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The 23rd annual SXSW Film, Music & Interactive Festival, best known for its diverse sessions, exciting networking events, and wide breadth of special programming, returned this year bringing with it a wide array of people, events, and technology to see. It was incredibly interesting to see what the themes focusing mostly on deep learning, artificial intelligence, and the future of innovative technology would bring. Even President Barack Obama joined in as the opening keynote for SXSW Interactive on Friday, live-streamed from the conference’s Web site.
SXSW allows you to step out of the box and learn something new. It gives you a different perspective on what might seem like a mundane topic. Additionally you get some great facetime with new, existing and potential partners.
This year’s attendees were Ryan McBride (BD), Kailei Nassar (AM) and Melody Gambino (Marketing).
Session Notes from our faves:
Innovative Brands using Data Driven Marketing: J&J, 360i, Theory, Now What
-Tie innovative data use and audience segmentation back to performance, need to address attribution.
-Brands are now using data to create a holistic experience, as opposed to focusing on the campaigns (not only using data to reach their consumer, but knowing their consumer)
-J&J- further focus on segmentation. Not only hitting an audience, but looking to “know” their target consumer and create a highly personalized customer experience
Diversity in Tech: Building Inclusivity: Facebook
-Why is digital diversity important? Culture affects digital media usage, which affects brand perception
-Facebook looking to help bring proximity, opportunity and encouragement to people of all cultures to motivate STEM interest
-Shared new insights on Hispanics (http://insights.fb.com/2014/12/04/digital-diversity-us-hispanics/#more-811)
-Understanding markets are so important – 45% of African Americans, Hispanics and Asian Americans on FB seek to discover branded content on Facebook
-Cultural personlization resonates – Wendy’s ad with pretzel bun big hit with the crowd
-Brands have to reflect the cultural characteristics of digital neighborhoods, as they take on similarities of traditional neighborhoods
-On Facebook, video uploads and FB messenger use are overindexed for African Americans, Hispanics and Asian Americans.
-52% of Hispanic population in US is mobile-only household!!!
-New immigrants often come from mobile only countries
Programmatic Advertising in the Age of CX:
-Connect media activity with performance and further segment while respecting privacy
-Linking reporting to transactions/ attribution
-Scalability- easy to find something that works, not as easy to scale
-Echange Inventory- too much funneling through multiple channels
-Data is too crowded- need tools to tell you exactly what segments are needed and the best way to apply, room for more tech and innovators
-Social- challenges with Facebook and LinkedIn being walled gardens, get great performance for DR campaigns but none of that data is coming back out
–MediaMath– a strategy focused on inventory, need to have more insight in where they are running, beyond data
–Zenith– Need to tie data back to the ROI, there has been a huge focus on big data and audience segmentation, but they are concerned with what is driving bottom line performance as opposed to audience
–HP– has actually been broadening all of their targeting strategies because of all of these challenges
140 Characters, Zero Context: Texas Tribune, Slate, Washington Post, Austin Monitor. This roundtable recounted the challenges and uses when leveraging twitter for publications and in politics, spoke to the moral implications and responsibility of reporting on Twitter. How Twitter has evolved, why it hit a wall, and why it’s a bunch of journalists shouting at each other/testing waters with ideas
Rise of the Social Employee: Hearsay Social
-Social media dates back to postal service, humans craving connection
-Connection is not a luxury, it’s a basic human need that the internet allowed to explode
-2 ppl join LinkedIn every second, using it as a way to transform and build business, not just a resume parkinglot
-Twitter saw brands come slowly and with caution, Oreo and Dell found voices sooner, showing authentic experiences, values, and soliciting feedback
-Empowering employees to be social brand ambassadors may be frightening (not for GS!) memories of Justine Sacco and Taco Bell taco shells conjured
-Employees polled prefer working for companies where executives actively use social media
-Establish and communicate your social policy, use specific scenarios to qualify. Have guardrails and disaster plan in place. Teach execs to respond and listen
-Empower employees to respond to positive and negative feedback. Free their voice. Do not delete the negative. Allow these voices to shape who you are. Creativity wins.
Elephant in the Valley: Vassallo, White House Office of Science and Tech, Laura Weidman Powers, Code2040
-Gender and minority representation in tech, esp Silicon Valley is problematic still
-Results presented of survey – I encourage everyone to take 10 min to read http://elephantinthevalley.com/
-The gist: they surveyed more than 200 women who had at least 10 years of work experience, many of whom are employed at Google, Apple, or other large companies, as well as tech startups. Although they are primarily located in Silicon Valley and the San Francisco Bay area, the range of ages is broad, and 75% have children.
