Under The Spotlight: SXSW 2017 Interactive In Focus

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SXSW unites more than 30,000 attendees from 82 countries, celebrating the film, music, interactive and marketing industries. This year marks the 31st annual event, starting today and running through to March 19th in Austin Texas.  With so many sessions, speakers and events, we have put together our top picks for this year’s tech track content to help you keep ahead of developments in the industry.

Can Automated Assistants Be The Future?

As with all major digital conferences in 2016, a key theme for SXSW this year is artificial intelligence and voice automation. It’s an undeniably exciting topic. Advancements in voice technology and speech recognition have revolutionized the personal assistant. Anyone who uses services like Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant and Siri have been exposed to these automated helpers and will understand their potential to impact our lives.

Many industry leaders are convinced that artificial intelligence will be the new way of interacting with brands. Direct purchasing and entertainment capabilities at the touch of a button or voice command ensure that the way we search and shop will change our established model and force marketers to rethink how they advertise online.

If you are attending SXSW, The Automated Assistant Revolution session on March 12th is a must-see. The panel will feature industry experts at the forefront of this revolution, providing insights into what the future holds for automated assistants.

The Not-So Bright Future of VR and AR

Virtual and Augmented Reality (VR and AR) were two of the hottest marketing topics of 2016. Virtual and immersive experiences are exciting ways for brands to engage with their consumers however, the question that remains is whether they are sustainable marketing tactics. To many marketers, these technologies are just gimmicky ways for entertaining consumers with little long term viability. Despite the hype, there has been slow widespread adoption, thanks to high prices, user motion sickness and technical issues – and that’s just for the gamers. Will the technology make it out of the stables or is it last year’s Google Glasses?

The session Is VR/AR The New Storytelling…Or The Old 3D? on March 11th takes a thought-provoking approach to exploring the future of storytelling with these technologies.

Brick & Mortar Stores Digitized

In the era of easy ecommerce, brick-and-mortar stores have lost some of the footfall they once had. As a result, innovation in the physical shopping process needed a revamp.

The Internet of Things (IoT) has the potential to redefine consumer shopping experiences. Adopting these intelligent solutions is allowing retailers to gain important customer insights, such as what customers are putting in their carts, where customers are walking and how long they are in the store for. From engaging with in-store ‘magic’ mirrors in high end stores like in Rebekka Minkoff to iBeacon technology to deliver personalized mobile promotions in Lord & Taylor and Hudson’s Bay, making the physical shopping experience more interactive for shoppers as well as rich in customer data for shop owners is the key to future intelligent marketing.

Could interactive and exciting elements such as theaters, digital showrooms and real-time signage be the new norm? IoT & The Shoppertainment Era on March 11th will be a keen topic to follow at SXSW.

Women in Power: A Millennial Perspective

Emma Watson, Sheryl Sandberg and Michelle Obama would be proud. They’re women with power who use their influence and public voice in a positive way; they’re women that millennials look up to. Nowadays, likeminded women are pushing for gender equality to be at the forefront of every political debate, news story and activist event. Women are demanding a change, and that change has finally begun.

“Femvertising” or selling to empowered women has taken off in a big way over the past few years. Always #Like a Girl and Girls Who Code’s The Problem with Brogrammers have been awarded for their depiction of the changing role of women in society and challenging the traditional way of advertising to women. Gone are the days that brands can put out a sexist advertisement and get away with it; people want fair and inclusive advertising and brands need to be a force for good in society.

The speakers presenting the Badass Buying Power: The Rise of Millenial Women session predict significant changes for the way premium products will be marketed to women – I for one am excited to see advertising’s role with gender equality develop.

With so much to see and do across the nine days, it’ll be impossible to cover everything. If you are there for tech however, these key sessions are a great place to start.

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