5 Takeaways from CES 2015

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The biggest trade show of the year is over, and it was the largest CES ever with more than 170,000 attendees and over 2.2 million square feet of exhibit space featuring more than 3,600 exhibitors. Big booths showed off bigger televisions. Wearables and smart “everything” were common denominators across most conversations—and drones and Oculus dominated. Here are five overall show takeaways, from our team to yours:


Technology: New Event Tech Toolkit. How else could we start an article on CES? While we’ve seen the event marketing tech toolkit get updated over the last few years, now we’re seeing an entirely new toolbox forming—with Oculus, biometrics and location detection leading the way. It’s looking like events in 2015 will be getting major tech support as existing technologies such as RFID and BLE are joined by new and up-and-coming tech devices such as content mirrors, witricity and, of course, the drones.


Exhibit Design and Layout: The Product-Ratio Debate. The good news? There will be more consumer electronics launches in 2015 than in any previous year. The bad news? As a result, CES booths were packed with more merchandise than ever, resparking the debate over how much product is just too much product. To spend millions on an experience that ends up being cluttered by endless displays of smartwatches, intelligent dishwashers and 4K OLED monitors can work against your brand’s vision for engaging and connecting with attendees. Even smart marketers were struggling to find the right balance between product display and experience design this year. And while some CES exhibits had that balance—others certainly did not.


The CES 2015 Structure: Keep an Eye on the Sands. What was once mere overflow space for low-budget exhibitors and start-ups has become the place to be. By noon on day one, the Sands exhibit hall was already being compared to South by Southwest. Zones themed around such categories as smartwatches, the connected home and fitness technology featured newbie exhibitors and established brands such as Under Armour and Lowe’s. It should be interesting to watch how CEA manages the additional spaces over the next few years in an effort to maintain a cohesive experience where the venues work together—not against each other.


Alternative Events: ‘Off-the-Show-Floor’ Growth. From Google to Facebook to HP and many others, a still-growing number of tech companies continue to eschew booths and instead are opting to create their own brand experiences, meeting spaces and demo zones elsewhere in Las Vegas. Microsoft turned 60 meeting rooms at the Venetian into the Microsoft Experience Center, an executive briefing-style area boasting space for some 700-plus scheduled meetings and a central demo lounge featuring more than a dozen of its product groups showing off individual offerings (but under a centralized “One Microsoft” theme).


Influencers: The Auto Effect. CES activations by car brands were up 20 percent this year, according to CEA. That increased auto invasion brings two benefits to CES. One, it’s helping to broaden the show into a fully “lifestyle electronics” event. And two, traditional consumer electronics brands are learning from the world’s best event marketers how to really create an experience at CES 2015. Not only did Ford, Audi and BMW bring some of the best experiences to the show—featuring by far the most interactive footprints found at the show—but their presence will influence how next year’s exhibitors design and activate the cement they rent at CES.


Following CES, it's safe to say that events in 2015 will not just be bigger but more cleverly designed. By transforming neglected spaces, bringing together companies from different industries, and focusing on brand experience over just products, this year's events will set a new precedence for experiential marketing.


Posted by Kristy Elisano | Request as a Speaker

Caffeine dependent Jersey girl. Northeast powder hound. Inspired by creative risk takers and underdogs. VP Marketing, Doodle owner and cocreator of my daughter.