The real shock to anyone that depends upon annual opportunities for trade like CES, is the realization that 2020 - now mid-year - is pretty much gone, and there will be no trade shows at all this year and until mid-2021, if all goes well with the vaccine. So, for most manufacturers that always relied on CES, its time to active those "emergency" plans.
As for what the CTA will be able to put together, it certainly needs to be praised the fact that the association decided to confirm the cancellation of the physical event earlier, so that they can focus on preparing the best possible "digital" alternative. Until then, they will have the chance to see what their European rivals at IFA will do, and what works in general for those "digital experiences" that all show promoters are desperately trying to promote.
"Amid the pandemic and growing global health concerns about the spread of COVID-19, it's just not possible to safely convene tens of thousands of people in Las Vegas in early January 2021 to meet and do business in person," said Gary Shapiro, president and CEO, CTA. "Technology helps us all work, learn and connect during the pandemic – and that innovation will also help us reimagine CES 2021 and bring together the tech community in a meaningful way. By shifting to an all-digital platform for 2021, we can deliver a unique experience that helps our exhibitors connect with existing and new audiences."
As described in the CTA announcement, the all-digital CES 2021 will try to keep exhibitors connected with the "virtual" world of online attendees, which are - as they point out, "new audiences" and not at all the same audiences of an actual trade-show. The CES "attendee" is clearly a trade professional that goes to Las Vegas every year to do business - buy, sell, source, evaluate, research, connect. Online events essentially reach out to a global audience - or have the potential to do it, depending on the streaming platform that is used. Trade professionals will not wait for the CTA online show, they will connect with the companies on private Skype sessions long before that, because they know that in those "digital experience" days, the "exhibitors" will be too busy.
The all-digital CES 2021 might be useful for media from around the world - if there are actual product announcements at the event, which was not the case until now. And we cannot blame manufacturers if they decide to start promoting their own press conferences on their own platforms in advance, of course.
For a global audience of students, analysts and wanna-be-consultants that attend trade-shows for the conference sessions, the new format is perfect, allowing even more participants to hear from technology innovators, learn about technologies, and engage with global brands to receive their carefully filtered messages.
For the always vibrant startup community from around the world that attends CES every year, the "all-digital experience" are extremely challenging or can be an opportunity - it all depends on how agile their digital marketing people can be. Those who rely on having its founder at CEO "participating" from his sofa via Zoom, are not going to fare well, I'm afraid.
Promoting a "highly personalized experience" that "will bring a global event to the comfort and safety of your home or office," as the CTA suggests, is not as appealing as it looks for anyone confined to stay at home already for four or five months - and it will be even less in January next year.
At least, CTA left a message of hope that they are planning to return to Las Vegas for CES 2022, and yet, worryingly, suggesting "combining the best elements of a physical and digital show." Please no. We want the real thing back in 2022!
www.cta.tech | www.ces.tech