The Consumer Electronics Show — commonly referred to as CES — was a sight to see. For a first-timer like myself, it was a bit overwhelming. For the 50th anniversary of the show, nearly 200,000 visitors descended upon Las Vegas to take in the sights and sounds of everything tech. CES covered nearly 2.47 million net square feet of space and spans the entire city.

I noticed five key themes that kept up popping up throughout the show:

Voice (Controls)

Voice and voice control is taking over the way we live in ways we can’t even imagine. Many folks are familiar with Amazon Alexa – an intelligent personal assistant that can set up calendar appointments, play music, provide weather and more. Various reports estimated that there were 700–1,100 Alexa-controllable products at the show. Product were either being controlled by Alexa or they were creating Alexa like products.

Lots of products are moving to voice-activation – including this voice-activated garbage can from Simple Human. For a mere $180, your garbage can will respond to the command: “open sesame.”

The reason so many products are now voice activated is that Microsoft created software that recognizes speech on the same level as humans. Voice recognition has scaled in leaps in bounds over the last few years alone.

Artificial Intelligence

AI is another hot topic and coincides with voice recognition. There have been significant advancements in technology; previously, a computer was able to take in information, understand it and provide an answer. If you asked, “What steak restaurant do you recommend locally?” the computer could provide you with a list of steak restaurants nearby. Presently, the systems are smart enough to point out specifics, like the fact that Morton’s is the best rated restaurant, it’s only 3.5 miles away, you can make a reservation at 7:00 and they recommend you have the filet instead of the strip steak based upon reviews. AI is truly allowing computers to act as humans in these scenarios.

Internet of Things (IoT)

Experts estimate that by 2020, IoT will consist of 50 Billion objects. IoT commonly comes in the form of connected devices or smart devices. Sensors are collecting hundreds of points of data to make “smart” decisions. At CES, I saw companies like Whirlpool monitoring and adjusting the temperature of a refrigerator, making sure the strawberries didn’t spoil. In addition, wearable companies are measuring every step you take, every change in blood pressure, and providing recommendations as to what exercises to do and what specific foods to eat. Companies are using these sensors to collect every single point of data.


Data is ubiquitous and everywhere. It is growing exponentially and all these new devices are collecting millions upon millions of data points every second. Every day, we create 2.5 quintillion bytes of data — so much so that 90 percent of the data in the world today has been created in the last two years alone. Much of the tech created (and being worked on) requires sifting through massive amounts of data. It will be our job to process and understand the data.

Virtual Reality / Augmented Reality

You couldn’t go more than 100 ft. at CES without seeing someone wearing crazy headsets. These VR headsets allow you to immerse yourself in any environment. They give users a full 360 degree view. The headsets can make you feel like you are riding a roller coaster or swimming underwater with a school of fish. Augmented reality is the blending of virtual reality with real life. Virtual reality is more prevalent in gaming, however there are more avenues being created, like journalism. Instead of writing about a battle in Iraq, how about creating an immersive environment where it feels like you are part of the battle – feeling and understanding what it takes to survive.

I also noticed the insane amount of marketing and advertising that is committed to the show. Brands spend countless dollars and resources to market their products and make their presence known. Panasonic, the 100-year Japanese organization, had a nearly 17,000 sq. ft. booth broken down into three zones. Behemoths like Samsung, Sony and Intel also had equally impressive booths with hundreds of folks explaining and talking about their products. Auto manufacturers were showcasing their latest, fastest and smartest cars. Overall, CES is a marketer’s dream.

In lock-step with the brands are the agencies that represent them. They’re trying to understand all the latest technology offerings as well as what each of their competitors is doing. They need to be fully immersed in how to best market these products. Beyond tech – there is an abundance of digital media folks that fully represent the numerous participants of the LUMAscape ecosystem.

All the major themes discussed above are important because they dovetail within the marketing and advertising industries. For Intermarkets, CES was a chance to understand what brands and marketers are doing and how we as an organization can facilitate the conversation further. In addition to checking out some of the futuristic gadgets, we were endlessly networking and meeting with many of our current partners including OpenX, Index Exchange, Rubicon, Inform, Outbrain, Criteo, Cadreon, Google, Facebook and more.

‘til 2018…