Jeremy Katz
Consumer Electronics Show Recap – Day 1

Mind the Gaps

Surprise!  There’s a massive gap between consumer behavior and the actions of brands and advertisers.  Our mobiles are positively stapled to our foreheads at every moment, and yet they only account for 5% of advertising spend. But we’re not the only deluded ones. Consumers may claim to ignore mobile advertising, but Deloitte found that 30% of them have acted on an ad in the past year.  It would seem there are some gaps in how we understand mobile—as an industry and as individuals. We need to define it, or, as Audi would have us do, redefine mobility. They brought out a bunch of laser dancers and cool cars and sotto voce asked us to think of them as a technology company as much as a car company. That’s quite a challenge, given the gap between auto engineering design lifecycles and tech industry standards. The former is 7 years.  The latter is 7 minutes. But they brought their new partners—AT&T and Nvidia—on stage to make clear that it could be done. Tech iteration comes to automotive! The auto is the most complex, most expensive, and most impressive piece of consumer electronics that any of us owns. Shouldn’t it be the most connected as well?

Open and shut case

In a supposedly open world, we’re subject to the whims of Google and Apple. In the mobile world, they control access to the app ecosystem. Is it appropriate to put so much power in their hands?  One of them claims not to be evil. The other riffed on 1984 in the most famous ad of all time.  Maybe we need to remind them of that. Plus, how does your content become scalable when you are tied into a single ecosystem? We can’t compete with them in the content of the apps we create, and we can’t break free of them when all of our consumer electronics are in their world. It’s a beautiful, sparkly jail.

Data mitosis

Self-replication is the norm for any data. Snap a photo and it can be copied and pasted a billion times. Each of those is another cell of data. As a marketer you’ve got to be on guard for data cancer—the moment when the consumer sees the data that you’ve built up about them to be a threat to their being rather than a benefit to their life. Build up your brand’s data immune system. Let the data self-replicate naturally, unencumbered. When we all play together—when the data streams from the sensors multiplying around us merge—the system will become self-regulating. When data converges, it becomes a product in an ordered marketplace. Keep it walled off, and the consumer will perceive you as a creepy predator, and your knowledge of them will be seen as an noxious invader. Dude, don’t beHAL.

The New 80/20 Rule

Just because we can act in real time doesn’t mean we should. Our goal ought to be the delivery of content that feel relevant the moment it is consumed. The challenge isn’t reacting fast; it’s figuring out what the hell to say. That’s why Anne-Marie Klein proposed a new 80/20 rule. (Ok, she didn’t call it that.) Spend 20% of your time reacting to the marketplace and 80% of your time planning so that you have material that sounds right in-the-moment. Here’s a little heresy to confront: maybe a few of those media dollars—say 20%?—need to go into that content planning and creation. We don’t think of content as working media, but maybe working media isn’t really punching with the same force it once did. Good content works for you, travels, and has a higher referral value.

From brand persona to brand person

It’s not what your brand stands for anymore. It’s how your brand stands. Hands on hips? Canted on to one leg? Those characteristics are part of how humans recognize each other. We communicate not just with the content of our conversation but also with our gesture and tone. These are parts of basic human nature. We used to look at brands as ancient heroic archetypes—the quester, the hero, the mentor, the trickster, the shape-shifter—but technology enables us…no, requires us…to turn turn them into fully fledged real people. What is your brands gesture and voice? What is its speaking style?  What is its character?  These are no longer metaphors.  These are descriptions of entity you want to be and the tactile form the consumer aspects you to inhabit. Maybe we’re wrong. Ask Siri what she thinks.

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