SXSW 2014 Wrap: Shadow marketing, 4D VR, Secret Social, Hacking for Humanity and Intrapreneurs

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SXSW Interactive is over for another year and thousands of marketers, clients, and tech geeks from around the world have had our brains filled with the latest and greatest in technology and human behavior. SXSW has become less about the latest start up tech (i.e: Twitter launching) and more about how marketers can influence behavior today and tomorrow through innovation.

So, here are 5 things I found most interesting at SXSW this year:

1.      Shadow Marketing: Data, security and privacy goes mainstream

As expected there was a big focus on data and privacy as we live in an era of technological transparency and big data in every marketing presentation. Interestingly, keynotes by Julian Assange and whistleblower Ed Snowden were the big attractions of the festival, not the CEO’s of tech companies.  Rather than the tech side of things, the conversations were around the shadows behind the technology and how we can use the immense data stream, tracking info to actually benefit mankind. Let’s call it ‘Shadow marketing’. People are acutely aware of the data being stored about their lives, so marketers need to be transparent about what info they have on people, making them feel secure about it whilst also adding genuine value to their lives, not flogging endless cross sells.

2.      4D Virtual Reality: The future of brand experiences

The big tech hit of SXSW this year was 4D Virtual reality software from Oculus Rift. Whilst, VR is not new, we may be finally coming to the point where marketers can genuinely use it to deliver hyper real brand experiences and interactive stories. HBO created a ‘Game of Thrones’ 4D Exhibit using Oculus Rift to showcase the new series, letting cast member Maisie Williams (Arya Stark) experience the mind blowing reality of it.  Watch it here:

 3.      Ssshhh: Secret social the antidote to the selfie obsessed

Finally, we may be seeing a counter trend against to the selfie-obsessed trend as people become more protective of their digital footprint. Perhaps we’ll be seeing a backlash to the selfie saturated social platforms and a growth in ‘secret social’ apps like Whisper and Secret. Their goal is to bring anonymity back to social. They’re both offering the ability to connect to anyone, anywhere, about anything without the fear of being judged. The big debate was around trolling and the impact that had on the overall welfare on the digiverse. Whisper CEO, Michael Heyward suggested ‘Whisper is the safest place on the web, we have a strict policy here anonymity is used to protect yourself, not hurt others’. Time will tell on this one.

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4.      Hacking for Humanity: emerging markets embracing hacking culture

Last year hacking was a key part of SXSW conversation and this year it popped up again but in a different guise. This year the conversation was around ‘Hacking for Humanity’ – tacking something and rewiring/rebuilding it to push us forward as a species. Interestingly, the best examples of this were not out of the USA or Europe but out of developing markets in Asia. Oxfam’s Pink Phone project in Cambodia was a shining example, whereby rural women were given old mobile phones providing them with access to farming information to help their livelihoods. We’re also seen phone hacking for good, as textbooks are delivered on phones in African nations.

 5.      Intrapreneurs the key to engaging Millennial workers

My favourite keynote was Pete Cashmore from Mashable talking about how to motivate Millennials in his ‘Y bother’ forum. By 2025, 80% of western workforces will be Gen Y, this is relevant for us all. We all know and have heard the discourse around Millennial expectations of management positions within 2 years of leaving uni, well here’s why. Millennials have grown up in a world where the tech has changed at warp speed, this is the real time generation. Social media platforms have democratised virtually every industry, giving everyone an equal voice. The key to maximising Millennial performance in the workforce is to empower them as INTRAPRENEURS – where they can be entrepreneurial within the business, making change in real time within flatter organisations structures.  Millenials have become wired to expect real time feedback. Annual Reviews are dead. Work and play is seen as one, Intrapreneurs want to go hard at both. Which is a great metaphor for the vibe at SXSW – a healthy dose of sucking up knowledge during the day and partying hard at night.