Among their more significant findings about harassment in the workplace:
-90% witnessed sexist behavior at company offsites and/or industry conferences
-60% reported being the target of unwanted sexual advances from a superior
-60% who reported sexual harassment were dissatisfied with the outcome
-One in three say they felt afraid for their personal safety because of work-related circumstances
In addition to the above sessions and more, we toured the many brand houses, who spend likely our entire annual budget a few times over putting on spectacular shows. Some of the highlights were the HP & Delta experiences in the Fast Co. Grill, Samsung’s virtual reality den, Mashable’s everything, and 3M’s renewable resource home.
Mashable– looking to scale their Velocity technology, which forecasts trending content. Potential for co-branded Velocity/ Grapeshot/ Mashable segments, for trending audiences. They were looking into doing this with Rubicon, interested in something more scalable. Follow Ups discussed: NDA, work with Bree on feasibility and technical side
Turn– sounded like their customers have pretty good brand recognition in terms of who we are, said they are bringing us up in pitches, and were interested in understanding more about how we pitch/ present our different partners (them specifically).
Guardian– talked with K.J (Head up west coast sales) and Randy (Chicago sales). Although leveraging us, sales side was not familiar with how we are working with Guardian. Sounds like we are working with back end teams to segment inventory, sales then promoting tailored channels
Common Themes– virtual reality, brands are exploring how to use it for customer experience, common theme throughout the brand houses/ activations. Twitter, in terms of how brands should leverage it correctly and what some of the moral concerns and implications
Ryan’s notes – All in all, like any conference, I find more value in meetings with the attendees than catching panels. Face time with key prospects/partners is huge. From a BD perspective, it is essential to cultivate relationships and maintain communication for potential partnership opportunities– we did a great job at that. We’ll make our $ back and more. Key partner/prospect meetings:
-Fresh Digital Group
I also enjoyed the TrueX party on Monday, where we caught a surprise, adtech-audience only, performance from one of my favorite bands.
And I met one of my favorite social influencers, and made Melody take a picture of me with him in the background, to commemorate.
Melody’s key takeaways – As usual, social media was an epic tool to flex our muscles amongst the noise. We were frequently the loudest in the room and people took note. The head of PR at NBCU was under the impression we were a sponsor or speaking at SXSW since she saw our name in the twitter feed so often. Kailei sent her first tweet, the rise of the social employee :).
Several programmatic and data-related bombshells were dropped in sessions and announcements at SXSW. In the past few years, the event has taken some criticism- that it’s too broad, or irrelevant, that it’s lost its way and there is no ad tech audience anymore. I think this year the content found its way – these were my fave news stories with respect to programmatic, data, cross-channel marketing, ad blocking etc.
Forbes unveiled findings from an ad-blocking survey which were enlightening. 36% said they use ad-blocking because all ads are annoying (ahem, we aim to change that). Malware was the 2nd most popular reason to use, and privacy the 3rd. More info here – (http://www.forbes.com/sites/lewisdvorkin/2016/03/14/inside-forbes-we-had-a-few-surprises-for-sxsw-deep-in-the-heart-of-ad-blocking/#4a95dfd738f9)
BuzzFeed unveiled Swarm, the new ad format for when you want to create “mass awareness—an event.” Not to be confused with the fledgeling but still active Swarm by Foursquare. Swarm lets advertisers launch a campaign across BuzzFeed’s Facebook, Snapchat Discover, YouTube, Vine, Instagram and Tumblr accounts. For those wondering how a campaign can be measured on those platforms, BuzzFeed CMO Frank Cooper said the company is layering third-party measurement to see what audiences are doing on other platforms.
AdBlock Plus gave a cryptic hint of a new revenue model for publishers. Ben Williams, head of operations at Adblock Plus, said during an OMMA @ SXSW panel that there may be “another way to fund publishing.” He added, “We’ve been working on other things” and “I think there are other ways you can monetize.” What could it be? Perhaps users will fund the content they like.
Gnack introduced its platform that plans on taking influencer buying programmatic. The Austin-based startup claims it can measure Snapchat influencer campaigns–answering all those marketer pleas for more data behind the ephemeral social media platform. Brands can find influencers for campaigns based on followers, interests or locations, Adweek reported.
President Obama called on the tech community to come through for U.S. government on the Apple/FBI case. The president gave a keynote at SXSW Interactive, touching on the ongoing Apple and FBI encryption feud. “This notion that somehow our data is different and can be walled off from those other tradeoffs we make, I believe is incorrect,” he said.
The New York Times bought a social influencer platform called HelloSociety. NYT CEO Mark Thompson told Ad Age that its latest acquisition–the first one in his three and a half years as CEO–is an important piece in the company’s branded content business. “Innovative and non-standard forms of distribution” and effective use of social media are both client priorities, he said. The platform claims its influencer-created content performs an average of 77% better than content produced by brands themselves.
One of my fave personal moments was seeing Willie Nelson at the Spotify House
And hanging out with media friends at random weird Austin dive bars like my friend Meredith at Slate
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