The big stuff from SXSWi 2013 by iris worldwide


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Back from the Future II - The Weird, Wonderful and Interesting from SXSW Interactive 2013

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The big stuff from SXSWi 2013 by iris worldwide

  2. 2. BACK FROM THE FUTURE II Sequels. No matter how much bigger, louder or crazier they get, they never quite manage to live up to what went before. SXSW Interactive is no exception. This tech festival, now in its twentieth year still beats creativity, ideas and innovation at its heart, but you have to dig ever deeper to find gold. This year, the noise was even more deafening, the outlandish exhibition stands with interactive participation gimmicks had us surrounded, and so many lines, you would be forgiven for thinking that the TSA played a significant role in organizing. But despite this sensory, intellectual and social overload, we hacked our way to a library of fascinating insights, and diligently focused them into a presentation that’s more digestible than any breakfast taco Austin has to offer. Enjoy. And stay • page 2
  3. 3. ATOMS ARE THE NEW BYTES Two worlds are colliding as physical manifestations made with digital technology have us taking a step backward to go forward Digital innovation has been unstoppable over the past decade. Photos, music, movies, games – they all now live in ‘the cloud’. And while everyone appreciates the benefits and advancements of digital technology, this dematerialization has meant that we’re beginning to yearn the loss of our precious tangible goods. A number of talks focused on this topic including: Digital Reality: Life in Two Worlds; PopUp Culture; Embracing Analog: Why Physical is Hot; and Creating Great Analog Souvenirs for a Digital Era, which actually delivered one of our favorite quotes from Ryan Brigge; “the latest thing at SXSW this year is PAPER!” and with the global stationary market expected to rise 25% by 2016, he just may be on to something. For a more personal example of this trend try thinking back to the first vinyl record or CD you ever bought? Now try and remember the first MP3 you downloaded? One you can answer and one you probably can’t, right? That’s because the physical experience attaches memories and emotions, where as the digital one often gets lost and forgotten. This helps explain why a study by JWT shows 73% of Americans wanting to turn digital memories into physical ones. Some companies are already capitalizing on this insight. Stichagram takes your instagram photos and prints them on pillows, and Instaprint releases the digital info from your camera into the real world. Brands need to be mindful of the emotional void that digital sometimes creates. It’s not about choosing physical over digital or vice versa, the key is figuring out how we can use physical objects to increase the perceived value of digital experiences. Even when we build communications and experiences for people, it’s no longer above the line or below the line, digital or experiential, because as we’re clearly seeing, the lines to create tangible value are officially blurring. And remember, don’t be afraid to go old • page 3
  4. 4. HUMAN TECHNOLOGY Humans are becoming the new interface This year we got a glimpse into the future of technology as innovative companies showed us the new possibilities when the human body becomes the interface. From intuitive gesture based technology like Leap Motion, programmable clothing, or even embedded technology, our minds were blown with futuristic possibilities. One talk called ‘The Human Body is the next interface’ explored the notion of embedding micro machines inside the human body. Imagine a baby in a cot, with the blanket containing embedded Nano tech. The blanket senses skin temp, alpha waves, pulse and other vitals, the blanket then releases medicine for the baby based on signals from the embedded tech. And while this might feel like a distant future, closer on the horizon are bras that detect signs of breast cancer. It’s not all life saving preventative tech though. Programmable clothing is not as far away as you might think. French brand Lacoste recently celebrated their 80 year anniversary with its ‘Future of Polo’ programmable clothing piece. This trend is further on the horizon than most other innovations at SXSW. However, one thing this trend clearly shows is how brands can remove obstacles from people’s daily lives and use innovation to create more simple, fluid, and seamless • page 4
