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Ad biz gets in game

Consumer behavior a focus at CES

An assortment of digital MVPs convened for a “technology all stars” panel at Variety’s CES Entertainment Summit, in which they held forth on trends sweeping the media landscape from the Vegas show to Madison Avenue.

Panelists agreed that this year’s CES was marked less by a breakthrough by any one technology but incremental gains across a broad base of devices.

“Nothing is jumping through from a hardware perspective,” said Ross Levinsohn, executive VP of Yahoo Americas.

“It feels to me like this is the tipping point year of video for all these devices, from fully integrated plasmas to any handheld device.”

One such piece of content headed for lots of connected devices is “Electric City,” a series Yahoo is co-producing with Tom Hanks via his company, Playtone, and Reliance Entertanment. Drew Buckley, COO of Electus, credited “Electric” with raising the bar for digital content in a way that will generate buzz among consumers and advertisers.

“It’s a big statement for content creators and developers thinking of digital in a meaningful and powerful way,” said Buckley. “For us as content providers, it’s a big sea change.”

Another change Levinsohn noted is playing out among the CES attendees. “This is as much an advertising conference as it is a technology conference,” he said. “We’re starting to see a pendulum swing to the people who spend billions and billions of dollars.”

Jon Kraft, COO of Ubermedia and co-founder of Pandora, believes Madison Avenue is accelerating across the digital learning curve in a way that will unlock more dollars. “Advertisers are starting to understand it better, and that’s going to drive increased spending.”

What is challenging media companies, according to John Sviokla, principal and innovation leader at PwC, is evolving established ways of doing business to match the realities of how consumers are consuming. “I think we’re going to see a revolution in the understanding of customer behavior,” he predicted.

With so much content flooding across platforms, discovery is another key challenge. “Consumers are becoming not more hostile but more limited in time,” said Andrew Osis, president/CEO of Poynt Corp. “They want the thing they want right away.”

And video isn’t the only game in town, argued Jim Mollica, VP of digital marketing at Nickelodeon Networks, emphasized that everything from social media to videogames are encroaching. “We have to look at competition beyond video,” he said.

Added Chris Geddes, VP of mobile sales at Mobovivo, “I don’t think the dust will settle, I think we’re in a perpetual state of innovation and migration.”

The panel was moderated by Xavier Kochhar, Managing Partner, Medialink, LLC.

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