In many ways, CES is becoming the North American version of Cannes. It’s a fantastic way to check in at the start of the year, make connections, and see what’s happening across the tech and video advertising industry.

While the original draw of CES was all the latest gadgets and devices, more and more of the action is happening at offsite events. In fact, when Pixability’s leadership team hit CES 2020 in Las Vegas earlier this month, we never even made it to the show floor. And most of the people we spoke with never did either. But as much as I wanted to see some of the sessions or check out the latest internet-connected toaster, there simply wasn’t the time or need. Instead of buying the exhibit badge, we found much more value in making connections at mixers or at offsite meetings. It was a busy, productive trip, with over 20 meetings over two and half days — in fact, I walked over 10 miles on the first day alone.

The Aria Hotel is the epicenter of ad tech at CES, with nearly every vendor on the LUMAscape represented. From there, we found that overall, the temperature at CES had changed — there was a much greater focus on efficiency and productivity. Across the board, it seemed like people were there to do business. It was a welcome change — in previous years, many were simply at the convention to hit all the vendor parties and stay out too late. Throughout the trip, we found that people were interested in leaning in, forging partnerships, and doing business.

Also, swag is apparently back in style this year. I left with four different portable batteries.

Here’s what we found at CES:

Everyone wants a piece of Connected TV

The Connected TV space is going to be huge. And if CES is any indicator, it’s going to be crowded too. With increasing consolidation in the ad tech ecosystem, we can expect greater focus around going after Connected TV money. The challenge becomes how ad tech players can differentiate themselves and their product, and work with and across the larger Connected TV platforms. Throughout our time at CES, Amazon Fire TV and Roku increasingly showed they could do just that. Many new connected TV screens ship with its software built-in, Roku offers a compelling solution with a broad reach among living room screens both with and without cable packages, helping marketers reach a wider than audience than through linear TV ads alone. Amazon Fire TV also continues to grow, and is unique in its ability to tie back video to deep-funnel activity on, such as purchases, new-to-brand purchases, and add-to cart. And as we’ve previously illustrated, YouTube is the elephant in the room for connected TV, with more living room viewers than any other platform.

It’s all about data

Content may be key for platforms — but for ad tech providers, data is the holy grail. It’s data, and how marketers scale and leverage that data, that’s going to drive business results and uncover the insights that can make or break a marketing strategy. Data and its uses were at the core of every meeting we attended.

Focus on partnerships

Many companies have found success going down their own path, but this CES we found an increased focus on partnerships. By going down the partner path, businesses can go to market faster, learn from each other’s mistakes, test and iterate product strategies, and combine their resources. It’s a way to make 1+1=3.

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