The next step in the digital revolution may be here, and the content marketing world better be ready.
While every year’s CES brings with it a flood of new TVs, gadgets with debatable practicality, and hyperbolic promises from every tech company imaginable, this year’s show may have revealed what many, including former WIRED editor and current senior editor at LinkedIn John C. Abell, believe to be a fundamental shift in the infrastructure of our digital world.
Much of the hype surrounds the movement towards a world where the Internet is everywhere and everything—on your wrist as a wearable smart watch, in your self-driving car, in your ceiling fan, and twisting the knife into the back of cable and traditional media in general.
Assuming the tech industry has its way (and, let’s face it, when does it not?), all of this is going to change the way we consume content. Suddenly, content won’t just be on your smartphone or on your laptop: It’s going to on your wrist, in your car, in your ceiling fan (okay, maybe not that one), and it’s going to be way, way faster.
So it follows, then, that content marketing is going to change with it. To understand the future of technology is the understand the future of content consumption and creation. And even if all of these tech trends turn into overblown hype… well, they’re still fun to think about. On that note, let’s take a look at the top three tech trends dominating the CES headlines.
The Internet of Things (IoT)
At the core of this push for an Internet-dominated, tech-driven world is the biggest, buzziest phrase to emerge from CES: the Internet of Things. Samsung has positioned itself as the vanguard, rallying the technology world to collaborate in the name of interconnectivity: “It is our job to pull together—as an industry, and across different sectors—to make true on the promise of the Internet of Things,” said CEO Boo-Keun Yoon at his keynote speech this past Monday.
But what exactly does IoT mean? In the most basic terms, it refers to the idea of a network of Internet-enabled devices that are in constant communication, sharing data to optimize our daily lives. Some examples: Your refrigerator sending notifications to your smartphone that you’re low on milk; your thermostat keeping track of your comings and goings to maximize energy efficiency; or even your toilet analyzing your excrement and sharing your vitals to help save on healthcare costs.
These all combine to create the overriding concept of a “smart home,” in which all your devices and gadgets work together in harmony to run the perfect house. Check out Qualcomm’s video demonstration for a visual reference of what our future smart homes may look like.
But it’s not just our homes that the IoT is going to affect: Cars also seem destined to radically change in our lifetime. New systems like ADAS (Advanced Driver Assistance), and even fully self-driving cars, such as the Audi A7 previously linked, will take advantage of the IoT to make driving safer, easier, and generally “smarter.”
Many car and tech companies are imagining a future where your smart home and your smart car are connected, with everything optimized for maximum comfort and maximum energy and financial efficiency.
But not everyone is sold on this Jetsonian vision of our future. Though the technology needed to implement it seems to be there, such as uber-cheap computer chips and powerful wifi, there are still many legitimate concerns surrounding the IoT.
Equally concerning is the amount of power the IoT places into tech companies’ already massive hands. The promise of the IoT is largely based on the gathering and implementation of personal data. Does the average consumer truly want Google to know every pattern of their lives—and use it for marketing purposes?
For content marketers, though, this amount of personal data could be a boon. The previously limited concept of personalization would suddenly be much more of a reality. Companies with access to this data will hold the keys to statistics almost every marketer, and businessperson in general, would love to get their hands on. They can also use this treasure trove of data to publish the kind of sharply optimized content that the marketing and tech world has been salivating over since the dawn of the Internet—not to mention the potential for some revolutionary studies in human behavior.
Marketers have long tried to use behavioral psychology to complement their efforts, and the kind of big data on behavior provided by the IoT should create a new, very powerful tool for content creators to play with.
Despite the very real concerns of privacy and security that need to be solved, all signs seem to point to the IoT as an inevitability. The IT research agency IDC has predicted the industry will be worth $7.1 billion by 2020, and companies like Apple, Google, and Samsung are placing big bets on the IoT. It’s not a stretch to say that marketers should, too.
Wearables aren’t anything new. Smart watches, smart wristbands… we’ve heard this song and dance before. The difference at this year’s CES is that they seem to finally be stylish, (at least according to WIRED), and, more importantly, invisible. Smart watches now just look like normal watches, and other intriguing devices such as smart jewelry, smart clothes, and smart glasses have been quickly improving in look and utility.
The all-encompassing reach of the IoT has also increased the viability of wearables. Instead of being standalone niche devices, the ultimate vision of an IoT world will place wearables as just one important piece in the larger network of connected devices. In fact, it wouldn’t be surprising to see smart watches as a kind of automatic remote control and notification hub, one that senses your body condition and changes your home or your car based on that data.
Like with other IoT-enabled devices, wearables are going to be yet another piece to add to the content puzzle. It may not be as obvious a space as a blog or a YouTube series, but there’s little doubt that marketers are going to be able to make use of the data and intimate reach of wearables.
Fitness-related companies can begin to optimize their content based on the data they receive from wearables, while others could begin to create content specifically for smart watches while taking advantage of their connection to the IoT. They will become both a platform and a data-collection tool to help bring content marketing to the next level.
TV Goes Online
One of the biggest and most immediate announcements to come from CES was Dish Network’s Sling TV, a $20 a month streaming service that seems to be the final confirmation of what many have seen coming for a long time: Folks are cutting the cable cord.
According to the Times, the service is about a fifth of the cost of your average cable package, and includes key channels such as ESPN in its offerings. ESPN has long been an impediment in many people’s desire to cut the cord, as event television such as sports are one of cable’s biggest advantages.
Combined with services like Hulu and Netflix, one could conceivably have access to a much larger network of entertainment choices than any cable package—not to mention the price cut and increase in convenience.
The move to online streaming has some obvious implications for the marketing world. TV ads will in all likelihood decrease in importance, while online content that can compete with big media’s offerings will need more funding than ever.
This is good news for brands with an established history with successful web series such as Chipotle’s “Farmed and Dangerous” or IKEA’s “Easy to Assemble.” With more and more people tuning online for their entertainment, brands that can successfully build followers with a solid web series are going to find larger and larger audiences—assuming they make the investment to compete with other online content, or, at the least, create their own niche.
All in all, this year’s CES has made it blatantly apparent that the content world—not to mention the world itself—is being more and more consolidated onto the Internet. Marketers and content creators need to keep up, or risk finding themselves left in the digital dust.