Daily Marauder


SXSW 2012: 5 TRENDS by Marauder

SXSW 2012: 5 Trends

But first, a reflection. Many have chastised SXSW as a liquor-fueled Vegas for tech people. In respect of the truth, I would say that this is true in many respects. There is alcohol. People drink it. That said, the beauty of SXSW is in the aggregation of a true set of innovators, from start-ups, VCs, investors, programmers, and digital marketers. Many have written about the serendipity which makes SXSW great. I fully agree with this. The important marking point of what you get from SXSW is in what you expect from it. If you expect to saddle up to a prescribed list of panels and meetings, you’re at the wrong conference friend. If you can let go, and allow the world to provide for some meetings with some astounding people by coincidence, you’re spot-on in the right place.


From running into Ian Schafer from Deep Focus & Josh Riedel from Instagram at the Foursquare party to meeting employee #1 from Mint & connecting with Zach Greenberger from Fullbright on what makes a good user design experience, my best conversations were usually the unplanned ones. I learned more in the past 7 days than I have in the past year. Topics included everything from launching a movie, how Twitter changes the writing style of a TV writer, how certain apps don’t work at SXSW and why that doesn’t necessarily mean they won’t ever, and how Foursquare investigative work can help you figure out who hooked up last night.

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RECAP:

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The Rain

Austin is usually very sunny and hot, but this year it rained…a lot. Brands capitalized quickly offering branded panchos, like this one from Fandango, and umbrellas.

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Instaprint

Printing pictures from your Instagram feed, using a hashtag. This particular one was so engaging; they used a velvet rope around it.

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Creative Promotions

I’ve noted the large brands in Trend #5 but the online sites got in the game too. Skype featured a town crier who would scream out your tweets.

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Cool Technology

This is the Makerbot. It is a 3D printer which prints out a physical object from a model on the computer to the left. GE featured a DIY tent where SXSW-goers could learn about new tech like this.

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ZE TRENDS

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#1: Social Pairing

–Apps in the Space: Highlight, Glancee, Kismet, Sonar & Banjo

–Objective: Connect people together either solely digitally or in the real world to facilitate real connections and ease the discomfort in connecting.

-Why is this a Trend?: Highlight played SXSW app darling going into the conference but didn’t hit a resounding high note while there. While an app like Foursquare is more effective at SXSW, Highlight is less. The app became ineffective on the ground at SXSW because the size of the conference caused massive numbers of suggestions. In essence, when suggesting connecting to everyone, you end up connecting to no one because the sheer size of referrals is to large. Think about the stress you feel when you see 52 emails sitting unread in your email box. The same insight applies here. All this aside, simply the fact that something does well at SXSW does not mean it is instead fire or on the flip side, instant fodder. Consider that most SXSW-ers are not the target market of Pinterest for example. The success of social pairing has been proven, for the most part, in apps whose objective is pairing potential daters. Getting the interface right is the central sticking point in who wins here.

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#2: Sharing

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Sites in the Space: Neighborgoods, Airbnb, Spinlister

Objective: Allow strangers to share items and connect them together in a community of sharing.

–Why is this a Trend?: Airbnb connected many SXSW-ers with space to stay while in Austin but more importantly, the graph below begins to explain the rise of sharing. For one, we all have enough stuff to last a lifetime. Being more sustainable and limiting the additional items in the world not only helps each other but keeps those items out of a landfill making the Earth just a smidge happier.

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#3: Future of Music Consumption

Sites in the Space: Spotify, Pandora, MOG, Rdio, & Turntable

Objective: Allow strangers to share items and connect them together in a community of sharing.

–Why is this a Trend?: In 1895, Nikola Tesla transmitted a radio signal 50 miles from New York City to West Point, NY in the first test of radio transmission. The golden age of radio took shape from the 1920s through the 1950s. As traditional radio begins to the see the shadow of online radio, it’s clear that a transitional point is upon us. This past August, Pandora surpassed popular terrestrial radio stations in New York City for the first time. Online services including Pandora, Spotify, Turntable and Rdio have been rapidly growing thanks to the strength and speed of cloud computing and a renewed appetite for online music discovery.

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#4: Gaming for Good

Tech in the Space: Kickstarter, Google, Nike, Fitbit, NASA, Google, Gylo, Ayogo Games

Objective: Game dynamics motivate users around virtual points and play to our human desire to win. This new gaming model encourages us to improve our health, learn new things, or raise funds all in the sake of personal improvement.

Why is this a Trend?: Between Fitbit, the Jawbone Up, and Nike’s push behind the Fuelband, gaming for personal health is on a serious upswing. While in Austin, I was fascinated by some of the applications that pushed game dynamics or offers based around social good or education. For example, Cause.it rewards users with discounts for volunteer work offered at non-profits.