Perhaps the coolest thing at SXSW, was all the geeky gamers talking about the documentary series  ‘Dumping The Alien: Unearthing The Atari Graveyard’ where filmmakers are going to Area 51 in Mexico to try and find the 3million allegedly buried copies of the Atari Game ET ‘Extra Terrestrial’ – widely known as the worst video game ever. Watch the backstory here.

Another SXSW done, as people in Austin say: Stay Weird.

 

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Overheard at SXSW 2014: 30 Interesting & Influential quotes

 

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 Here’s a little piece I put together earlier in the week for B&T, capturing 30 interesting & influential quotes from around the grounds at SXSW covering an array of topics. 

Once again the Twitterverse has gone into a tail spin as we all look to the latest trends and digital innovations coming out of SXSW Interactive festival in Austin Texas.  

There have been hundreds of speeches over the first three days, and I learned from last year’s experience that it’s impossible to visit or track every interesting keynote or speech. So I’ve attempted to capture the most interesting and potentially influential Tweets of the festival so far to give you a sense of what marketers are getting excited about. From 3D trending cookies, automation, the meaning economy, taser drones, wearable tech, girlpower, messy ideas – there’s lots of interesting perspectives flooding the Twitter stream right now.

1.    ‘Chaotic Moons taser drone delivers 80,000 volts of paralyzing power.’ @Mashable

2.     “At the Oreo Trending Vending Lounge we’re connecting trending moments to the Oreo cookie itself in real time and in real life .”  Bonin Bough,  Mondelez

3.    ‘One of the best ways to achieve justice is to expose injustice’. Julian Assange

4.    “Brands need to move their social media from always on to always relevant.’ @richardting R/GA

5.     ‘Creativity is not about keeping clean, it’s about getting in trouble’ @jeffreytambor, Actor

6.     ‘The ability of an entrepreneur to be a good storyteller is critical to their company’s success’ @BenHorowitz, Author ‘The Hard thing about Things’

7.    ’30 years ago it took 30 years to build a brand.  Now it can be almost overnight.’ Ben Lerer, Thrillist

8.    ‘Brands are grappling with privacy. They’re figuring out what’s cool vs. what’s creepy and how to not cross that line.’ @AnnMack JWT

9.    ‘Only 6% of CEOs for startups are women. We are taught early on, that being the boss isn’t very attractive. Join in the fight to disrupt the ‘pink aisle.’ Lyndsey Shepard, GirlPower

10. ‘Participation, Exclusivity and Authenticity are the 3 Characteristics of Successful Design.”  @DBonner, Razorfish

11. “People don’t experience technology. They experience products, spaces, usually one at the time.’  @rodrigoATCG, IDEO

12. ‘The shift in wearable tech: from “connected body” to “engaged humans” – start to understand what motivate users.’ Francois Grouiller, Fred & Farid

13. “Self tracking must feed our intuition, not replace it.” Ben Essen, Iris Worldwide

14. ‘We create 838 miles worth of digital content every 10 minutes.’ Mary Snauffer

15. ‘In the automated world, income will go up for people who work with computers and robots, and down for others.’ Eric Schmidt, Google

16. ‘The more autocratic the country, the more online identities the citizens have.’ David Caygill, Iris Worldwide

17.  “The better the tools one uses, the further you can get.” Stephen Wolfram

18. “Your audience now has their own audience. “Sandra Zuckerburg, Facebook

19. “We were ready to take a risk. It worked.”  Dana Brunelli, House of Cards producer

20. “If you can’t post a picture of it, it didn’t happen” Sam Huston, Jumptank

21. “We forget that our writing systems all started as pictures.” Ben Zimmer, vocabulary.com

22. “Fonts exist to add emotional context to written words.” Ben Zimmer, vocabulary.com

23. “Progressive companies are the ones who say: This journey is 1% finished” Maria Giudice, Rise of the DEO: Leadership by Design

