By the time C-suite marketers hit CES, they know their agenda—and we follow along with their schedule each year. In 2018, we heard CMOs talking about diversity, data and voice marketing as three strategies to hone in on soon after the show closes.

Marketers Make Diversity, Female-First Messaging Priority

After the #MeToo movement, brands will increase marketing and messaging toward a future that is meaningfully empowering females.

“It is time for change,” said Pamela Drucker Mann, CRO and CMO for Conde Nast. “As a marketer, we need to think about how we address the community in a new way. How do we first and foremost think about women in our own organizations? And how do we market to them, and have them think differently?”

Consumers have expectations from brands to champion the kinds of changes that governments might not. According to Meredith Verdone, CMO for Bank of America, that will mean challenging authority.

“We’re not going to represent anything that is not aligned with our values,” said Verdone. “As a brand, we need to recognize the power shift that’s happening. The [marketing] industry has a lot of work to do.”

One way for brands to curate impactful marketing is to look in the mirror, hinted Google CMO Lorraine Twohill, and work with female creative directors to craft the particular messaging that is needed to ignite change.

“How many creative directors are women? We have to look at our own work as well,” said Twohill. “The marketing industry has a long way to go.”

Data Needs To Be Complemented With Creativity

The availability of new martech and democratized, quantified data is allowing marketers to deploy strategies in a relevant, economic and compelling fashion to drive growth.

CMOs from Deloitte, MasterCard and Turner agreed that data will remain paramount in order for their respective brands—and fellow marketers—to own relationships with consumers and deliver deeper experiences. But since data can sometimes be misleading, marketers need to spend more time in trusting their creative instincts.

“It’s the greatest time to be a marketer, because it’s not just about big data. We still have creativity, and everyone values that,” said Diana O’Brien, global CMO for Deloitte. “You still have to ask the broad questions so that you don’t fall into just data telling you something.”

For entertainment marketers who are trying to reach cord cutters and mobile-first users, they’ve only been exposed to data in the last handful of years, so using data for constant iteration to craft messaging will continue to be key.

“We now have the visibility that we never had before with viewing data that was not available to us before,” said Molly Battin, Turner’s EVP and global chief communications and corporate marketing officer. “Data helps us understand how [viewers] want to consume the content, and I can deliver more targeted, relevant messages that mean more to them.”

Battin said she’s increasingly depending on the in-house Turner Data Cloud to marry art, science and storytelling to determine which consumers are converting and tuning into their slate of programming across different networks. In addition to making new material, she and the teams at Turner are leveraging the data insights for the ad sales and internal media teams to use at their disposal.

Raja Rajamannar, chief marketing and communications officer for MasterCard, said that although quantitatively driven decision making is important, at the end of the day, you still need to rely on the human element and realize that data can’t track a potential smile you bring to the face of your target audience. He was quick to point out that the brand’s now famous “Priceless” campaign did not perform as well as the alternative idea when originally tested with data years ago.

“The key thing is to not ignore judgmental and creative decisions,” said Rajamannar. “Unless you are successful in the short term, there is no long term. Use data, but still trust your gut feel.”

Voice-Assistant Devices Emerge As New Purchase Channel

An overwhelming popular consensus from marketing executives is that voice-assistant devices, a darling of CES last year and now a little bit more mature in 2018 and ready to grow even further, is positioning itself to be the fourth purchase channel for consumers.

Marketers who are late to the ballgame in crafting strategies that are native to the platform and deliver valuable, frictionless smart home experiences will potentially put their brand at risk of being on the outside looking in as the battle for the voice ecosystem heats up.

“Voice marketing is an interesting journey—it’s about delivering value in a more intuitive way for people to access content,” said Yin Woon Rani, vice president of integrated marketing at Campbell Soup Company. “We believe that voice will have an important use case in the future, but we do not have it completely cracked yet.”

Once consumers yearn for more than just music streaming, alarm reminders and weather reports, marketers will have to walk the tightrope of delivering valuable information with the occasional deal, sale and promotion from the newfound artificial friend and cloud-based brain.

“The jury is still out as to whether or not these platforms will continue to reach as many horizontal use cases as possible,” said Ryan McInnis, director of marketing for Voysis.