Everything is e-commerce: Big takeaways from CES
Attracting positive consumer attention, with consent-driven data, puts creative at the forefront with only a razor-thin margin for error.
CES is not what it used to be.
What was once a showcase for buyers to fill shelves has been completely turned on its head. The event, which took place in Las Vegas for the past week, is now much more than a tradeshow. It’s an ode to today’s direct-to-consumer marketplace and technology providers, with the media and entertainment industry peppering in the advertising innovation to make it all go. The most glaring idea coming out of this year’s CES is that EVERYTHING is e-commerce.
There are exceptions, of course. But this shift has been going on for some time now, and industry moves in the last year have only hastened the idea that pretty much anything you can buy for $100 will be purchased online. The web isn’t reserved for specialty items anymore, either. Where physical stores could at least fight off the internet by owning CPG purchases, even those have gone increasingly digital.
With this major dynamic adjustment in mind, a few pervasive thoughts coming out of CES.
Amazon’s moving at breakneck speed
Amazon has long been the go-to place for e-commerce, but that impact was largely confined to its own walls. Not so anymore, especially with its purchase of Whole Foods, which gave it the physical retail foothold to deliver to millions quicker than ever before.
Owning a large grocery store chain – even a specialty one like Whole Foods – helps Amazon expand from just a goods company to a services company as well. Combined with the proliferation of virtual assistant technology like Alexa, Amazon’s become the at-your-fingertips economy, delivering everything from home goods and books to paper towels and everything you need to make dinner (or just deliver dinner instead).
Amazon’s making it even easier to choose it over competitors too, as evidenced by this comment from Downstream Founder and CEO Connor Folley:
“Consumers get to skip the part where they search through a long list of products, and instead are served up a curated collection that streamlines purchasing decisions. Combatting the phenomenon of choice overload, Amazon allows for genuine discovery and search, but all while using first-party purchase data and advertising to get there.”
Right time, right place
Though Amazon has put itself in front of consumers the most, that “right time, right place” idea they’ve championed has bled through to all other parts of commerce. The race to figure out not just what consumers are searching for now, but what they’re searching for next, is one that’s tapping into AI and data science while nailing down consumer intent.
Here’s what Michael Blend, president and co-founder of System1 had to say:
“Fighting shrinking attention spans, marketers must develop a greater understanding of human behaviors to get sales messages across to consumers. Adjusting advertising to be more predictive, and placed where and when consumers want it is how the best brands will unlock value in this next phase of growth for the digital economy.”
Guesswork, as you might assume, is dead. Impressions are a waste as brands need evidence of impact and some proof that audiences are paying attention to messages. (This move from impressions to evidence was a theme at CES with companies like iSpot delivering digital conversion measurement to TV). And with direct-to-consumer becoming a larger and larger piece of the e-commerce puzzle, there’s a familiarity and trust that must be built and continually solidified through actions. Part of that comes from a clear understanding of audiences and the ability to deliver the most relevant content wherever they are.
Smart creative is back in the driver’s seat
Understanding that consumers interact with messaging across many platforms is the mark of a brand already equipped for this e-commerce-dominant landscape, as is doing something with that information. Data is dominant force in advertising, but it’s best put to use when backing smart creative that delivers on grabbing valuable audience attention and engagement.
Daniel Meehan, founder and CEO of PadSquad shared his thoughts:
“Advertising has evolved to the point where you’re not prepared to meet digital platform demands unless there is creative mocked up for 100 or so possible variations. There is no one-size-fits-all solution for the different screens and consumers you’ll encounter across the web. Brands need to meet everyone with the experience that they want and need to have a positive interaction that leads to sales.”
This shift toward attracting positive consumer attention puts creative at the forefront but powered by (consent-driven) consumer data. It was always the way advertising was supposed to be, mind you. But with so much competition for e-commerce dollars, the margin for error is now razor-thin. Those with the best ability to convert engagement (not just get eyeballs) are going to be the brands seen as most valuable to consumers.