24. “Good ideas are messy.” Maria Giudice, Rise of the DEO: Leadership by Design

25. “The next frontier is to make asynchronous communication as seamless as real time conversations.” Stephen Kim, Microsoft / Skype

26. “We have a universal need to be in the places and times that we can’t be in.” Stephen Kim, Microsoft / Skype

27. “Persuasive design aligns your desired outcome with the user’s interest.” Matt Dana, Fullscreen

28. ‘Better to be fired than to create something boring.’ Mike Germano, Carrot

29. ‘Our perception of time is altered by how much new and unusual things we’re experiencing.’  Matt Danzico, BBC

30. ‘Best #iBeacon experiences are those that go back to basics and do Marketing as a Service: Push a Service, not a message.’ Mette Stuhr, Carlsberg

SXSW Day 3 highlights: Talking Shoes, feedforward tech and being tip of tongue

Jetlag subsided, now it’s just a case of dealing with hangovers from 6th Street parties, Tex Mex overload and power chord rage as 70,000 people fight to keep the energy bars of their laptops, mobiles and tablets full charged. I’m surprised the lights are still on in the city to be honest.  Day 3 at SXSW was intense; I managed to attend quite a few presentations, some pretty awesome, some quite disappointing.

Here are my highlights from Day 3:

Wearable tech goes motivational: Google’s Talking Shoe

I’ve been waiting for a jaw-dropping piece of tech to brag about on my Facebook wall. Look no further, it’s Google’s Talking shoe, in collaboration with adidas. It’s an experiment to show how wearable tech can tell inspiring stories for people via the web, and to flog its new advertising platform called Art, Copy and Code. It’s tech with a bit of personality e.g.: if you’re running fast it cheers you on.  Using a small computer, accelerometer, pressure sensor, a gyroscope and Bluetooth the kicks tell the person wearing them what they are doing (or aren’t doing) and can relay that information to their smartphone via a speaker in the tongue of the shoe. Another example of wearable technology being somewhat seamlessly introduced into our lives.

Check out this hype vid.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VcaSwxbRkcE

From Feedback to Feedforward technology

Interesting, yet very academic session called ‘Behaviour Change as Value Proposition’ by Chris Robson explored into the role technology plays in driving behavior change. Obviously a massively diverse topic, but much of the conversation the last few years has been around ‘Feedback’ sensors such as RFID tags and GPS devices providing valuable input to people and brands. The future is all about ‘Feedforward’ technologies intuitively guiding my next option at the point of decision. Chris’ example of going into Subway and Feedforward geo location tech being able to help you decide between cookies or a 12 inch sub by providing calorie info on your mobile in real time.  Google Now is a great example of a Feedforward utility proving real time answer almost preempting a consumer need. Shopper marketers take note as new opportunities emerge to provide intuitive value exchange at the point of purchase that’s.

Top of mind means tip of tongue

Everyone here at a SXSW will claim they’re a bit of a social media guru and know the secret recipe for creating sticky and shareable content. You gotta call BS on a fair few of them. Was refreshing to listen to a Wharton Professor, Jonah Berger talk about his latest book ‘Contagious: why things catch on’ covering the 6 psychological principles for why people share. Sounds obvious, but marketers should focus on the psychology not technology of sharing. Jonah quoted the fact that only 7% of WOM happens online and wanted the word ‘Influencers’ banned, as there was no empirical proof of influencer impact on decision making over the long term. Marketers should focus on the message not the messenger. I’m rather skeptical of this influencer bashing as I’ve seen Influencer strategy work extremely well to increase both reach and engagement, surely all people aren’t created equal in their ability to influence others right?

So the key to contagion or ‘acts of circulation’ as network guru Henry Jenkins calls it?

Making audiences feel like insiders, sharing a secret is key to Social Currency. It’s the first of several “STEPPS” that also include Triggers, Emotion, Public, Practical Value, and Stories, which, if incorporated, can make any product or idea contagious.

