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C Space Connects Content & Technology

Now in its fifth year, C Space – the CES program that brings together the world’s innovators, marketers and creatives all in one venue – is escalating its role as a mind-melding opportunity for creatives and marketers to share ideas and assess how they can capitalize on new technology available to them. Over the years, marketing, advertising and studio production executives have found inspiration at C Space for everything from the latest distribution method to display systems.

The synergy takes on new significance this year as leaders from every department confront emerging issues, such as trust and brand transparency, in an environment of shifting consumer expectations. For example, Procter & Gamble’s Chief Brand Officer Marc Pritchard will focus on how his company’s global brands are creating a marketing ecosystem to connect with consumers. P&G is also a first-time CES exhibitor, with a large presence at the Sands Expo.

The C Space conference agenda is packed with experts from leading brands such as Forbes, Cadillac, IBM and Unilever discussing new technologies and platforms changing the way consumers behave. C Space participants showcasing technologies related to advertising, marketing analytics and content on the show floor and in private suites include A&E Networks, Adobe Media, Comcast, eBay Advertising, Google, Hearst, Hulu, MediaLink, NBCUniversal, NeuLion, OMD, Pandora Media, Samsung Ads, Snap, T-Mobile, TiVo, Turner, Variety, Wunderman and WWE.

“We created C Space to bring advertising and content professionals together to network, create partnerships and make deals,” explains Karen Chupka, EVP, CES. “C Space is an opportunity to connect with industry leaders and decision makers in the entertainment and branding industries.”

Chupka characterizes the growing reality that “content resides on all our devices” as “incredibly important.” She also focuses on the growth of analytics and other tools that help marketers and programmers focus on new opportunities.

“There is so much knowledge about who’s watching what and the ability to create diverse programming,” Chupka says. “All of this data and analytics are becoming more and more important to understanding audiences.”

This year, Sports Zone – a popular component of CES in recent years — has been moved to C Space, because it’s “such an important tie-in,” Chupka explains. Chupka also notes the staying power of television sets despite the boom in alternative viewing devices helped the event’s numbers.

“At one point, everyone thought the TV set would become a dumb device, yet TVs have become smarter,” Chupka says. “TVs are still a huge part of our everyday lives. While we have all these great technologies being built into things we never thought of, at the end of the day, people are still using TVs, albeit interfacing with them in different ways.”

Answering Questions

In today’s era of rapidly shifting technology and ways to engage audiences, much of the C Space agenda is focused on identifying the key questions that are confronting both the creative and technical communities, such as:

  • What if the entertainment and marketing industries could alter the way people experience stories and culture?
  • How can marketing narratives offer a customized experience that bonds consumers to products?
  • What if a brand could become a platform for its audience to have their own adventures and create their own stories?
  • Can virtual reality be used to connect with audiences globally?
  • How will artificial intelligence curate content and inform marketing decisions?
  • What’s the outlook for augmented reality as a way for consumers to customize their shopping experiences?

Among the C Space programs confronting those topics are the sessions produced by MediaLink, a global advisory service working at “the intersection of media, marketing, advertising, entertainment, technology and finance.” Its session on “Diversification of Technology” examines whether in today’s era of personalization, there is still a role for marketing that appeals to the masses — and if that’s even desirable. Another panel looks at the resurgence of ad tech thanks to recent emergence of new platforms and growing availability of data-driven marketing, including prospects for blockchain in the next wave of media experiences.

MediaLink’s “Future of the Consumer Journey” assesses how technology-induced disintermediation (such as artificial intelligence and augmented reality) are affecting next-generation shoppers, requiring a need to identify new points of engagement and interaction.

Lori H. Schwartz, leading tech and media advisor at Story Tech, a Los Angeles technology and media advisory firm, characterizes C Space as “that rare opportunity for media and entertainment executives to experience the integration of content and technology in a way that accurately reflects what’s happening in the industry.”

“We’re in a period when media, tech and content are deeply integrated,” she explains. “C Space is sitting at the center of this swirl, helping to define these experiences, enabling media and advertising executives to understand how tech is creating context for content.” She points to the ways in which C Space “brings together the world’s innovators, marketers and creatives” where they can “discover disruptive trends and how they are going to change the future of brand marketing and entertainment.”

In addition to meeting technology executives, the creative community can use C Space to “explore and experience new technologies that change the way consumers behave” and hear from leaders in content creation, major studios and top advertising firms, Schwartz adds.

“Tech is fueling storytelling right now and all the players need context. C Space brings context,” says Schwartz, a veteran advertising executive who is the host and curator of “The Tech Cat Show” and leads executive tours during CES.

Tackling Timely Topics

Among the issues to be examined during C Space conference sessions is the sensitive approach to trust and transparency in the cyberspace communications.

Rich Calacci, chief revenue officer at Pluto TV, a multiplatform streaming media provider active at C Space, summarized the importance of adopting policies. “Being transparent is simply good business,” says Calacci. Companies need a strategy that promotes transparency or you run the risk of alienating partners and customers. In our view, young companies who come to market today are accustomed to the need for transparency and adhere to this approach as a strategic advantage.

“Brands need to be open about how they share their customers data in an open and easy to understand way,” Calacci continues. “At a high level, personally identifiable information (PII) data in the wrong hands is as dangerous as a car driving 120 mph down the highway. The collateral damage and unintended consequences can be grave so any effort that works to prevent transparency, for whatever reason, is promoting dishonesty.”

He emphasizes the need for transparency to present “a safe, well-lit environment for consumers, advertisers and content owners.”

At C Space, the fast-evolving tech media convergence is in the spotlight. Its importance has been identified by countless industry watchers for years. For example, as Manatt Digital points out in its recent “State of Video” analysis, high-value productions are now coming not just from studios, but also from “a whole slew of creators including digital-first studios, publishers, brands and influencers, and users.”

Mary Ermitanio, Manatt’s manager for Media/Technology/Advertising, characterizes the new ecosystem as “defined by the impact of a generational shift and strong preference for digital viewing, competitive pressures in advertising, and unprecedented consolidation and collaboration in the industry.”

Gary Arlen