I’ve been at CES for three days now — my first visit to the show, and the only Pando reporter here at the event — and I’m still not entirely sure why I’m here. Which is to say, it’s not immediately clear why any member of the media is here. I mean, sure, there’s the thrilling opportunity to review the world’s best laptops or television sets or phones or cameras, all in one place. Like going to BestBuy, but with hundreds of thousands of other people, and without the opportunity to buy anything.
But such press release transcription surely can’t justify media organizations like CNET and The Verge constructing aircraft carrier sized promotional trailers and transporting what seems to be their entire team just to inform the world the world that Staples is expanding its connected home partnerships, or that Gigabyte has launched a gaming laptop.
The closest I’ve come to the answer was reading Sarah Lacy’s post on the ad deals struck at CES. In many ways, these big blogs and media companies are here for the same reason the exhibitors are. Exposure. They want their names out there, to remind conference goers — everyone from the C-level industry executives, to the lowly booth bros ‘n babes — who’s boss. CES is a reputation building place for gadget blogs and tech sites just as much as it is for the gadget makers themselves.
Just like other exhibitors, the bigger presence a media company has at CES, the more visibility they have. And big, visible media entities get advertising dollars. As Sarah Lacy discussed earlier today, those dollars are the backbone of the consumer Internet and a large, unspoken part CES. Blogs, newspapers, and magazines rely heavily on the very same big corporations they’re covering at CES to pay for banner ads and sponsor content and fund media events.
That explains all the media events that have very little to do with actually covering CES: Why Engadget hosts gadget awards, and Mashable throws a big party, and The Verge pimps out its air conditioned trailer. Simply put, in many cases, these thousands of journalists aren’t here to see. They’re here to be seen.
[image via thinkstock]