Secondly, if something is ‘top of mind, it’s tip of tongue’. Referring to the need for brands to create trigger cues such as contextual names; Meow Mix cat food, natural associations e.g.: Peanut AND Jelly. Rebecca Black’s appalling YouTube Sensation ‘It’s Friday’ has continued to drive mass views on Fridays due to it’s title and contextual trigger of the word Friday.

Unsurprisingly, high arousal emotions drive people to share: humour, anger, fear, and sympathy. Brands need to create what he calls ‘Trojan Horses’, brand assets that could only be from your brand.  “Trojan Horses carry something along for the ride – the message a brand wants to get across in the middle’.

Fortune favours the Networked Mind

The last talk of the day, ‘The New Serendipity’ had some gold dust in it in regards to brands thinking about innovation. Having a beginners mind, reaching out like a child to meet new friends, learn new things and stop looking in the same places is the key to innovation. It’s kind of like a mantra for SXSW, you’ll come across more innovation in the queues talking to random people you meet. I’ll leave you with this John Perry Barlow wisdom bomb ‘Fortune favours the networked mind’.

So Yes, Google stole the show today with their Talking Shoe, but I did leave the conference inspired and looking for my moment of serendipity.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 2 SXSW 2013 Highlights: Peepculture, Digifrenia & Hacksessions

As I boarded the 26hr flight from Sydney to Austin on Thursday I promised my fellow Aussie SXSW’westers that I’d avoid reporting on buzzwords in my daily B&T posts. It’s Day 2 and I’m about to break that promise. Sorry guys.

SXSW really kicked into gear today, heavyweights like Al Gore hit the keynote stage, but it was actually the smaller presentations that were worth the painful queues.

OK, three thoughts to take out of today: Hacksessions are the new brainstorms, Peepculture not pop culture is where youth are at and brands needing to Design for Digifrenia. Bare with me as I explain.

Hacksessions are the new brainstorms

First off this morning was a fascinating panel talk called ‘Can u hack it’ by Big Spaceship, covering how digital agencies are now tapping into Hacker culture to come up with new ideas/services to business problems. It’s rapid real time prototyping of ideas that break the status quo system. The big question of the session was the difference between 24hr Hacksessions and brainstorms.  The key difference between a Hacksession and a brainstorm is that the former is absolutely focused on the ‘making of something real via rapid prototyping’, rather than abstract thinking on post it notes. Big Spaceship for one, are using Hacksessions as their chemistry sessions in new business pitches. Rather than spend $20k+ and loads of strategy/ creative time, they’ll go into a client for a day and run a Hacksession with a client, taking a team of multi discipline thinkers; coders, designers, strategists to crack a problem. Agencies running 24hr Hackathons for clients with low budgets has also been extremely valuable for making lean budgets work harder. Even Al Gore, in his ‘The Future’ speech said ‘Our (USA) democracy has been hacked’ referring to role of big business in hacking the system. Marketers bring The Hack into your business (it’s not just for geeks) for rapid business problem solving, banish the brainstorm.

From Pop Culture to Peep Culture

My passion for youth marketing and ways brands can connect with digital natives led me to the session on ‘How Peepculture hacked your brain’. Despite being viewed as the ‘Connected’ generation (or GenC as I like to call them), Gen Y and Millennial today are social beings living in a time of ridiculous alienation as ‘checking’ has replaced ‘connecting’. The social revolution has led a shift from pop culture to peep culture, where entertainment is far less scripted and young people are more obsessed with the everyday happenings of their friends entertaining them. Social media is selfish, youth share for themselves, whether it’s for self-expression or self-searching. Yes, it can be overbearing and narcisstic, but every generation has needed self-expression. This one just looks more inward. The other myth that was busted is the thought that young people act willy nilly when it comes to their privacy. Actually, in an era of digital freedom young people crave control of their digitally identities more than ever they just assess the social context very differently to Gen X’ers and Boomers. Brands wanting to connect in ‘Peep Culture’ need to determine the ‘what, how and why’ their audience share in the digital space in order to unlock ways to get their brand in that conversation.

