Seen And Heard At SXSW Interactive

More than 85,000 people from across the globe descended on Austin, Texas, for the 32nd annual South by Southwest Conference. At their ready: more than 5,000 speakers, across 2,200-plus sessions, who made it apparent that it truly takes a cross-functional village to innovate and change the world.

Seen And Heard At SXSW Interactive

by Steven Cook

Posted on 03-19-2018

More than 85,000 people from across the globe descended on Austin, Texas, for the 32nd annual South by Southwest (SXSW) Conference. At their ready: more than 5,000 speakers, across 2,200-plus sessions, who made it apparent that it truly takes a cross-functional village to innovate and change the world.

My focus was on the SXSW Interactive track. I always learn a ton, but this year—my sixth—I wanted to hear what stood out to those around me.

Here is what they shared.

Stories And Experiences

“SXSW 2018 was the year of brand experiences, intentional awareness, and emotional intelligence. Brands that can create experiences to connect with fans, enable serendipity, and lead with high EQs will create lasting, meaningful impressions, and enable word-of-mouth storytelling.”

Adam Leidhecker, Brand Strategist, Coplex

“My SXSW experience can be wrapped up in one word: Westworld, [whose SXSW activation] embodied everything SXSW should be: engaging, interactive, focused on technology, socially conscious, entertaining, and a true convergence of all the ideas that have been staples of SXSW for years.”

Angelique Toschi-LaRue, Content Strategist, Shakey’s USA

“The key theme of SXSWi for me was empathy and ethics in tech, primarily driven by millennial hunger for authenticity and purpose, but also their zero tolerance for bad CX.”

Oisin Lunny, Chief Evangelist, OpenMarket

Emerging Tech

“SXSW covered AI, blockchain, and data. Marketers [need to learn more] about these new technologies and how they will impact marketing. The future of retail for brands and retailers is autonomous.”

Anne Marie Stephen, CEO, Kwolia; Founder, Retail Innovation Lounge

“SXSW looks five-plus years into the future. The best takeaways from a conference of future-looking technologists and business leaders comes from the people who attend the event. Ten years ago this was true with the emerging social media practitioners. Today it is the same for the AI, machine learning, and blockchain movers and shakers.”

Wayne Kurtzman, Research Director, Social and Experiential Solutions, IDC

“Immersive experiences at SXSW clearly show the value that brands are placing on influencers to extend the reach of their marketing efforts, and media brands are leading the charge. Experiences drive buzz and create the desire brands are looking for in today’s cluttered media landscape.”

Brian Rudolph, VP Experience Design, ARKE

Brand Relationships

“I saw a panel titled ‘Why your Marketing is Broke.’ The experts discussed the major issues of generational marketing, brand marketing, and current tactics. The key takeaway is relationships matter. Whether it is a brand-to-consumer or a brand-to-influencer, you need to be authentic to your brand value.”

Elizabeth Quintanilla, Chief Marketing Gunslinger

“Influencer marketing is going from a cool-to-have to a must-have, with brand marketers talking about treating it like a form of media and measuring it like media so they can compare it to other forms of advertising. Likes and views are being replaced by eCPM, eCPV, and eCPE.”

Paul Kontonis, CMO, WHOSAY

Social Good

“It was clear that the concept of social purpose has achieved mainstream and will become table stakes soon. Brands and companies will have to create more value than they try to capture. It will not be able to compete without this weaved into the fabric of their DNA.”

Bruno Guicardi, President, CI&T

“The thing that was most fascinating to me was the number of startups focused on social good and big-world issues. … What they are telling us is that good can come from innovation and tech.”

Chris Valentine, Producer, SXSW Accelerator (Note: I was part of the 2018 SXSW Accelerator Advisory Board; winners were announced on March 11.)

Power Of Diversity

“In the ‘5 Major Generational Shifts & Understanding Gen Z’ presentation, I heard that if you want to create authentic content, you need to have diversity in your marketing team. If your goal is growth, it’s your duty to appeal to the widest audience possible by having a diverse team.”

Naomi Assaraf, Co-Founder, CMO, cloudHQ

“Female empowerment was a major topic of conversation this year, anchored by strong talks like we had from Melinda Gates.”

Hugh Forrest, Chief Programming Officer, SXSW

Mobile Matters

John Maeda’sDesign in Tech Report 2018’ keynote highlighted that ‘time spent on mobile has surged, while time spent on other media has slowly declined, with a staggering 96% of people using a smartphone to get things done.’ Computational design is everywhere.”

Alex Shevelenko, CEO and Founder, RELAYTO

Standing Out

“At SXSW, there was a lot of brand clutter fighting for attention. [To me] the best ideas were the simplest and based on an insight.”

Jim Stengel, Author, “Unleashing the Innovators”

If you’d like to experience SXSW virtually, check out the daily highlight videos and #SXSW thread. You also can listen to recordings of hundreds of sessions.

Topics: Insights & Inspiration, Experience Cloud, Insights Inspiration, Digital Transformation, Marketing, Information Technology, CMO by Adobe

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