Dave Marsey, executive vice president/managing director, DigitasLBi, San Francisco
I believe the biggest topic of conversation this year will be around large-scale marketing activations happening outside the convention center or hotel ballroom. Like Gogo’s use of their test plane for a lucky few to experience their new text-based air-to-ground product. Or Pennzoil’s plans to let riders test-drive a life-sized Mario Kart to promote their new natural gas product. I don’t anticipate any big topics around new products or innovation, which is a shame given what the conference is all about.
Matt Herrmann, executive vice president, director of Strategy, BBDO San Francisco
I think the most interesting questions and conversations at SXSW 2014 will be around the nexus of wearables, biometrics, and genomics. Will the near future contain a plethora of devices that measure very specific variables from our life, or are we headed toward a convergence of devices, with most of our personal data coming from apps? Will that data lead to more efficient user recognition, making the password problem feel "very 2013"? And ultimately, is there a real appetite from mass audiences for this fire hose of data, or is it all just very nuanced naval gazing? The answers will shape the future of behavior-based marketing strategies.
The best moments of SXSW are always the most unexpected, but I'm very much looking forward to two talks for two radically different reasons. Kristina Halvorson's talk "Go Home Marketing, You Are Drunk" promises to remind us all that jumping onto the next shiny new thing isn't always the best strategy. Most marketers still have plenty to accomplish with the less sexy, but more productive tasks of consumer understanding, content strategy, and product iteration. Also, as an unrepentant nerd child of the '80s, I'm also looking forward to having my consciousness expanded by Neil deGrasse Tyson's talk. For me, SXSW is always inspiring, but the moments that have the most lasting value are those that give you a new perspective on the world - I can't think of a better person to do just that.
Aki Spicer, head, Social and Digital Strategy, TBWA\Chiat\Day New York
I expect some chatter directed to programmatic, native, (free) app economy, wearables, Bitcoin, and the seeming tablet usage crash after four years. Oh, and iBeacons.
I’m looking forward to a few things. I'm most eager to connect with others, particularly digital leaders so we may share notes on a few different topics. These include, agency integration – how are we all doing? Clients "getting it" – what are others experiencing? Budgets, particularly social – anybody else seeing the cash? Also I'm looking forward to the next technology. After all, Twitter debuted at SXSW years ago. Foursquare and countless other geo-location apps exploded at SXSW. I'm always interested to see what is dominating phones and interests.
David Shulman, chief executive, Organic
Four years ago, when I attended my first SXSW, I went looking for a glimpse into the future and in search of the "next big thing." It was eye-opening. And exhausting. And while I didn't find "it," I did take away a few insights which subsequent trips to SXSW have continued to reinforce.
As I return for my fourth year, I am clear on what SXSW is all about for me. It's not about finding the newest technology; I saw plenty of that at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas just a few months ago. It's not about the next big start-up; it's hard to keep a secret nowadays. It's not about the killer keynote; I can catch all the tremendous speeches online, without having to struggle through crowds in Austin. For me, the real value at SXSW is the personal interactions and ideas that are birthed out of these conversations. The human-to-human interface. The human connection.
What I’m most looking forward to? Talks about smart objects and environments and how to design great customer experiences with them. Conversations about the different uses of data and how it is able to deliver true human value. Learning about innovative start-ups that spark ideas that can help our clients better connect with their consumers. Informal exchanges with peers and presenters about emerging topics and ideas that are revolutionizing the way we will connect tomorrow.
My advice: don't over-schedule. The most valuable parts of SXSW are unplanned. The unintended introductions, unexpected interactions, and unplanned conversations are where ideas are hatched and value is created. These are the things I'm most looking forward to next week.
Will you be at SXSW? Come and say hi if so! We always love to meet our readers, both old and new. We'll also be equipped with our video camera so if you have something digitally exciting going on, please tell us about it. If you'd like to meet, please email me at Melanie.White@incisivemedia.com.
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Melanie White is the Editor of ClickZ, where she has worked since July 2012. White has been with Incisive Media (ClickZ's parent company) since 2009 where she was Deputy Editor/ US Editor for one of the financial risk management titles, International Custody and Fund Administration (later Custody Risk).
In addition, White worked on FX Week where she was a Senior Reporter. She has also worked and contributed to a number of other titles, including The Accountant, International Accounting Bulletin, the New York Post, Independent Magazine (UK), as well as the broadcast title Sunday Live with Adam Boulton at Sky News.
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