DEG to Mount EnTech Fest Feb. 15-16 at Skirball, No Event at CES

DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group’s previously announced new event EnTech Fest will take place Feb. 15-16 at the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles. The event replaces, and expands upon, the annual DEG reception at CES, which won’t be held this coming year for the first time in the group’s 25-year history.

The EnTech event will showcase new content distribution and display technology. There will be an in-car entertainment gallery and a “Startup Alley” will highlight new companies with products and services in entertainment technology.

The event is open to all DEG members.

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Potential exhibitors or sponsors can email Andi Elliott at Andi@degonline.org.

Proof of COVID-19 Vaccination Required to Attend CES 2022

The Consumer Technology Association has announced that CES 2022  will require in-person attendees to provide proof of COVID-19 vaccination.

CES 2022 will take place in Las Vegas Jan. 5-8, 2022, with media days Jan. 3-4.

CTA will again create a digital event that will run in parallel with the in-person program.

“Based on today’s science, we understand vaccines offer us the best hope for stopping the spread of COVID-19,” Gary Shapiro, president and CEO of the CTA, said in a statement. “We all play a part in ending the pandemic through encouraging vaccinations and implementing the right safety protocols. We are taking on our responsibility by requiring proof of vaccination to attend CES 2022 in Las Vegas.”

The CTA is also assessing the acceptance of proof of a positive antibody test as an alternative requirement and will share more details on this later, according to a CTA press release.

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“Safety, security and health are always a priority at CES, and we will follow state and local guidelines and recommendations by the CDC,” read the press release. “CTA will continue to monitor and evaluate the situation and will announce additional protocols closer to the show.”

Some 2,000 companies including major brands and start-ups will be in Las Vegas, according to the CTA. CES 2022 will feature new categories showcasing how the industry is evolving, including space tech, food tech and NFTs. The show will highlight advancements in AI, AR/VR, gaming and computing, digital health, automotive and transportation, home entertainment, smart home, and more, according to the CTA. Audiences will hear from industry leaders during live keynotes, including General Motors chair and CEO Mary Barra and T-Mobile CEO Mike Sievert.

Visit CES.tech for CES 2022 updates.

WarnerMedia Names Suja Viswesan Head of Data in Tech Group

WarnerMedia June 24 announced its newest technology and operations hire, Suja Viswesan, as head of data, completing the company’s executive leadership team for the tech group.

Effective immediately, Viswesan will lead the data, product and analytics strategy across the company’s technology and operations organization. This includes architecting and building a scalable and highly-distributed data infrastructure, as well as managing and optimizing core data infrastructure. Based in San Francisco, she reports to Richard Tom, chief technology officer of WarnerMedia.

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“Suja is the ideal leader to join our team as she not only has great experience that is deeply rooted in software development and big data, but she also brings with her a purposeful focus on building inclusive and global products and teams,” Tom said in a statement. “She will play a crucial role in how we apply data to build the best products and tools to deliver WarnerMedia’s content to millions of customers across the world, and I’m so excited that she’s here.”

Prior to joining WarnerMedia, Viswesan served as director of engineering at LinkedIn, where she led the big data applications and platform organization, and was responsible for the company’s data strategy, infrastructure and compliance. Her previous experience also includes leading a global team at IBM, where she supported the company’s global data and insights platform, as well as supported the development of the product management strategy.

“From VHS to DVDs to streaming, media has not only adopted and shaped bleeding-edge technology, but also has adapted to suit the demand of its audience,” Viswesan said in a statement.

Since joining WarnerMedia in June 2020, Tom has focused on revamping the company’s technology and operations structure, drawing on long-tenured leadership from across WarnerMedia’s existing businesses and importing external talent from top technology companies to its senior leadership team.

The technology and operations team is responsible for delivering the tech strategy, platform development and operations across the full scope of WarnerMedia’s portfolio of its linear, digital and streaming platforms. This includes the company’s data strategy, content delivery systems, master control operations, broadcast engineering, advertising technology and the technology platform for HBO Max, while also supporting the everyday underpinnings of the company and its global workforce.

