Dispatch from CES: Giant TVs, Obsequious Gadgets, and Artificial People

I’m fresh from a couple of days wandering the halls of the Consumer Electronics Show, affectionately known as CES — the annual conference that descends upon Las Vegas in January and proffers the latest in technological solutions to improve every aspect of our daily lives. This is my first time attending the world’s biggest technology conference, where 4,500 companies this year are vying for the attention of 180,000 attendees, according to my Uber driver.

As I made my way through the crowds at the massive Las Vegas Convention Center and other conference venues, I tried to get a sense of the common themes defining consumer innovation as we begin a new decade. 

Gimbal App Gives Consumers More Choice, Privacy Controls

While the digital marketing industry waits for full enforcement of California’s Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) to go into effect later this year, the mobile advertising, location solutions, and data company Gimbal is actively working to position itself as a leader in the consumer privacy space. The company recently launched a mobile app called LocationChoices, which gives consumers more control over how their data is used. Gimbal is also building a coalition with other industry players that would give participating vendors a way to systematically honor the requests of individual consumer opt-outs.

LBMA Presents Location Weekly: Predictions for 2020

Curious about the future? 2020 will be more dynamic for the location industry than the past year.

This week on the Location-Based Marketing Association podcast, we are talking about our expectations and predictions for location-based marketing.

Leveraging Consumer Data in the Privacy Era

Industry executives are working overtime to help their clients maintain their current marketing practices without running afoul of the latest privacy regulations. Over at Tealium, a firm that specializes in customer data management and protection, Co-Founder and Chief Technology Officer Mike Anderson is encouraging clients to focus on the customer experience of consent while clearly articulating why they need consumers’ data.

“You can’t build customer profiles if the data isn’t there,” Anderson says. “There’s a level of education needed at the point of consent to show the consumer what value they will get in return when they opt-in.”

Making Human Connections in the Age of Automation

The end of the decade marks a challenging time for marketers as they attempt to envision the next 10 years. At the turn of the 2010s, no one could have envisioned the advanced AI-powered marketing and campaign automation tools that are available today. 

Despite access to smart technology, modern marketers still must balance multiple factors to create business value for all stakeholders, including eliminating boring, ineffective ads, grappling with the automation myth, embracing the data privacy age, and maintaining ethical AI practices. 

Brave CEO Brendan Eich on a Privacy-by-Default Future for Digital Advertising

In light of last week’s enactment of the California Consumer Privacy Act and our monthly theme, Pursuing Privacy, Street Fight posed questions on surveillance capitalism, privacy, Big Tech, and the future of digital advertising to Brendan Eich, CEO of Brave, one of the leading companies championing privacy-first solutions in the tech industry.

“The entire industry is in need of a fundamental shift from tracking to privacy by default and by design,” Eich said. “To truly preserve consumer privacy, Big Tech needs to switch to a privacy-by-default approach. Nothing will change otherwise. Until then, consumers will remain confused about where their data is being used, and tracking and data monetization will remain pervasive on the web.”

How Much Consumers Value Transparent Privacy Practices

Potential legal troubles and CCPA’s enforceability weaknesses aside, the Tealium study suggests a strong record on privacy will be a boon to brands as privacy increasingly takes center stage in the public consciousness. Ninety-seven percent of consumers said they are at least somewhat concerned about data privacy, and 85% said they won’t forgive a company’s misuse of their data.

The California Consumer Privacy Act’s Promise and Limitations

At first glance, the California Consumer Privacy Act marks a major achievement for privacy advocates, the first statewide bill in the US to offer consumers control over how companies handle their personal information. It’s all the more significant that CCPA happened in California, a frequent bellwether for federal legislation and the state where many of the world’s top tech companies are headquartered.

It’s not entirely clear, though, that CCPA will put significant fetters on Silicon Valley’s hitherto unrestrained collection and monetization of user data. Major weaknesses include the law’s enforcement protocol, continued lobbying efforts to defang it, and its opt-out structure.

This Year, Brands Will Seek Out Incrementality

As networks, publishers, and agencies continue to shift to guarantee business outcomes in ad deals (a trend that began earlier in 2019), the concept of “incrementality” will emerge as a key issue for marketers in 2020.

Advertisers today have an incredibly difficult time distinguishing between those exposed to ads who were already going to visit the store (the natural effect, driven by intent and brand identity) vs. those who visited because of that exposure (the incremental effect, driven by ad sensitivity). Quite understandably, we want to know if our advertising campaigns actually work in changing consumer behavior in our favor.

The Marketing Landscape will Transform in 2020. Are You Ready?

Data privacy laws such as CCPA and GDPR are inevitably going to reshape the practice of marketing. In response, we will need to create new avenues to extract value from omnichannel data sources. We will have to use data in more creative ways for personalization that is sensitive to regulations and consumer demands.

We will refocus on optimizing new channels in the customer journey. Permission-based marketing, cognitive uplift, and transparency will be the buzzwords of the year. In some ways, the marketing industry might look fundamentally different this month than it did only weeks ago.

Here are my top predictions for the ways marketing will transform in 2020.

