Where Experimentation Meets Intentionality: Our Takeaways from CES 2024

Written by Laurel Burton, Chief Executive Officer, Mike Creighton, Executive Director of Innovation, and John Brown, VP Technology

2023 ushered in another dramatic shift in how we think about the role of technology in our lives and businesses. It’s been a fundamental change felt across our industry and beyond—and it’s brought a new type of excitement and feverish drive to innovate, which fully came to fruition at this year’s CES.

From floor tours to client meetings and the Stagwell content studio, our goal this year was to immerse ourselves in the event to learn, connect, and engage. It felt great to have an orchestrated and intentional presence at the event—but more importantly, it gave us the opportunity to reflect on how we can continue our push for innovation with intention. Here are a few thoughts as 2024 takes shape right before us.

Innovating with Intention

CES is renowned as a playground for showcasing wild, course-changing products and technology. It’s a place where companies unveil new emerging tech for consumers, often shiny but sometimes lacking true purpose for customers, users, and real people out in the world.

To our excitement, CES this year wasn’t just shiny; it was strategic. It felt more humble, bringing intentionality alongside experimentation as a cornerstone for innovation. At Instrument, we’ve always believed that the two go hand in hand—that the wildly imaginative can also be undeniably useful—and this year’s CES was proof of that.

This year felt more reserved, and I appreciated it. Instead of inventing just for the sake of invention, products were solving problems by integrating existing tech in a more thoughtful way.

Intentional Technology

Amidst the buzz and rapid growth, AI emerged as both an overused tag and a genuine disruptor across industries. While the fascination with generative AI remains high, particularly in personalization and efficiency, leaders in the space focused specifically on its evolution hinging on data integrity, quality, and curation. New unlocks will come from generative AI’s current ability to bring insights and value from unstructured data in ways not possible before.

But all of this comes with a host of issues that need to be addressed—which we feel are attracting the attention and discourse they deserve. Brands, creators, and consumers will need to continue taking productive steps with respect to data privacy and control, data transparency, ownership, compensation models, ethics, and safety.

A huge part of our jobs will be helping marketers help brands message to their audiences about technologies beyond hype, and adding real value. Because consumers are going to start to know just as much as experts and the time to build trust is now.

Intentional Personalization

Consumers will know what this tech is capable of, and they’ll expect brands to integrate it and serve it up in ways that bring real value. Whether it’s Digital Twins, healthcare, finances, beauty, or intelligent stores by Instacart, consumers signal a desire for tech and data to create bespoke experiences catered to their interests. Brands are realizing how personalization is evolving and dimensionalizing media consumption far beyond content and ads. Services like YouTube are competing and going beyond the traditional streaming service offerings.

Gen Z, Spatial Natives, and Cord-Never segments want it all. They want the pre-, during, and post-events/music/shows, and they want it from both the brand and the influencers. Take this Amazon Ads tie-in with the fandom around Taylor Swift and Travis Kelce, for example. It’s not just about the moment; it’s about the experience and the fandom of these stories.

Intentional Integration

While Generative AI can be a tailwind, the idea of applying today’s technology to existing problems is what’s most exciting. The stories of technology coming out of CES weren’t about competing value props and use cases, but a look into how AI, Computer Vision, AR/VR, Generative AI/LLMs, Data, and Cloud can all work together with the right intention.

By integrating all these things, we can better comprehend our world as it becomes more accessible, smaller, and safer. This explosion of tech is intertwined into our lives, across products, events, moments, and wearables—all while getting more nuanced and widespread.

2024 will be about how we challenge our clients to go out of their comfort zone bringing their brands and products to market. How do we make it more intelligent? Do more? Not being afraid of exploration and dreaming big. It’s a time of experimentation and trust building.

Truth in Action

We’re taking all these insights into 2024 to create space for a more innovative and curious mindset across our entire workforce, with the hope of yielding a strong bias toward experimentation and play. From how we show up for ourselves, each other, our client partners, and the audiences they serve, CES 2024 was just the first step towards a whole host of more concrete and significant transformations we predict seeing within Instrument, our industry, and beyond.

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