In addition to Viswasen, the WarnerMedia technology and operations executive leadership team reporting to Tom includes:

  • Bob Hesskamp, a longtime veteran with more than 25 years of experience with Turner and CNN, serves as EVP of production engineering.
  • Patty Hirsch, a digital technology executive with past leadership roles at Warner Bros., Time Warner and CBS Interactive, is EVP of consumer digital platforms for the company’s entertainment, news and sports division.
  • Ben John, an engineer and established technology leader with previous roles at AppNexus, Experian and Kaplan Test Prep, serves as chief technology officer of Xandr.
  • Lonn Lee, who joined the company most recently from Facebook in November 2020, is SVP of product innovation, media supply chain and content operations.
  • Jason Press, a former Comcast executive, joined WarnerMedia in 2019 and serves as EVP of direct-to-consumer technology and program management.
  • Kevin Seng joined WarnerMedia in November 2020 from Snap, and serves as SVP of advertising technology.
  • Kathy Styponias, a longtime HBO technology executive, is EVP of strategy and business operations.
  • Mike Welch leads the Xandr business as EVP and GM, bringing 24 years of experience working in various roles throughout AT&T.
  • Jeff Zeitz, a Warner Bros. executive for more than 25 years, serves as SVP of enterprise and workplace technology.

Online CES Moves to Jan. 11-14

The 2021 CES event, which is going online and was scheduled to start Jan. 6, is moving back to Jan. 11-14, organizers announced.

The new schedule is:

  • Jan. 11: Exclusive media-only access
  • Jan. 12: Exhibitor showcase and conference programming
  • Jan. 13: Exhibitor showcase and conference programming
  • Jan. 14: Conference programming

 

Owned and produced by the Consumer Technology Association, CES 2021 will be an all-digital experience connecting exhibitors, customers, thought leaders and media from around the world. CES 2021 will allow participants to hear from technology innovators, see cutting-edge technologies and the latest product launches, and engage with global brands and startups from around the world, according to organizers.

For more than 50 years, CES has spotlighted technology. Visit CES.tech for all CES 2021 updates.

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Report: Baby Boomers Slow to Adopt New Technology

Baby boomers, by conventional wisdom, are not entirely nondigital ⁠— they were, after all, the pioneers of adopting home computers — but at this point in their lives, they’re a bit more reluctant about adopting newer technologies.

That’s the genesis of a new eMarketer report that found increased use of voice assistants and smart-home devices has largely skipped consumers born between 1946 and 1964.

The report’s author, Mark Dolliver, writes that along with concerns about privacy, lagging tech adoption among boomers relates to ongoing indifference regarding adoption of new things.

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eMarketer cited a surge in voice-activated technology, which Dolliver said ought to have appeal for older boomers, whose ability to read a small screen and manipulate a tiny virtual keyboard may be declining. Yet boomers who own smartphones have lagged in using the voice assistant functions on devices.

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“We estimate that 38.6% of smartphone boomers will use the voice assistant this year, vs. 49.0% of Gen Xers and 53.1% of millennials,” Dolliver wrote.

The report also claims boomers have scant adoption of smart-home technology, such as monitoring devices, Internet-connected home thermostats and smart appliances. According to a September 2019 AARP survey, penetration of such devices was lowest among the oldest boomers (who might benefit from them most) — falling from 11% among 50- to 59-year-olds, to 10% among 60- to 69-year-olds and to 7% among those ages 70 and older. Boomers also lag in adopting smart speakers, which bump up against their chronic worry about digital privacy.

“We expect just 17.6% of boomers to own smart speakers this year, barely half the device’s penetration among Gen Xers,” Dolliver wrote.

When boomers and seniors do try a new technology and find practical benefit in it, they’re like to stick with it, according to Dr. Alison Bryant, SVP of research at AARP.

“They may not literally be the first kid on the block to adopt it,” Bryant said. “But once they do, they will use it if it’s of value to them. And they have the discretionary income to actually purchase it.”

Parks: Americans Value Technology More Than Ever

Sometimes it take crisis to underscore the value of science and technology.

New data from Parks Associates suggests 53% of U.S. broadband households claim they value technology more now than before, following the outbreak of the coronavirus and the resulting social distancing and shelter-in-place orders across the country.