Tech Vendors See Opportunity in CCPA Compliance

The California Consumer Privacy Act has just recently gone into effect, and full enforcement won’t begin for another six months, but companies are already making big changes as they endeavor to ensure compliance.

Under the new CCPA regulations, companies are required to notify users of the intent to monetize their data and provide users with the ability to easily opt out of data monetization. Many companies are struggling to come into compliance, but for businesses that work with multiple technology vendors, the issue is creating even more headaches.

Where to Go from Here: The Outlook for Programmatic Advertising in 2020

eMarketer recently estimated that U.S. advertisers spent nearly $60 billion on programmatic display in 2019, and over the next two years, continued investment in areas like connected TV and OTT will drive programmatic ad spending to $80 billion.

As the ad industry launches into 2020, the ever-evolving programmatic landscape will introduce a fresh set of opportunities and challenges that will shape strategy in the new year. Here’s what to expect. 

January Focus: Pursuing Privacy

As we straddle the precipice of a new year and a new decade, the next milestone in privacy legislation looms: the California Consumer Privacy Act. As California’s version of GDPR, it is the first major US privacy legislation. It will set a precedent and kick-start a domino effect for other states and may even lead to federal data privacy moves.

“Pursuing privacy” will be Street Fight’s editorial focus for the month of January. You may have noticed our monthly themes: December focused on the connected consumer, November’s focused on holiday shopping, October on local commerce verticals, and September on mapping (more on those in a bit).

Retailers Find New Marketing Opportunities with Wearables

A recent announcement that Amazon, Apple, Google, and the Zigbee Alliance are working on an open-source network standard is likely to lead to even more investment in connected devices among retailers. The open-source network that the group is working to develop is supposed to make life easier for IoT hardware vendors and software developers, but it also serves a secondary purpose of assuring retailers investing in connected technology that their budgets aren’t being wasted. With a common IoT communication and control standard, smart devices will be even more reliable and seamless to use in the coming years.

“Open source will bring businesses more agility and enable them to process data quickly while simultaneously producing valuable insights,” says Heikki Nousiainen, chief technology officer at Aiven, a firm that develops managed cloud service hosting for software infrastructure services.

Companies Are Struggling to Manage IoT Data. Here’s Why

The devices around us are getting smarter. From the consumer’s perspective, that means refrigerators are sending notifications when the milk is running low, and thermostats are turning down the temperature when there’s no movement in the house. Businesses are relying on the data generated by connected devices to improve algorithms and make their existing products even smarter, but collecting and managing large volumes of data is creating a new set of challenges.

Globally, the IoT market is expected to reach $212 billion by the end of this year. With the worldwide number of IoT-connected devices projected to top 43 billion by 2023, the challenges associated with managing large amounts of data in real-time are growing at a rapid pace.

6 Ways Wearable Tech Is Reshaping Retail

Rather than being spooked by these new retail engagement strategies, surveys show most consumers are excited by them. Sixty-seven percent of wearables owners say they find dynamic user experiences that vary based on location “useful and exciting.”

Here are six examples of strategies that retailers can employ to improve the shopping experience using wearable technology.

Follow the Money: Will Wearables Inflect in 2020?

Apple is far ahead with Watch and Airpods, which may have sold 3 million units since Black Friday. Google meanwhile acquired Fitbit to buttress its wearables play. Amazon and Microsoft launched wearables lines in the past quarter, and smaller players like Bose and Snap are planting seeds for a wearables future.

There’s an underlying driver for this activity that goes back to the perennial analyst exercise of “following the money.” This is all about extrapolating product roadmaps based on tech giants’ motivations. This is often to future-proof their core businesses or diversify revenue in the face of maturing products.

Connected Consumers Are More Demanding Than Ever – How Retailers Are Adapting

As the omnichannel approach to retail takes off, industry insiders are beginning to wonder whether giving shoppers what they want, when they want it, across any connected device, is causing consumers to develop unrealistic expectations about the types of experiences and services their favorite stores can provide.

How 5 Brands Are Marketing with Smart Home Technology

Because marketing through the connected home is still in its infancy, most brands are in the experimental phase. Even though there are plenty of opportunities for connecting with consumers through smart appliances and devices, brands have to be careful in their approach to avoid overstepping boundaries or coming off as “creepy.” Regardless, the sheer volume of connected products hitting the market ensures that brands have an unprecedented number of new avenues to reach people inside their own homes.

Here are five innovative connected home marketing strategies being pioneered by brands and retail marketers.

It’s Neural Matching: Google Explains the November Ranking Shakeup

A tweet on Monday from Google search liaison Danny Sullivan provides an explanation for the rankings shakeup that has perplexed the local search community since the beginning of November. Google began using neural matching to generate local search results.

Local search has just undertaken a huge evolutionary step. No longer are local results being matched to user queries solely on the basis of identifiable ranking factors, such as proximity to searcher, keywords in business names, primary category of the listing, review count, and so on. That isn’t to say such factors are now unimportant, but they have been augmented by a broader and more general sense of relevance delivered by neural matching.