Designing for Digifrenia

Digifrenia was a concept introduced by media theorist Douglas Rushkoff today. Digifrenia or as I Like to call it ‘digitally divided identities’ are being created by all of us. They’re the multiple virtual accounts (on Twitter, Instagram and other platforms) people are created to sustain anonymity and avoid being judged. It’s a phenom that has been rising to the surface these past months as the plethora of connected social platforms we all belong to, put pressure on how we connect with the world. Marketers need to design brand experiences with digifrenia in mind, ensuring they put special focus on content with  context so the social media selection adds value, not overwhelms.

Ok, enough buzzwords for today. Going to try my luck at one of the many SXSW blatantly brand funded parties here in Austin.

 

 

 

SXSW 2013 Day 1 Highlights

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Just survived Day 1 of South by Southwest (SXSW), the annual interactive conference in Austin Texas that’s known for being the Launchpad for all things cool in the digital world like Twitter.

Before I get into the Day 1 highlights, it must be said that this place is absolutely crazy, with 70,000 people expected to be here over the next four days and every second person claiming they’re a ‘social media guru’, I’ve never seen so many people glued to Twitter as they race to share the inspiration. But, I’ve been warned by a few seasoned SXSWesters to keep my wits about me, sniffing out real digital and social innovation from BS can be the biggest challenge with over 5,000 speakers.

Here are my top 3 highlights from Day 1 action:

1. 3D printing is the next Industrial Revolution

 SXSW is known for amazing technology being released. Today Bre Pettis launched the MakerBotDigitizer 3D scanner, which can scan a physical item like a garden gnome and record its precise 3D rendering. Forget printing objects, with his latest invention, Pettis let’s anyone scan and print physical objects in 3D.  We’ve all heard about 3D printing but this innovation brings amazing new possibilities for brands to create highly participatory and personalized experiences for consumers. As Bre states:

“MakerBot is leading the next industrial revolution, and we are empowering everyday people to make stuff””


2. Think Omni Channel marketing, forget the silos

 The world of mobile is always an interesting discussion topic. Australia has a smartphone penetration of almost 65% so I thought I better check out the OMMA session, ‘Is mobile a branding vehicle?’. The answer. Yes.

Brands need to forget the online vs. offline debate, as people have media experiences, not channel ones and mobile devices are the ultimate access point. Consumers are living Omni channel lives so marketers have to stop thinking in media and channel silos (forget buzzwords like SOLOMO) and start ensuring that brand experiences flow seamlessly throughout. Remember, people don’t watch the web, they participate in it and mobile devices facilitate and enhance that. And when planning content for multiple devices think three things: Personal. Adaptable. Social.

 3. Empowering people in the Age of Damage

 Havas Global CEO, David Jones @davidjoneshavas spoke about the ‘Age Of Damage’ where brands like BP have been brought to their knees via social media backlash. Brands need to shift from a focus on profit to a focus on social purpose. Whilst the industrial revolution empowered companies; the social revolution has empowered people with ability to either pull down your brand or build it up. Brands don’t get to dictate their image anymore, so they need to focus on transparency, authenticity and speed in bringing their social good to the world. They also need to shift from mass communication to thinking about how they can leverage a ‘mass of communicators’ to share and advocate their brands. The Rainforest Alliance, an example of a brand that’s done authenticity and storytelling brilliantly.

 

 And to finish off my day, there’s no shortage of fun to be had amongst the digital craziness. Stumbled across this ping-pong tournament happening at the Hilton Hotel set up by Pongrock. I won a few rounds but was no match for a developer from Brooklyn who tells me he ‘lives for code and pong’. Tune in tomorrow or follow me @danpankraz for more digital inspiration from SXSW