Parks, in an online survey fielded between March 8 and April 3 to heads of domestic broadband households, found that only 28% of seniors aged 75 and older are self-quarantining, while 70% of consumers overall said they are following social distancing rules, and 30% said they are following shelter-in-place orders or are otherwise self-quarantining.

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The report suggests that increased home confinement has resulted in greater awareness and appreciation for technology. Survey respondents said their intention to purchase consumer electronics in the next 12 months has risen 5% compared with the year prior. More than 20% of respondents said they have subscribed to at least one new OTT video service within the past three months.

“2020 marks an unprecedented time in U.S. and global history. COVID-19 has impacted global supply chains, worldwide businesses, and consumer spending,” senior analyst Kristen Hanich said in a statement. “It has prompted exceptional actions from regulators in terms of both public health and monetary and fiscal policy.”

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Kantar: Technology Continues to Challenge, Drive Media Distribution

Technology will continue to redefine the media landscape in 2020, creating opportunities and challenges for marketers. According to Kantar Worldpanel’s new global 2020 Media Trends & Predictions report, marketers and media owners will be challenged to develop the skills, engagement models and measurement capabilities to meaningfully engage consumers in the crowded media landscape.

Kantar contrends that while new and evolving media channels will create opportunities, the deluge of digital content distribution will make it more difficult to connect with individual consumers.

The report says marketers will need to navigate the ‘data dilemma,’ meeting consumer demand for relevant, personalized content, without breaching trust and privacy. And as third-party cookies start to crumble, advertisers will need to find alternative measurement solutions. A cookie is created when someone first visits a website that wants to store visitor information.

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Kantar says the technology trends transforming the media landscape next year include:

• 5G finally gets real: The marketing industry will be one of the key beneficiaries of the 5G era, enabling far greater capabilities to reach and engage with consumers but taking advantage of the 5G opportunity will require a significant transformation from marketers.

• The battle of the streaming platforms heats up: New players will see the battle of the streaming platforms heat up, but an increasingly cluttered market will drive subscription fatigue among consumers.

• Turning up the volume: Brands will turn up the volume and find their voice as we enter a new age of audio advertising. Newer audio channels are poised to gain mainstream prominence.

• Content meets commerce: Content and commerce will converge as ‘shopvertising’ evolves from shoppable social to shoppable TV and digital out-of-home resulting in a contraction of the closed-loop marketing cycle.

• The spaces that brands can credibly occupy: Brands get back to reality: Brands will balance their digital presence with more real-world experiences, meaning we could see a slowdown in the pace of digital advertising growth.

• Brands take a stand: Taking the lead from consumers, brands will become more radical in 2020. But they need to ensure their media strategy is aligned with their values and purpose.

• Just grow up: influencer marketing must measure what matters: Influencer marketing will mature as brands start to collaborate more deeply and take measurement more seriously in 2020.

• Get ready to play: e-sports goes mainstream: esports will go mainstream over the next 12 months, presenting lucrative opportunities for the media owners and advertisers that learn the rules of the game.

• Turn and face the change: The trend towards media in-housing: The trend towards media in-housing will continue as more brands build their own teams of digital experts, pushing agencies and advertisers out of their traditional comfort zones, into a new collaborative and exciting space.

• Cookies start to crumble: Changing the recipe: The demise of cookies could leave many marketers in the dark. Advertisers need to prepare now for the new “mixed economy”. Direct integrations between publishers and measurement partners will enable true cross-publisher measurement for the first time.

• The data dilemma: Doing the right thing with data: Faced with impending legislation like the California Consumer Privacy Act in January 2020, privacy ethics will come to the fore and marketers will design personalisation initiatives with a people-first, rather than tech-first, mentality.

• Campaign 2020: Political advertising will create crowding and clutter in 2020, especially in the U.S. media landscape. Brand advertisers will need to rethink their strategy during campaign season.

“Increased advertising and content possibilities, along with the data generated, create a plethora of opportunities for marketers and media owners,” Jane Ostler, global head of media effectiveness, said in a statement. “Other channels, like influencer marketing and the newer audio channels, will face a make-or-break moment; their credibility could be at risk unless they evolve and live up to their promise. Marketers will need to improve their understanding of how different touchpoints effectively work for their brands – online and off.”