SXSW Interactive 2018: Review
After a week of endless BBQ, tech panels, exhibitions and MORE, you’re probably wondering how you're going to digest and summarize all things SXSW. From hot topics that surfaced, to the most epic activations on the ground, our team was in Austin experiencing it all. Here is the TL;DR version of some of our key takeaways from SXSW Interactive 2018:
Building an audience, means looking beyond reach: The golden question that kept coming up for brands at this year's Brand Innovators Summit was: how to do more, with less? With new platforms emerging in the marketplace; but budgets still remaining the same - how can brands move the needle to truly engage their fans? The industry is finally beginning to realize that campaigns are more than just about basic 'reach'. In fact, brands such as COTY remark that reach is not a core KPI, but simply a criteria for a campaign. Instead brands should focus on unique ways to integrate their brand amongst powerful communities as a way to help drive engagement and interaction with their brand.
Authenticity in Content: In a world where we're exposed to things like fake news, it's no surprise that we are becoming more skeptical about trusting what brands say. Now, more than ever, brands need to be authentic in how they communicate their brand to their audiences. Junkin Media said it best, "the future of storytelling lies in UGC, where authenticity is about real people with real emotions." Your fans will see through the artificial "being sold to" or "being insincere", so connecting with them through meaningful content experiences that are genuine and honest will help build affinity towards a brand.
XM at its best: Bold, random, mind-blowing or extreme! We've heard it all. Those are typically the words that people use, to describe experiential marketing (XM) activations at SXSW. Year in, year out, brands strive to take over Austin with the craziest or riskiest XM idea yet, not knowing if they'll get their PR ROI. This year was no different. There were several XM wins that truly allowed fans to "live the brand". Fans of HBO's Westworld were blown away by an immersive one-of-a-kind experience that dropped you right into a scene from Sweetwater, the show's fictional setting. Other XM favorites from this year were Under Armour's Sneaker Dome and Headspace's quiet meditation room where attendees could unwind and relax.