Social VR, mHealth and unique customer experiences created around intentional messaging kick off the annual Austin tech fest.
One look at the sweeping sea of gadgets, apps, tech and networking and it’s clear: South by Southwest has officially descended upon Austin. It’s spring break for adults who are eagerly awaiting the next big tech idea or app. Aside from a much-anticipated keynote from President Barack Obama for this year’s Interactive arm of the fest, all eyes have been on watching the latest emerging platforms that offer marketers new opportunities to leverage digital tools and create deeper, more attractive and engaging customer experiences. We’ve rounded up a few topics on the hot list that people just can’t stop talking about both inside and outside of Austin’s Convention Center.
1. Pulse Check. Wearables are nothing new, but they are evolving. A popular topic last year that solicited much attention from attendees, this year there’s an even greater focus on mHealth and medtech. With the next version of Apple’s Watch rumored to be released right around the corner, and the recent announcement of Fitbit’s new Alta, wearables are only getting smarter and growing more popular. To meet this demand, SXSW even moved its popular 2016 SX Health and MedTech Expo earlier in the week this year to give the crowds more time to immerse themselves. Kevin Plank, founder, chairman and CEO of Under Armour, hosted a panel, “How a Sports Giant Is Now Tackling Your Health,” while another panel, “Internet of You: Wearables and Under-Skin Marketing,” posed the ongoing question for marketers of how-to make use of the data that’s at the intersection of health and tech.
2. Social VR. If it wasn’t evident enough by the fact that McDonald’s built an enviable branded Loft space in a prime location, right across from the Convention Center, where, once inside, those who are game can slip on an HTC Vive virtual reality headset and paint an enormous Happy Meal with a virtual paint palette, then it’s likely the scores of buzzing panels covering everything down to city planning using social VR that clinches it. Case in point: Virtual reality is not just for gaming or only an idea for the future. It’s everywhere and happening now, as more players enter the space to make VR more fitting for daily use.
3. Good Intentions. While content is (still) king, so, now, is intent. The social media landscape is changing, leaving marketers challenged with finding new ways and taking different approaches for impactful messaging. In the panel, “New Hollywood: Social Media Storytelling,” Matt Creem, director, social media for 20th Century Fox, acknowledges the hurdle. “Audiences are distracted and decentralized,” he says. It’s not one-sided, but rather, a conversation now. The question becomes: So, how can marketers create an experience that’s unique to the platforms available to them and start those conversations? The takeaway: Creativity has to be enhanced by the platform, not the other way around. Content builds the destination. Without compelling content, technology, even the coolest tech, by itself, isn’t enough.