster decisions on how to allocate advertising investment. Some of the largest media buyers are unsurprisingly also some of the largest global buyers of digital advertising, and their sophistication in the collection and activation of data is unparalleled. Programmatic buying is the oxygen to the fire that is their data, and the flexibility of programmatic buying is accelerating their investment.

The last decade of growth in programmatic is reaching an endpoint of near ubiquity, and this reality is now sending the debate back to creativity. While the industry has been touting the “right ad to the right person at the right time” — and with the latter two areas solved — the emphasis in 2020 will be more compelling messages. The combination of data and creativity will be one of the most exciting changes to affect advertising for the next decade, and the data partners — whether location, transaction, automotive or something else — have a critical role to play in this equation.

If CES 2020 proved one thing, it’s that the only certainty is that nothing is certain. Sony launched a car, Toyota launched a city, and the pace of innovation on display in Las Vegas reached a higher level than ever. Innovation and change create opportunity, and with 2019 behind us, the industry will settle into the new decade older and wiser than before.

Rob Jonas is chief revenue officer at Factual.