As CES closed last week, sustainability topics, emerging podcasts, and the metaverse were discussed. (Catch up on the first day CES highlights.)
This year’s Tech & Gadget Festival seems to focus a little more than usual on audio, video, spatial, and immersive gear. Not surprisingly, companies have shifted their priorities to more communication, virtualization and video tools since the pandemic has irrevocably changed the workplace and social activities.
All things metaverse and Web3
As expected, Web3 technologies and revitalization and the metaverse represented some of the biggest product and programming highlights this year at CES. Several agency and media executives told Digiday that there seems to be more AR and VR products out there than previous offerings.
Josh Campo, CEO of Razorfish, an interactive agency within Publicis Groupe, said the activations got agencies thinking about metaverse and Web3 use cases. Compared to recent years when agencies were still trying to understand what the metaverse is, Campo believes that clients and agencies are now focusing on practical applications before experimentation—especially as companies enter very cautiously into an uncertain economy.
“Conversations are now evolving from just doing something cool [in the metaverse]Campo told Digiday.
But there’s still a long way to go before any form of metaverse can be developed, if at all. Campo also noted that consumers are not quickly adopting some of these devices and technologies because of the high costs. In addition, many virtual reality headsets and devices are “still useless,” he said.
However, there are companies working on metaverse initiatives that don’t have anything to do with augmented reality or virtual reality specifically. It’s often misunderstood that the metaverse stands for AR and VR, but accessing some of these virtual platforms simply requires an online browser—headsets are optional for the immersive feel.
Such is the case for Dentsu’s metaverse campus, Dentsu NXT Space, on productivity platform HeadOffice.Space. The metaverse was revealed this week at CES as new buildings and areas continue to be built and upgraded on the platform. Part of the initiative Dentsu’s experiment in the metaverse It helps the agency guide clients in their testing and research.
Val Vacante, vice president of solutions and innovation at Dentsu, said NXT Space continues to grow as the agency develops additional VR features at South by Southwest later this year. Dentsu also recently built a new Microsoft Retail Education Center and LinkedIn Lounge within Moon Valley. Microsoft is the agency partner in launching NXT Space, and many of the tools used within the platform are Microsoft products.
The showroom is designed for customers to easily access the tool. For example, consumers can scan virtual items in Dentsu’s metaverse showroom and retail lab for product details and delivery of those products in the physical world.
We want to work with you [clients] on their vision and prioritizing from there,” Vacant told Digiday. “Depending on the experience they want, [it is] Just really thinking about the experiences we’re creating.”
Podcasts becoming more immersive?
Marketers and agencies at CES’ C Space on Friday delved into the evolution of podcasting and audio, honing in on how these platforms fit into the future of advertising and technology. In a conversation with SiriusXM executives, Sarah Stringer, EVP and Head of U.S. Media Partnerships at Dentsu, talks about how the agency’s involvement has helped podcasts grow into billions. industry in recent years.
Like many agencies, Dentsu has experimented with different ad formats and content creators to help clients find new activations and executions in the medium. Stringer said Dentsu had been researching the attention economy for five years, and found that sound was among the main important drivers of people’s recall. In other words, the voice recognition for something like melodies and jingles is powerful.
“A song or something with voice recognition would really give you that moment — we’re really seeing that kind of come back to prominence,” Stringer said. “For me, I think this renaissance in audio that was really driven by podcasting is the fact that people feel so passionate about the things that they follow. It allows for a better cut.”
For the future of podcasting, Stringer said there’s potential for more immersive content and experiences as smart speakers, connected cars, and spatial audio improve. I used an example of how listening can be combined with accompanying video content to make the podcast more interactive.
“I think we haven’t even scratched the surface of where the impact of audio storytelling can occur in this new immersive environment,” Stringer said. “Audio is growing and a lot of the growth is being driven by connected cars, obviously through smart speakers, and even through cell phones.”
How agencies can address sustainability
Besides robotics and agricultural innovations at CES that address sustainability, the agencies also had their own discussions about environmental goals. When it comes to sustainability, GroupM, WPP’s media arm, plans to be “very aggressive” when it comes to pushing for more accountability across its partners and potential customers, according to GroupM CEO Kirk McDonald. He said companies should set concrete and public goals, which would help drive accountability and measure progress.
He said, “Standards matter because you can’t manage things you don’t measure.” “And we have to agree on scaling increments to move something forward. That requires us to sit down and figure out what the unit is and figure out what the progress looks like.”
Although carbon offsets are part of the solution, McDonald said it’s not the only thing that matters. He noted that an overemphasis on compensation may allow companies to appear compliant without actually reducing carbon footprints in meaningful ways.
“We think the offsets are important because they have to be a path for us to get into the uncomfortable zone,” McDonald said. “A path for us to look at workflow improvements, a path for us to think about the things we need to actually run our business versus the things we’ve done as old practice.” Digiday reporter Marty Swant Contribute to this report.