  5. 5. Capitalizing on motivation in the moment In our latest global study, Planet Hyperconnected, we saw we’re able to buy just about whatever we want, that our ability to be always on gives us a desire to always be wherever and at any given moment. To incite IN the moment. Particularly, as everyone is seeking an always purchases, eBay found that by simply placing the NOW existence, brands are looking to deliver real time snackable buy button above the scroll increased conversion content to cater for our ever-diminishing attention spans. by 30%, meaning that simply scrolling was too much friction in the moment! Here at SXSW this theory was proved further as speakers such as Chris Risdon’s (Behavioral Change as a Value Proposition) and eBay’s At the other end of the spectrum from the ‘buy now’ button, the Steve Yankovich talked about how in this era of constant connectivity, Margot Bloomstein talk Content Strategy for Slow Experiences brands need to capitalize on people’s motivation in the moment. spoke about slowing down users, focusing their attention, getting them exploring while helping them act more deliberately in the For example, consider donating to the Red Cross for Hurricane moment. It’s not a content approach for every brand, but it’s Sandy today vs. the 2004 Tsunami. Back then, there were multiple perfect for those looking to create a deeper brand narrative and layers to donate (see a commercial, go back home, log on to a genuinely invite consumers in. Patagonia creates slow content computer, take out your wallet, etc.), whereas now it’s as simple experiences, delivering deep long form content, rich copy, rich in as an instant text, enabling the Red Cross to capitalize on the detail with total transparency – the good and the bad. desire right then and there. Unlike Amazon-type etailers where speed through checkout is Or consider how 5 years ago, no one wanted to shop on their the goal, slow content helps the customer make the right choice, phone, yet now we’re not only using our phones for commerce, not just a choice. As we craft our marketing plans and look to connect with people in the pivotal moments that matter, we need to make sure that we’re not creating experiences in silos, but a seamless experience that taps into a direct need, whether it’s to learn more or buy now. And as we do that, the more barriers that brands can remove from instant interaction, the better. Think about all of the ways you can reduce friction in the moment in a way that facilitates • page 5
  6. 6. FEEDFORWARD TECHNOLOGY Using feedback to make informed decisions moving forward In today’s world of big data, we have the ability to create immediate feedback based on real time data. And when you understand what you’ve just done, it influences your next decision. Marketers need to leverage ‘feed forward’ technology; guiding consumers to make better decisions by intuitively providing the right info, at the right time, and in the right context. This theme was central to Chris Robson’s Behavior Change as Value Proposition, and was also featured in several other sessions. Survey Monkey’s David Goldberg spoke of the importance of understanding explicit versus implicit data. Citing Target as an example, who can not only tell if a customer is pregnant but also her due date based on nothing more than simple purchase patterns, allowing them to feed forward as she makes the necessary preparations. Chris Robson’s example was of going into Subway and feed forward geo location tech being able to help you decide between cookies or a 12-inch sub by providing calorie info on your cell phone in real time. Google Now is a great example of a feed forward utility proving real time answers that almost preempt consumer need. Shopper marketers take note as new opportunities emerge to provide intuitive value exchange at the point of purchase. With data out there for brands to use (GPS, image capture, profiles, status updates, RFID, NFC, the list goes on…), we have the ability to create immediate feedback that’s relevant and useful based on real-time data, enabling us to have a bigger role in the key moments that • page 6
  7. 7. BRAND NARRATIVES NOT STORIES, DRIVE PARTICIPATION At iris, we believe in creating Participation Brands, therefore the takeaway from Deloitte’s John Hagel really resonated with us. He distinguished stories from narratives: stories have a beginning, middle and an end, and are told about others. On the other hand, narratives are open ended, the end is yet to be determined and they have an invitation for all of us to participate. That invitation is based on trust, which as Hagel put ‘exposing your vulnerabilities enables trust and connections with others’. From a brand perspective, Apple is the quintessential narrative example. ‘Think Different’ is far more than a tag line; it’s an invitation to the masses to break out of uniformity, using the brand as the catalyst. In this context, you can see that it’s much more than a slogan written by an agency or a PR firm, but the core of the company’s beliefs impacting all of their actions. Narratives are the stories that are being created, and in this ever-changing world with UGC and crowdsourcing brands that invite people in and live by their actions (not just words) will be the ones that will have a stronger following. If we want people to participate, it’s essential that our brands know their passionate purpose, and all stakeholders believe in it. Only when we believe in the purpose of the brand and the narrative we want to tell, will others come along for the • page 7
