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CES Takeaways: AI, Retail Media & Streaming TV Top the Advertising Agenda at CES 2024

5 MINUTE READ | January 16, 2024

CES Takeaways: AI, Retail Media & Streaming TV Top the Advertising Agenda at CES 2024

CES Takeaways: AI, Retail Media & Streaming TV Top the Advertising Agenda at CES 2024

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Abby Long

Abby is PMG’s senior managing editor, where she leads the company’s editorial program and manages the PMG Blog and Insights Hub. As a writer, editor, and marketing communications strategist with nearly a decade of experience, Abby's work in showcasing PMG’s unique expertise through POVs, research reports, and thought leadership regularly informs business strategy and media investments for some of the most iconic brands in the world. Named among the AAF Dallas 32 Under 32, her expertise in advertising, media strategy, and consumer trends has been featured in Ad Age, Business Insider, and Digiday.

While it's no surprise that artificial intelligence (AI) was the talk of the town at this year's CES, it was far from the only topic to steal the show in Las Vegas this week. Innovation expanded across services, software, and products, with retail media and streaming among some of the most popular topics of conversation for advertisers.

More than 130k people attended CES 2024 alongside more than 4,000 exhibitors in and around the Las Vegas Convention Center. The main theme for CES 2024 centered around "human security for all" in alignment with the United Nations' key pillars for the betterment of mankind, as CES aimed to showcase the innovations that are driving progress against the newest and eighth pillar: access to technology.

AI was omnipresent at CES this year, with‌ countless sessions dedicated to the topic and nearly every keynote speaker and product showcase touching on the power and uncertainty surrounding AI and the newest machine learning capabilities driving transformation across everything from automotive and manufacturing to healthcare, robotics, and smart home technology.

Big Tech companies took unique approaches to their respective activations at CES this year. Google and Amazon had an outsized presence throughout the week, while Meta and Microsoft scaled back their roles at the conference and opted instead to focus on client meetings with brand partners and agencies.

Notably absent from CES this year were AI-focused organizations and industry leaders Anthropic, Midjourney, and OpenAI, though they were frequent topics of conversation among attendees and speakers. In their place, leading brands like John Deere, LG, Caterpillar, BMW, and Samsung showcased advancements in mobility, sustainability, and personalized convenience.

Related: OpenAI launches the GPT Store to help users find the most popular custom versions of ChatGPT.

Conversations about AI innovation in advertising were often followed by a nuanced discussion around AI ethics and the importance of consumer privacy and data security in any tech integrations or data partnerships to come. Separate from the hype surrounding AI are critical questions regarding its "far-reaching implications for humankind," as recently outlined by Forrester analyst Dipanjan Chatterjee in Digiday. Dozens of government officials from the U.S. and abroad took part in several AI policy discussions throughout the week, including a bi-partisan panel on shaping emerging tech policy and AI governance.

In retail technology, Walmart made its mark on the CES experience by hosting a two-story, 10,000-square-foot booth, the retailer's largest-ever CES appearance. The activation showcased how innovations in logistics and sales intelligence, virtual reality, and generative AI are reshaping traditional retail and the entire shopping experience. In his keynote, Walmart CEO Doug McMillon discussed the company's advancements in drone technology, shopping, and delivery, along with Walmart Connect, its expansive retail media network.

Albertsons, Kroger, Best Buy, and Amazon maintained a competitive presence at CES as well, leading client meetings and announcing new data partnerships, integrations, and ad tech offerings. Albertsons' retail media network, Albertsons Media Collective, announced a new AI-powered strategic partnership and platform for managing retail media campaigns. Instacart will expand in-store advertising opportunities via smart shopping carts and inked a new off-platform partnership with Google that leverages Instacart’s retail media data to power Google Shopping Ads for Instacart advertising partners.

With Google's third-party cookie deprecation on the horizon, retail media has emerged as a powerful force multiplier for brands looking to make their data more actionable and engage with consumers in new ways. With retail media spending predicted to reach $109 billion by 2027, according to Insider Intelligence, the prominence of retail media networks at this year's CES is just the beginning, as we can expect to see more joint commerce partnerships emerge in the future.

Streaming platforms and the Connected TV (CTV) marketing ecosystem dominated this year's C Space at CES as entertainment companies compete for advertising dollars amid continued cord-cutting and media fragmentation. With more streaming services prioritizing ad-supported subscription tiers, Insider Intelligence estimates that over two-thirds of viewership across popular platforms, including Peacock, Paramount+, and Hulu, will be ad-supported by next year. Netflix and Disney+ are expected to grow their ad-supported subscription viewership the most, with 69.7% and 45.1% increases, respectively.

Netflix touted its largest CES presence to date with an interactive experience for its upcoming sci-fi drama series 3 Body Problem, while Netflix Advertising President Amy Reinhard discussed advanced analytics and media monetization alongside her peers at NBCUniversal, Disney, and Warner Bros. Discovery at the CES Variety Entertainment Summit. Reinhard disclosed that the Netflix ad tier now boasts more than 23 million monthly active subscribers, signaling strong engagement trends by viewers with ad messaging on the platform. 

Just in time for the launch of the Amazon Prime Video ad tier later this month, Amazon Ads was on the show floor with its Connections Hub activation. Several Amazon executives, including Amazon Ads Global Director of Brand Marketing Carly Zipp, participated in insightful on-stage discussions about the evolution of creativity and storytelling.

For the first time ever, Disney capitalized on the buzz of CES by hosting its annual Tech and Data Showcase in Las Vegas, where Disney executives unveiled the newest ad features and tech developments. Most notably, Disney announced Gateway Shop, a new shoppable ad format coming soon to Hulu (and eventually Disney+) that enhances viewer engagement by leaning into multi-screen viewing habits. Served via mid-roll ad breaks, Gateway Shop ads will show a 15- or 30-second spot that's framed by additional information and messaging for the products displayed in the video.

The format includes options for product carousels, pricing information, and checkout QR codes. In the year ahead, Disney will also expand its cleanroom technology, introduce new measurement partners, and grow its audience segments to better encompass the Disney fandom while evolving its retail media integrations and self-service advertising platform.

Disney executives also covered a variety of related topics on stage throughout the week, including one panel with Disney Executive Vice President of Category Sales and Client Solutions Lisa Valentino on how streaming is driving record engagement. With 77% of families watching shows, sports, and live programming together, according to Disney research, streaming TV services have unlocked greater choice for viewers while fostering more shared experiences.

NBCUniversal took a similar approach by taking the stage at CES to announce One Platform Total Audience, building off the company's One Platform tool with new cross-platform, AI-driven planning and activation technology. To power better reach and program-level transparency, the tool uses machine learning and predictive analysis to produce media plans across linear and streaming platforms, leveraging NBCUniversal's first-party data along with advertisers' data sets.

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Led by advancements in AI and machine learning, CES 2024 offered the best of what the global technology community has to offer, demonstrating how innovation and technological breakthroughs are transforming the world around us. As the new year gets underway, CES delivered fresh inspiration and new perspectives on how advertisers play a role in shaping the future of the consumer experience across commerce, entertainment, and brand experiences.

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