Every movement begins with a moment.

SXSW 2014: Wrapup

Posted 17 March 2014 3:30 PM by Ann Masters

This year’s SXSW Interactive, as a microcosm of what’s occurring in the tech world at large, was full of stunning insights into cutting-edge technological advances and ideas. It was also full of Moxie. So we asked our experts to weigh in on all the exciting and emerging trends they saw in Austin.


Heather Carson
Director of Analytics

More Data = Less Privacy
Practically every SXSW session I attended included several quips about the NSA and numerous admonitions to developers regarding the collection of consumer data. So pull out your tin foil hats and head for the basement, because location-based data can be collected passively. Don’t believe me? Download the application “Creepy,” which stalks Twitter, Foursquare and Flickr users by aggregating GPS data. As Lifehacker puts it, “If you've ever doubted how much anyone could track you based on information embedded in geolocation services like Foursquare, Twitter and Flickr, free app Creepy will show you by aggregating GPS coordinates for any user, pointing out their most frequented hangouts on a map.”

If that’s not enough to make a “Minority Report” reality seem not-too-distant, both Julian Assange and Glenn Greenwald hosted sessions with a speaker whose celebrity led SXSW attendees to wait hours in line and pack six ballrooms to capacity. That speaker? Edward Snowden — via Keynote, from Russia. Virtually.

Track that.

Matt Schneider
Associate Media Director

For Media/Advertising, the Buzzword Was Content
As stated in the panel “Entertainment Marketing in the Age of the Superfan,” “It’s not brand marketing anymore; it’s content marketing.” Today’s media world is extremely cluttered, and “marketing” messaging is eschewed by today’s youth. So allow them to be your ambassadors. Give them content and observe what happens — learn why they share what they share. Equipped with these insights, you can get your content in front of the right people.

Chris Bailey
Sr. Art Director

The Digitally Connected Human
For me, the theme that permeated Austin was the drive to make humans as digitally connected as possible. By that I mean using data and devices to digitally connect us to our world, our clothing and even our own bodies. Wearable technology, or “wearables,” continues to be a big area of focus, and we are starting to see consumer-ready technology with implications in a wide range of areas: lifestyle, health and sports — just to name a few. And while the tech part is cool (I mean really cool), the data that will come from all of this technology is even more important. How will we collect it, keep it safe and use it? As marketers, it will be key to tap into this information in a way that is helpful to our consumers without being invasive.

Dustin Thompson
Director, Social Media

The “Scandal” Effect
I sat in on Culturalist’s panel, "Beyond Likes: What I Love and Hate and Why You Care." In this session, Jordan Roth and Anna Deavere Smith talked about the top 10 ways to go beyond Facebook likes to create true engagement. One of the topics on the list was “Scandal.” The popular ABC TV drama has fully embraced Twitter and engaged with the audience. While the actors themselves take to Twitter to interact with fans, the real win is that the show has integrated on-screen hashtags — cues for engagement baked right into the work. Not second screen but first screen. The true beauty is that you don't have to watch the show to get it. But you want to. You want to be part of the whole experience. The show’s content, including its jokes, works for Twitter. Through Twitter, the audience is creating content for the audience. As the Buggles once sung, “Video Killed the Radio Star.” But in some ways, Twitter is saving TV.  Could there be a completely tweeted experience — half improvised, half scripted? One where the audience is the co-creator? We've been handed the microphone via social, my friends. It's time to take the stage.

Shannon Smith

Digital to Physical: Wearable Connected Technology
The most commonly used phrase at SXSW this year was "The Internet of Things" — a leading indicator that wearable, connected technology (aka “wearables”) is a reality. Most physical products that were demonstrated can be highly associated with the "gadget" mentality. However, some showed strong promise for how we will be moving away from desktop computers to tangible, connected objects. Companies from every industry offered their own twists on how their brands could exist parallel to a website. 

In an article for Adweek, Mobile marketing expert Michael Becker said it best: "Brands need to enable wearable devices to integrate with their capabilities. The key for brands is to think like platforms and open their specialized data to developers who can build for the increasingly mobile and hands-free world."

Developer Digest: From one techie to another, to build new things we need to stay on top of what is possible and then think beyond that. Google, for example, is rumored to be working on an SDK for wearables. With the limited number of devices that we currently build for, we need to broaden our thinking. What other technologies can be used and where we can expand as a development team? Most industry leaders agree that what we really need is an open API — one everyone can use. When this happens, the wearables trend will really take off. 





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