In March 1987, 700 like-minded individuals came together to learn and share ideas on entertainment, media, and music. Now popularly known as South By Southwest® (SXSW®), the event has maintained steady growth, as well as made innovative strides, to help creative people develop their careers. During SXSW ’94, this marked a turning point in the events popularity where Johnny Cash performed and two new events were introduced – interactive and film. Fast-forward to SXSW ’16 and you’ll find that the music, film, and interactive event still holds true to its core values. With an average of 72,000 registrants and artists in attendance today, SXSW now boasts the biggest launching pad for new creative content.
Here are a few emerging trends you should expect to see during SXSW Interactive 2016 that will greatly impact how brands and consumers interact going forward:
1. Virtual Reality (VR)
Virtual reality has made significant progress as an emerging technology. A few notable virtual reality experiences during previous SXSW events include Game of Thrones VR and Samsung’s Gear VR. Since then, the panel at SXSW ’16 plans to discuss Cinematic VR, virtual football, and VS storytelling to city planning using social VR. The event will also showcase various installations including but not limited to the Samsung Gear VR Lounge and McDonald’s Loft.
The Samsung Gear VR Lounge will let conference attendees experience VR from wherever they are. The Gear VR provides portable VR experiences through its #VRonDemand campaign, making it more accessible to the average consumer. All you need to do is tweet using the hashtag #VRonDemand and respond to their invite using direct message (DM) and someone from the Samsung Mobile US team will bring a Samsung Gear VR experience to your location.
The McDonald’s Loft will transport users into a Happy Meal Box giving them a fully immersive virtual reality experience.
2. Social Messaging
Social sharing is evolving into intimate sharing as a result of an emerging shift in consumer behavior. This shift is giving rise to social platforms like Snapchat, Facebook Message, Twitter’s micro-messaging app. As users continue to gravitate towards a more private social sharing experience, brand marketers have to change their approach for how to connect with consumers. This means that the hallmarks of social media marketing are dwindling and personifying a brand in a witty way is not engaging consumers as it once did. Instead, marketers are attempting to enable conversation through visual language or creating compelling customer experiences through social platforms.
3. Artificial Intelligence
AI Topics at SXSW ’16 include think living with robots, the role of autonomous cars, and how emotive robotics can enhance our lives. Looking back on SXSW ’15, MIT social robotist, Cynthia Breazeal, discussed emotive computing that has the ability to recognize, interpret, process, and simulate elements of human behavior. Jibo is the name of one of the most advanced robots on display this year. Jibo offers a two-way interactive experience making it a more human-to-human interaction than ever before.
Digital marketers will be able to capitalize on artificial intelligence in a way where delivering highly contextual content could serve as an access point to IoT-based behavioral data. This will make it easier to retrieve and analyze how content is being received by consumers as well as providing new ways to deliver that content.