What consumer tech innovations will define the next decade? (Sim Blaustein, BDMI)

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CES is an annual showcase of innovation, where the world discovers the next must-have electronic gadget. It was where the first videocassette recorder was unveiled, in 1970, and where gamers first laid eyes on Microsoft’s Xbox in 2001. The 2020 event ran over four days in January, and Sim Blaustein, a Partner at BDMI, looks back at his visit on the trends that will impact the Total Video world.

The growth of AVOD streaming platforms compared to SVOD

One big takeaway from CES 2020 was the emergence of a raft of ad-funded video-on-demand (AVOD) streaming platforms, following several years of new subscription based services flooding the market. So far we’ve seen Peacock, Pluto, Tubi and Xumo, to name a few, and others are on their way. It’s really interesting to watch what new services are doing with their ad inventory and how marketers use these new environments. The SVOD phenomenon has been fascinating but consumers are finding it’s getting expensive. Clearly ad-funded video programming will be a new major driver of the OTT market.

New software solutions to manage and optimise creative workflows

In terms of back end developments, it was really exciting to see some of the new software solutions for managing and optimising creative workflows.

Video advertisers need to manage an ever-growing number of formats and endpoints to reach their audience, while at the same time having to adapt to fully-distributed creative teams across the world.

Without getting technical, these are the kinds of solutions that allow advertisers to build fantastic creative in any format needed, and deliver it to the right audiences efficiently. While this field is not new, due to Covid, we have seen significant uptick in next-generation solutions for Digital Asset Management, like Tenovos.

New models of targetting and attribution in a cookie-less world

In somewhat more future facing trends, it was fascinating to learn about new models of targeting and attribution in a cookieless world. Although this is something which is partly being driven by regulators, innovations are also coming because of progressive marketers and publishers who want to give us all a better user experience.

Regulation and platform decisions have led marketers and publishers to look for new means of targeting consumers beyond the cookie.

These past months, we’ve seen many companies rolling out more robust first party data solutions, cooperatives, and contextual-based targeting. That being said, the full transition away from cookiebased advertising infrastructure will necessarily take time.

We’re keeping a close eye on developments. Obviously AI featured heavily. The demonstration of Rosebud AI’s amazingly real non-models has lots of interesting implications for workflows I mentioned above. And it was great to work by Sensity, which BDMI has invested in, on show demonstrating their important work in the field of deepfake detection. The two businesses might seem polar opposites but actually are two sides of the same coin. Why? Ads which use virtual people need to make it clear that’s the case, otherwise they risk making people feel tricked – a surefire way for brands to lose loyal customers, who no longer trust what they’re being shown. Truth in AI is paramount.

There is tech- which
will make us wonder
in 5 years how
we ever did
our jobs before
It was a great thrill to be at CES in Las Vegas this year, as the 2021 event is going to be totally digital. It’ll be a different experience, of course, but there are a lot of advantages to being able to discover the latest developments at one’s own pace.

Next-gen TV screens

Another development on the consumer front is with television sets, which are transforming once again. Samsung’s The Wall and LG’s OLED TV stole the headlines, for obvious reasons, and are likely to convert any so-called screen agnostics who still think TVs are passé.

About BDMI

Bertelsmann Digital Media Investments (BDMI) is a wholly owned subsidiary of the global media, services and education company Bertelsmann. BDMI has invested in over 100 startups since 2007 and is currently focused on the categories of next gen media, next gen brands, enterprise SaaS, and fintech.

Sim Blaustein

Sim Blaustein

Partner, BDMI

Sim joined BDMI in 2012 from High Line Venture Partners, where he co-founded the seed fund, and has been in venture capital since 2002 including 3 years at Gabriel Ventures where he managed 17 investments including 3 IPOs and 3 M&As. In addition to spearheading BDMI's seed fund, he led or co-led BDMI’s investments in StyleHaul (acquired by RTL), Dramafever (acquired by Softbank), HelloGiggles (acquired by Time), Food52, Frank & Oak, Jukin Media and Nativo. He is actively focused on new investments in online video and next-generation content-driven companies. He holds an MBA from MIT Sloan, an engineering degree from the Cooper Union where he graduated Summa cum Laude and is a graduate of Stuyvesant High School.
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