  8. 8. Think psychology before technology It’s an obvious one, but brands wanting to circulate their Secondly, if something is ‘top of mind, it’s tip of tongue’. ideas and content need to start with the psychology of Referring to the need for brands to create trigger cues why people use or share a service or idea, not with the such as contextual names; Meow Mix cat food, natural platform or technology. It goes back to basic need state associations e.g.: Peanut AND Jelly. Rebecca Black’s driven marketing, but is so important in a world where appalling YouTube Sensation It’s Friday has continued we’re screening out non-useful tech and messages. to drive mass views on Fridays due to its title and contextual trigger of the word Friday. According to Wharton’s Jonah Berger, and his book Contagious, Why things Catch On, numerous studies have To apply the concept, brands need to consider their found that it’s not luck or cats, but a science that explains context and craft messages that keep them at the core why people share. Making audiences feel like insiders, sharing of the conversation. He referred to this as Trojan Horse; a secret is key to Social Currency. It’s the first of several brand assets that could only be from your brand. “Trojan “STEPPS” that also include Triggers, Emotion, Public, Horses carry something along for the ride – the message Practical Value, and Stories, which, if incorporated, can a brand wants to get across in the middle”. Take Panda make any product or idea contagious. After all, if we can Cheese for example; it’s virtually impossible to share the get people to talk about mundane products like blenders, humorous videos without saying the word ‘panda’. then we should be able to get them to talk about anything. With all of the technology and options at both marketers and consumers fingertips, it’s easy to get lost in the possibilities of technology. However this was a good reminder of the importance of keeping people at the center of our strategies, particularly as we want them to talk and socialize our • page 8
  9. 9. FOR THE GOOD OF HUMANITY Brands are becoming more ‘human’ too Another big topic of discussion was ‘doing the right thing for humanity’, particularly relevant as brands develop their narrative and define their purpose in a world of up and coming millennial leaders. Businesses with a higher purpose will do better in today’s world led by this generation who demand more transparency, accountability and more societal impact vs. greed and growth. On the heels of this (no pun intended) was the support that there are more women in leadership positions (also a big topic this year), in which their EQ makes them naturally better at balancing needs and inspiring good behavior. Numerous talks touched on this subject including John Makey of Wholefoods Conscious Capitalism, Don Tapscott’s How to Solve the World’s Problems and even Cindy Gallop’s vivacious talk Make Love Not Porn, each of which touch on being profitable and responsible at the same time. From using technology and sex to no longer make sex taboo in the US to creating internal environments that breed authenticity, integrity and trust from the top down, each illustrated their higher purpose to create long lasting cultural impact. While purposeful marketing is not a new concept, the power of technology and social media is fueling a new wave of businesses who are more conscious and able to gather widespread support around their initiatives, as people rally quickly around issues that they believe in. To illustrate the point just think about how many of your friends changed their profile to an ‘equal’ sign. It’s one thing to talk the talk and have good intentions, but turning those intentions into genuine action that comes from within are what will motivate people to participate in your brand’s narrative / mission, particularly as they have the desire and more options than ever to do • page 9
  10. 10. SUMMING IT ALL UPEven in the physiodigitial world that we now live in, we have to remember, we’re still talkingto humans with archetypal desires that will never changeJonah Peretti, founder of Buzzfeed gave a talk on The Big created an environment where people are looking for ways toPower Shift in Media, where he stated that the humanizing feel human again. Humor is what keeps us human. And thatof content in the digital space is only just beginning, as we humor is best when it’s unpredictable, imperfect and surprising.head for a new ‘human age’ in digital. The last ten years has In his closing remarks, Bruce Sterling described the sunglassesbeen the decade of the aggregator, where superficial content and models being produced by the new wave of 3D printersdesigned for click-baiting has been the most successful. The as ‘crabjacts’- pointless pieces of plastic with no benefit tonext ten years will be driven by sharing – and only content anyone – a kind of ‘physical LOLcat’. But, like LOLcats, perhapsthat makes people feel human will succeed. Content that is the very pointlessness of these things is what makes themmoving, content that provokes emotions, from nostalgia, to so important. Their value is in the emotional reaction theybelonging to empathy. provoke. They make us laugh, they connect us, they makeAnd perhaps, the most fundamental emotional need of all? The us feel human. Because however many machines we haveurge to laugh. The Oatmeal’s Mathew Inman and Baratunde augmenting our bodies, and however much data we haveThurston’s talk What’s so funny about Innovation reminded tracking our desires, they’ll never make us feel the same wayus that honest, provocative, observational humor is the perfect as the 33 Animals Who Are Extremely Disappointed In You.outlet for people who need to feel like people again. It’sespecially important as the data and technology overload have EXTRAORDINARY IDEAS