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 Interactive 2013 Summary: 7 key themes that matter to marketers

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Trying to synthesise hundreds of SXSW sessions into a handful of key takeouts accurately reflecting the current digital zeitgeist is a little challenging. Based on my experiences I’ve pulled out what I believe are some of the most relevant themes for brands looking to leverage digital today and tomorrow.

1. Hardware is Hot

Hardware is hot right now. The innovation race is centred around how developers and brands can bring game changing hardware to market, cheaply. From affordable 3D printing like MakerBot’s 3D Digitizer, Ouya’s Android’s TV gaming console to Google’s Talking Shoe and Augment Reality Glass concept.

2. Physicalisation of Digital Experiences (Tangible Keepsakes)

In a world where digital innovation has rapidly been occurring over the past decade, dematerialisation has taken place as physical items have been movedinto the ever elusive cloud.  However, while we as humans appreciate the benefits and advancements of digital technology, we’re now beginning to see a return towards tangible goods using the very same digital technology that has helped remove them from our lives. There’s a big opportunity for brands who are able to converge the two if they’re able to create products that link the emotions we attach to items in the digital space to the physical forefront. Stitchtagram a perfect example of this trend.

3. Humans as the New Interface

The future of design will use the Human body as the ultimate interface. As we struggle to cram more stuff on our screens, the real innovation is happening in or around the human body. Whether it’s intuitive gesture based tech like Leap Motion, programmable clothing or embedded technology actually in our skins, brands gazing into the future will be designing brand experiences in or around the body.

4. Think Psychology before Technology

It’s an obvious one, but brands wanting to create circulation (‘viral’ has officially been blacklisted)of their ideas or content need to start with the psychology of why people use or share a service or idea, not with the platform or technology. It goes back to basic needstate driven marketing, but is so important in a world where we’re screening out non useful tech.

5. Hack your brand

Hacking your brand by opening up your API to crowdsourced development and iteration is not a new concept in the USA. But for Aussie marketers it may come across as a destructive concept, it’s actually extremely constructive if done well. It’s about opening up your brand. 2013 will be the year where 24hr Hacksessions and real time creativity become more mainstream and marketers look to agency partners to deliver solutions (particularly NPD) to big problems quickly.

6. Feedforward not feedback technology

In today’s world of big data, we have the ability to create immediate feedback based on real time data. Think RFID sensors, NFC.  When people understand what they’ve just done, it influences their next decision. Marketers need to leverage Feed Forward technology; guiding consumers to make better decisions by providing the right info at the right time in the right context, intuitively.

7. Always On = Always Now

In our latest global study, Planet Hyperconnected we saw an emerging cultural trend that the ability to be always on and digitally connected wasdriven by a desire to always be IN the moment.  Here at SXSW, this theory was proved further as speakers such as Chris Risdon’s “Behavioral Change as a Value Proposition” and eBay’s Steve Yankovich talked about how in this constant era of connectivity brands need to capitalise on people’s motivation in the moment.

That’s my wrap for SXSW 2013, looking forward to resting my brain after the last intense yet stimulating five days and seeing if 3D printing goes nuts in Australia.

SXSW Day 4: Sharing Hate, slow content, living data, embedded tech and tangible keepsakes

SXSW Interactive day 4 was about getting in touch with my geeky side. I wanted to spend some time today attending sessions and exhibits from way out there tech futurists and try and get a glimpse of what’s around the corner. I also wanted to see if there were some digital counter trends to balance the 600,000 mentions in social media of the word ‘Innovate’ so far during the conference.

Here are my Day 4 SXSW Interactive 2013 highlights:

Forget ‘Liking it’, ‘Hate it’

Sometimes things just annoy the hell out of you and you want to share it with the world. Now there’s an app for that.  The most buzzed about app of Day 4 was an app called Hater where you can share what you hate on social networks. It’s like Instagram for everything you hate.  Watch out duck face selfie’s, celebs and politicians this could be a hit.

Slow Content in a Hyper-connected world

In today’s hyper-connected world where everyone is seeking an always now existence, brands are looking to deliver real time snackable content to cater for our ever diminishing attention spans. Today Margot Bloomstein offered a counter trend with her  ‘content strategy for slow experiences’ session.

Slow content aims to slow down users, focus their attention, get them exploring whilst helping them act more deliberately in the moment. It’s not a content approach for every brand, but it’s perfect for those looking to create a deeper brand narrative and genuinely invite consumers in. Patagonia creates slow content experiences, delivering deep long form content, rich copy, rich in detail with total transparency – the good and the bad.

Unlike Amazon-type etailers where speed through checkout is the goal, slow content helps the customer make the right choice, not just a choice. Ikea is doing this really well. Brands looking to demonstrate their passion and purpose should think about a slow content approach.

Living Data predicting the future

We all seem to agree that big data is sexy, if used the right way it can solve many of the world’s problems.  Filtering the signal from the noise is the big challenge for marketers. Futurist Bryon Reese’ ‘Algorithms optimize Human existence’ session went into fascinating (although somewhat scary) detail about the potential for using big data and tech to improve the quality of life.

We’re headed to a world where everything we do (behaviour, speech, thoughts) will be digitally recorded (and perfectly remembered), creating a digital record of your life. But more than the record, the data can be analysed, collecting every cause and effect and developing solutions.  Surveillance state you say? Maybe.

Reese believes “Everybody’s life will become action and data to make others’ lives better“. Significant stuff.

The brands of tomorrow need to look at how they can use, what I call, Living Data to identify patterns and then deliver utility that help people help each other.

Embedded technology making Humans the new interface

As digital devices get smaller they will get more embedded into our lives, literally. A session called ‘The Human Body is the next interface’ explored the future reality whereby embedding micro machines inside the human body will happen.

Pharma and healthcare industries could be the most innovative marketers in the world in the next few years. He referenced several fascinating scenarios. Imagine a baby in a cot, with the blanket containing embedded Nano tech. The blanket senses skin temp, alpha waves, pulse and other vitals, the blanket then releases medicine for baby based on signals from embedded tech. Closer on the horizon are bras that detect signs of breast cancer.

It’s not all life saving preventative tech though.  Programmable clothing is not as far away as you might think. French brand Lacoste recently celebrated their 80yr anniversary with this ‘Future of Polo’ programmable clothing piece. Pretty cool possibilities.

Forget Minority Report type stuff. The Human body is the next interface.

Tangible Keepsakes born from a digital world

Brands can get obsessed with creating digital stuff, as we’re constantly told that’s where and how people live. ‘Embracing Analog’ a session run by Ann Mack, Paul Woolmington and Frank Rose offered an alternative point of view. Their research into the current digital need states of Americans, from Millennials to the Grey market, identified that people are craving sensory appeal in a digital world. Woolmington states; “We want something to have and hold – we crave the tactile and like to ignite the senses.”

It would seem people today miss memories in a physical form. Interestingly, 73% of Americans want to turn digital memories into physical ones.  People are wanting “tangible keepsakes” from their digi experiences. They want to preserve things that have emotional value to them.  Brands like Stitchtagram who turn Instagram pics into handmade pillows and bags are all over this trend. Brands need to think about how they create branded memories that exist both digitally and physically.

So, one more day of digital love, Tacos, start up tech parties and speeches before the 25hr journey home.

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