SXSW Interactive 2011

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This presentation is a summary of ten themes that made an impact on me at SXSW Interactive in 2011. The contents are broken into two sections: 1). Five themes relevant to marketers 2). Five themes that aren't so relevant but rock. Feel free to contact me.

Transcript of SXSW Interactive 2011

  • 1.SXSWi
    This presentation was shared with BBDO / Proximity in April 2011 at the Digital Lab.
    Its a summary of our experience down in the great city of Austin, Texas over SXSW Interactive in March 2011.
    If you would like a detailed summary of my personal experience check out a series of posts @

2. What is SXSW Interactive?
Appropriately named March Break For Nerds - SXSWi transforms Austin Texas into the epicenter of interactive media, technology and experience.
SXSW Interactive is a five day conference and one of three parts of the SXSW Conference, which includes a music and film component.
3. Why do we go down to Austin?
The main reason is rooted in the fact that digital is ubiquitous.The digital world is no longer restricted to computers as it now permeates all aspects of our lives.
Specifically, SXSW helps marketers understand how:

  • How people communicate and provides thoughts on future possibilities.

4. How to make the best of emerging technology (not just the flashy stuff). 5. How to built interactive experiences that rock. 6. How to understand culture in this digital world so we can be relevant.SXSW is an incubator of what is to come.SXSW is inspiring and humbling.SXSW rocks.
7. How the SXSWi conference works.
Digital is a broad term that represents a complex world.SXSWi does a good job of taking a multidisciplinary approach at this digital world.Sessions fall into a number of categories including:Design / Business / Marketing / Video games / Technology /
Great stuff happens at the intersection of these disciplines.
SXSW is a lot to take in.There are over 80 sessions a day crammed into six time slots.Attending SXSWi is really a practice in the art of sacrifice.At any one time, there are at least four different topics you want to attend.
Were going to go through ten themes in this presentation that had an impact.
Five are completely relevant to your marketing job and your clients business.Youll be able to use any of these themes and look smart in a meeting this afternoon.
Then well go through five themes that arent so relevant to your job but are pretty awesome.
Lets get into it.
Section 1
Themes from SXSWi that are relevant to your job today.
10. If youve read any summaries of SXSWi you are certainly aware ofgamification as a dominating theme this year.
In short,gamification is the study of the video game experience, specifically the individual mechanism go into a video game.The intention is to understand the design of a video game experience and its ability to drive rich engagement.
By understanding the levers that make video games a rich experience, one can apply these behavioural levers to interactive experiences that arent video games.
11. The idea ofgamification is nothing new.
American Express has been using game mechanics for as long as I can remember. Think of the different levels of status that come with AE cards from Gold to Black. Well thats a game mechanic.
12. A contemporary example that gets a lot of credit for adopting game mechanics is Foursquare.
Foursquare was certainly not the first location based service, however, it was able to set itself apart from other location based services by creating a sticky experience with the use of points and badges.In other words, the gamification of location based services set Foursquare apart from the competition.
Interestingly, Dennis Crowley from Foursquare suggested that people shouldnt think of the service as a game.Hm.m, if you want more information do a search.
13. So why do we care?
Well grasshopper, the answer lies a video games ability to create very immersive experiences.People spend a terrifying amount of hours playing video games and for what?The answer doesnt lie in the ask of the game, for example growing the biggest farm (Farmville) or killing all the pigs (Angry birds).The answer rather lies in the mechanics or design of the video game experience.In other words, its not the end but the means.
Given marketing is no longer about what brands say, brands are now focused on doing and that doing includes creating experiences.And its not enough to just create an experience, brands need create amazing experiences.Gamification helps achieve that goal.
14. Heres a brand (albeit shallow) example of gamification mechanics used by Molson.It pretty much adopts the same strategy as Foursquare and I wouldnt be surprised if the Molson idea was a direct lift from the location based service.
In short, Molson had badges aligned with seizing the summer.You did something like have a campfire and youd get a badge for it.The idea is that people would want to collect all the badges and let their respective networks know when they achieved any of them.
Check out the video if youd like more details.
15. Video game mechanics can be applied to any form of experience.
Seth Priebatsch from SCVNGR explained how the education system could be designed with game mechanics to encourage participation and engagement.
You can learn more about his presentation by going onto the SXSW website.A majorityof the sessions are recorded.
16. Heres an example of another form of game mechanic.You can see how this mechanic could be applied to any experience.Pretty straight forwards huh?
You can find a massive list of game mechanics by doing a search query for SCVNGR GAME MECHANICS.
17. 18. Theres no such thing as above and below the line.Marketers, we need to get over this imaginary divide. Content does not live in isolation.We can no longer think in silos.
As long as you are able to connect to the Internet, mobile devices provide a digital layer over everything.
19. One thing marketers should note is that television is not dead.
Now the race is on to see who can augment and enhance the TV viewing experience.
Ask yourself, how can online data and interactivity bring the television viewing experience to the next level?What will a social overlay look like and whats the experience?How can narratives expand through digital channels?How could gaming change engagement with the television medium?
20. The History Channel isnt crazy.They understand no barrier exists between the digital world and the real world which is why they developed a presence on Foursquare that realizes the potential of data ubiquity.
By being friends with the History Channel on Foursquare, a user is able to receive interesting historical facts specific to their check in location.
This seems like a no brainer and a perfect fit for the brand.Notice howHistory Channel isnt pitching anything?
21. American Express also did a good job on Foursquare.
As people check in to different locations, AMEX offers exclusive deals based on particular check in locations.Once again, you have to be friends with AMEX to receive this information.
For example, I could check into Stubbs BBQ and because Im friends with AMEX, I might receive at 2 for 1 coupon that I wouldnt have otherwise known about.
Simple value.
22. The ubiquity of data is not limited to geographic locations or mobile devices.
Inanimate objects are increasingly connected to the cloud.For example, this refrigerator can bring up recipes, call your friend or order milk.
The point you need to take away is that everything that surrounds you, everything that you touch, will somehow be connected to digital data and services.
Now think about what you could do with everything from a pencil to a branded experience.
23. This should scare the shit out of you if you are a marketer.
Traditionally, our job has been to get in between people and their content. This was true during the period of traditional media and people are applying the old rules to our contemporary media environment.
24. Its time to ask yourself: are you leeching off the Internet or are you contributing to it?
If you are still supporting pre-rolls, you are getting in between people and the content they want to enjoy.Not only are people not listening to your message, your tactics garner no credibility and likely solicit frustration.Its time to get our of the way and start thinking as a publisher.What content or experiences are you creating that people actually want to enjoy?
25. If we think of ourselves as publishers then we must ask ourselves what content and which experiences are relevant to our audience?
Take for example, The Creators Project by Intel and Vice. In short, this project celebrates creativity and provides a number of resources for artists.Its a winner because Intel is able to communicate their values & pitch product while bringing something of value to their audience.
If purchased media space disappeared today, how would you be relevant?
26. Heres another example of marketing that creates value while acting like a publisher.
Coca Cola partnered with Maroon 5 to create a 24 hours experience that consisted of writing a crowdsourced song with band.
Theres no doubt that this experience is brought to your by a big bad brand but the marketing ultimately creates a mutually beneficial relationship for the brand and the audience.
27. The online space is moving away from social based graphs and towards interests based graphs.
In other words, connections online are being created based on what interests us as opposed to who we know in the real world.
Although social graphs will continue to be important, we expect to see a proliferation of services that connect people on their interests.
28. Lists on Twitter is one way to look at this trend but its just the beginning.Beluga, Group Me and Foursquare are contributing to this transformation and th