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#5: Technology is Listening & Watching

(Taken during the Superbowl, the screen above was presented when Shazaming the Pepsi commercial.)

Tech in the Space: Shazam, Kinect, Soundhound, Siri, IntoNow

Objective: Allow users to interact with technology by moving or by being heard.

Why is this a Trend?: Shazam commenced operations as an application which helped users identify songs but has evolved as an app to help brands connect their TV commercials to content on mobile phones. While this is a band-aid for the television being able to enable a connection to digital, it does allow for a fascinating TV to digital extension for brands. During SXSW, I also heard David Jones, EVP of Marketing at Shazam, mention that Shazam was working towards an always-on listening model. Just like Foursquare has an always-on model for location, Shazam would employ the same for listening. One question. Why type of folks want their technology to be always listening…or even always watching? Creepy alert.

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Brands, Brands, Brands

AMEX

AMEX promoted its Sync, Tweet, Save promotion linking twitter and discounts using an AMEX card with a Jay Z concert at Austin City Limits.

Effectiveness: 5 (scale 1 -5)

Nike

Nike promoted its new NikeFuel band, a sports band which tracks expended energy by selling the bands at times communicated via Twitter and setting up a sports park for Fuel Band wearers to stay active and win FuelBand points.

Effectiveness: 4 (scale 1 -5)

Chevy

Chevy provided vehicles which could be hailed as cabs to transport SXSW-goers throughout the conference.

Effectiveness: 4 (scale 1 -5)

Pepsi

Pepsi paid to take over the Austin Convention Center, usually owned by Coke, replacing all vending machines with Pepsi. They additionally ran a meet-up space called Pepsi Co Central with talks by special speakers.

Effectiveness: 3 (scale 1 -5)



SUPER BOWL 43: THE BEST OF TIMES AND THE WORST OF TIMES by Marauder

SUPER BOWL 43: THE BEST OF TIMES AND THE WORST OF TIMES

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Photo: Barton Silverman/The New York Times

For me, the Super Bowl is less about this (above) and more about this (below).

super-bowl-43

This year, I was even more excited for the ads as 2 of them were to be screened in 3D. But then, why did the commercial breaks come and go leaving me feeling like the day after a bad New Year’s party? Overall, this Super Bowl was a general dud in the ad department but a gleaming diamond in terms of the game. Even I, who generally spends the game wondering what the hell is going on, was screaming as The Steelers turned it all around in the final moments.

But back to the ads. There were some Rubik’s Cubes in the rough. I have to leave out the two 3D ads as my local CVS didn’t have the glasses. Shocker. Click here or on the Super Bowl ad image above to watch all of the ads from the Super Bowl and rate on Hulu.

The Good

Pepsi: Pepsuber

pepsuber

My favorite commercial is one part, popular SNL skit MacGruber and one part, Pepsi commercial. For final flair, MacGyver makes a cameo in the spot. Jazz hands.

Hulu: Alec in Huluwood

huluwood

Alec Baldwin can do no wrong and his comedic genius comes through yet again in this spot. Baldwin takes you into the Hollywood sign for a rare look inside Huluwood. I think perhaps the spot was reaching a bit only at the end. Loving it, loving it, loving it, wha?!

Pepsi: Refresh Anthem

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Way to stick it to Coke and tug at my heart strings simultaneously. And modeling your new logo after Obama’s campaign logo? Ingenious.

The Ugly

Careerbuilder.com: Tips

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For an American population with general lack of focus, perhaps they thought the redundancy angle was a good one. But really, the repetition in this commercial just made me want to hurl my television out my 8th floor window. If you hate your job and this commercial, blame Careerbuilder. By far, the worst commercial of the night.

Teleflora: Talking Flowers

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So, I’m trying to envision the marketing meeting where it was decided that this commercial was a good idea. Flowers = Feeling bad about myself. Genius. The flowers this woman receives berate her while all of her co-workers watch. Way to SUCK the fun out of Valentine’s Day Teleflora. Debbie Downer, party of one? Debbie Downer.

Castrol Oil: Edge Monkeys

castrol

One world: Creepy.

The Best of the Best

Terry Tate: Office Linebacker aired during the Super Bowl in 2003.  This Reebok ad is still the best ad for me in terms of storyline.  If you ask Reebok though, it wasn’t a success.  Apart from being a hysterical commercial with a fantastic storyline, the ad lacked a direct call-to-action and ended up doing nothing for Reebok’s bottom line.  Still, you kill the joe, you make some mo’.  I pour one out for Terry Tate…

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