Jon: SXSW Interactive – Celebrating the Future of Advertising and Technology

Hello again! BU got back from break on Monday, and everyone will be catching up on their adventures over the past week. While many students departed for popular collegiate destinations such as Cancun, Miami, and California, a group of digital media students and professionals gathered in Austin, Texas for the South-by-Southwest (SXSW) Interactive festival. When it first began, SXSW Interactive was relatively unknown, and was easily dwarfed by its big brother SXSW Music and Film festivals. However, Interactive’s popularity has risen in recent years as digital media continues to dominate everyday life, and now the festival sees a massive turnout every year. Part conference, part trade show, and part spring break party, topics stretch the limits of the (broad) realm of digital media. I was lucky enough to attend this year with two other BU students, and while I could spend this whole post talking about the full size model of NASA’s new Hubble replacement, the James Webb telescope that was on display there (it is SO COOL), I’m going to share the top three predictions for the future of marketing that I took away from SXSW Interactive.


1)    Ad agencies and tech companies are going to become closer partners than ever before – Google’s ArtCopyCode initiative that they were promoting made this more than clear. On display were a pair of talking shoes that gave the wearer feedback on their actions, a road trip app developed in partnership with Volkswagen, and an effort Google is making to help filmmakers re-imagine their work for new web canvases. Each project was interesting, but the bigger message was clear: digital technology is here to stay, and marketers better start thinking about how they can create compelling interactive experiences.

2)    Physical products and experience are the new digital – Records, CDs, personal letters – these Mesozoic objects could make a comeback as a response to the increasingly digital world. Flourishing record sales could be written off as a trendy cultural phenomenon, but many see this as a symptom of a deeper human demand for physical experiences. Watch for brands looking to create new physical materials and events over the next few years, as consumers begin to taper their computer usage.

3)    Be diverse – If SXSW drove one point home for me, it was this one. From the attendees, who quite literally came from all over the world, to the range of topics (I attended a talk on voice acting for video games and Al Gore’s keynote on the future in the same weekend), SXSW Interactive is an incredibly diverse event. Even though SXSW is just a microcosm of humanity, it reflects and shapes the larger world. Borders, both digital and physical, are crumbling. At the end of the day, those who embrace and celebrate diversity are the ones who will flourish.

And now you have my two cents on SXSW! Thanks for reading, and good luck with the last push before Summer!

Until Next Time,