By Tom Bannister
While CES is a great cross section of consumer products trends, SXSW is a sampling of philosophies and ideologies underpinning those trends. (Fascinating that Obama is following in footsteps of Snowden this year.) Here is a breakdown of six key trends across SXSW’s upcoming panels and seminars and how they relate to changes ahead in the branded content game:
Big Data/Internet Of Things/Privacy
The biggest theme of this year, with numerous panels, is the convergence of data, the internet of things (IoT) and the resulting questions in privacy and personal data, reflected in high profile stories like Apple Versus FBI. IoT: A Thousand Touchpoints of Marketing examines a “post media” world “where everything could be ‘the message.’” Transforming the Future: Advertising and the IoT Era and Innovative Brands Using Data-Driven Marketing looks at changing role of marketing in the IoT era. Wearables: The Future Isn’t In Measuring The Past looks at how data can be made more useful to consumers.
How will branded content look in a world where brands have access all personal data? How can informational branded content be useful and additive to product experience? How much will governments and consumers really trust corporations with that data and could one big hack change the game on everybody? Many panels are looking at the ethics behind big data, including Internet of Things: Just Someone Else’s Computer, Is Your Biological Data Safe?, Data Ethics in the Age of the Quantified Society, Naked and Famous: How to Prepare for a Hack, Smartwatch or Spyware? Considering Privacy and IoT. Are we headed to a future where everybody is highly track-able, score-able, targetable? Where all marketing is direct marketing? Gabe Laydon thinks so. SXSW panels are split on the actual, ultimate usefulness of ‘big data’ — An Internet of Junk versus Big Data Will Choose the Next US President or How Data Science Can Help Avoid the Next Recession. Is it all just a pipe dream?
In contrast to recent negative press about ad blocking community (U.K. culture secretary calling it a “protection racket,” the New York Times trying to block your ad blocker), SXSW panels take a more positive view. Economic Realities: Ad Blocking and Consumer Control quotes Doc Searls on blocking as “the largest boycott of anything in human history.” It’s Adblockageddon! How to Survive and Prosper, sees ad blocking as inevitable and looks for opportunities. We’re Not Gonna Take It: Ad Blocking and User Revolt — the title says it all. With a large proportion of current “branded content” being really just relabeled advertising or bland “content,” ad-blocking is going to effect branded content, native, content marketing, etc., if it doesn’t already.
Future Of Sports
A number of panels, look at traditional sports (Content Creation and the Future of Sports TV / Courtside with NBA Commissioner Adam Silver / Going Global: Taking British Sports Brands Abroad), but just as many focus on emerging sports like gaming (ELEAGUE: Esports Goes Mainstream). How All Brands Can Win With Game Advertising will look at in-game advertising formats. The social web has allowed communities and audiences to develop around nontraditional sports. PBR: The Original Extreme Sport Goes Mainstream and How to Reach Consumers via Less Traditional Sports look at bull riding. Apparently, with with three million people attending annually, “pro bull riding has proven itself the fastest growing sport in America.” Whether
it’s traditional or non-traditional, there is a big opportunity for brands to bring audiences to branded sporting content in new ways. Especially since many of the new video technologies (virtual reality, live broadcasting, AR) feel better suited to second screen, rather than main event itself.
Growth Of Amateur/Native Content
You may see them as amateurs or next generation stars, as a temporary by-product of ever-changing zeitgeist or a new generation’s version of The Rolling Stones, but the digital stars and the more personal, less polished and more “authentic” content they produce are the subject of many panels. Modern Brand Love: How to Co-create And Have a POV looks at “content for the people by the people.” The Future of Media Companies looks at personal connections “between fans, friends and cultural groups.” How To Cultivate Online Brand Ambassadors is NASA and Peace Corps’ POV on cause marketing and turning “online audiences into vocal brand advocates.” The Business of Digital Influencers With Mr Kate and So You Want to Partner With A Social Media Star both deal with branded partnerships between digital stars (“influencers”) and big brands, something every brand is seemingly pursuing at the moment.
Mobile Messaging/Micro- Content-Or-Moments
Media followers read a lot about shift to mobile, and SXSW is no different. SXSW panels do a great job in showcasing the range of opportunities, issues and changes that the growth of mobile media engenders. Whether its live broadcasting (Igniting Creativity with Periscope / Brand Stories on Periscope and Meerkat), advertising content on messaging platforms like What’s App (The Rise of WhatsApp as a CRM Tool in Brazil / The Next Multibillion Opp: Marketing in Messaging / How Digital Killed the Recipe), shaping video and content specifically for the mobile screen (Cinematic Apocalypse: Storytelling for Smartphones / Bringing Stories to Life for the Smaller Screen), mobile targeting (Quantum Receptivity: Targeting Mobile Moments Defining the Age of “Smart Places”), upcoming buy buttons on social networks like Instagram (Finding the World’s Most Valuable Instagram Photo) or the potential for a frictionless entertainment-marketing world.
Unsurprisingly, VR also has a big presence on the panels at SXSW. Virtual Reality: Streaming, Discovery and Monetization looks at the opportunities for “immersive storytelling.” Ultimate Empathy Machine: 360 Storytelling in VR and Reality Check: The Business of Cinematic VR examine “a unfortunate stopgap,” due to there being no clear revenue model for traditional entertainment purveyors to crank up their factories. VR reminds me of the dawn of web video, when traditional Hollywood shied away. It will be interesting to see if brands jump in in a meaningful way or whether it will be amateurs on the web or (relative) newcomers to the video game like the New York Times (New York Times Reality Through VR-Tinted Glasses) or even an Amazon or Netflix. Whatever happens, don’t underestimate how creative the man on the street can be when the gate keepers go on holiday.
If you want to find me, I’ll definitely be at 3D Printed Food: Spam or Paté?
This post was penned by VideoInk publishing partner Branded.tv, a one-stop shop for branded entertainment. Branded.tv features and catalogs the best branded entertainment campaigns from around the world.