CES

Content goes 360

Forget virtual reality. Actually don’t. But do start thinking beyond it to how content can work without a device. People have been forecasting a big year for the tech for at least the past decade and with Oculus Rift finally set to launch this year, alongside products from Samsung and Sony, this could be the year it makes it into the hands of consumers.

Yet real opportunity is in 360 degree content. People coud previously only see such content on virtual reality headsets but it can now be viewed on Facebook and YouTube.

Ben Woods, research chief at CCS Insight, says: “2016 is the year that 360 degree content is going to start going mainstream. With platforms such as Facebook and YouTube now able to share 360 degree videos via PCs and smartphones. We are already aware of lots of automotive, media, travel and movie companies planning to invest in this area.

“Add to that the growing accessibly to virtual reality headsets be that cheap cardboard devices or the increasingly affordable products from companies like Samsung and it’s clear there is a groundswell of momentum building.”

Some brands have been early movers in this space. Take Castrol which has created content for YouTube that shows stunt drivers Ben Collins (formerly The Stig) and Matt Powers racing head-to-head, live, in a virtual world to promote its EDGE engine oil.

Marketers will need to come on top of all the latest innovations in 360 degree content to ensure their content strategy remains relevant, while being mindful of not jumping on every little development in a bid to stay cutting edge.

Richard Armstrong, the founder of content marketing agency Kameleon, warns: “Whether [360 degree content will be used in a cohesive content strategy for many brands is unlikely, as this still seems to be an area many brands are left wanting, but we have no doubt that there will be some great pieces of content created in the next 12 months.

“It will also be interesting to see how both the content and experiential disciplines begin to become more intertwined, owing to the extraordinary viewing and physical experiences that this technology can deliver.”

Wearables try to appeal to the masses

Google-Glass-1

Smart glasses, smartwatches and smart clothing may have built up a lot of hype but are yet to see the sales to back that hype up. Much of the problem has been that they just don’t look very good. As our columnist Mark Ritson put it when speaking about Google Glass: “It was an ugly product that made anyone wearing it look stupid.”

The key now is to make smart watches attractive not to early tech adopters but the masses. Not just people that love Apple and will fork out hundreds of dollars to buy the Apple Watch but to anyone that will wear a watch.

There have been some moves in this space. Fashion brand Fossil recently bought wearable activity tracker MisFits and is hoping to incorporate its technology into watches it produces for brands including Adidas, Burberry and DKNY.

Fitbit is also expected to announce some tie-ups with fashion brands while preview event CES Unveiled WearWise revealed a range of jewellery that can be programmed to send a distress text to a contact in the event of an emergency.

More industries make the move to CES

A few years ago it would have been a very strange site to see a car marque unveiling a new model or innovation at CES. Yet this year you seemingly can’t move for car announcements.

Kia has already introduced its self-driving products – dubbed DriveWise – which will include technology such as autonomous urban driving and blind-spot protection while Audi will show off the latest innovation for its Q3 and S4 models.

And now other industries are taking note as well. L’Oreal made its CES debut last year with the launch of its Makeup Genius app and is back this year for another product launch.

French cosmetics company Romy is also in Las Vegas to promote its personalised moisturising cream. Rather than buying customer-made products, Romy’s machine makes bespoke creams using ingredients with different functions dependent on the customers’ needs.

3D printing gets personal

Talking of personalisation, expect CES to bring even more technology to enable brands to customise their products. 3D printing isn’t new, but it is becoming much more accessible through a combination of falling prices and improving technology.

One brand that will be unveiling some new products is New Balance. It unveiled its first 3D-printed running shoe back in November (in time for the Boston marathon) and will be showing it off at CES.

new balance 3d shoe

While it is not available to buy yet, New Balance staff will be showing how the tech works to enable the brand to customise running shoes to an individual’s feet.

The number of 3D printing machines on show should also offer some food for thought for marketers looking at ways to customise packaging or products and replicate the success of Coca-Cola’s Share A Coke or Marmite’s personalised jars campaigns.

Moving beyond the tech glitz

The tendency at CES is to get lost in the excitement of all the new technology and forget to work out how it is relevant to a particular brand or customer. However brands must ensure there is real demand for new devices or services before they spend their hard-earned budgets.

Accenture’s new survey offers a reason for caution. A poll of 28,000 consumers across 28 countries revealed “sluggish demand” for traditional consumer devices such as tablets and smartphones “lacklustre” demand for newer tech such as internet of things devices (think smart homes) and wearables.

The reasons for this include concerns over stolen data and device malfunctions and issues over ease-of-use, design expectations and battery life.

“The slowdown in the consumer technology market is irrefutable, serious and global.”

Sami Luukkonen, global managing director of electronics and high tech, Accenture

“The market is not about the glitzy gadgets anymore, rather it’s about providing secure, innovative and practical digital services and more collaboration. The industry needs to make a sharp turn toward providing innovative, value-added services that consumers are able to use with confidence,” he adds.

Marketers would do well to heed that advice.