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The tech agenda for marketers

The dust has definitely settled on SXSWi. The tequila hangovers have long subsided and attendees have had a chance to reflect on what they saw this year. So what was useful?

While last year was about big hardware announcements, including the Replicator 3D printer and leap motion, this year was not about one particular piece of technology. Instead there was one clear debate: just because technology could, the question was being asked whether it should. The significance of having keynote speakers such as Edward Snowden, Julian Assange and Glenn Greenwald, all having to appear via video link, indicated surveillance and data privacy was high on the agenda.

Dan Mehgan at Brave summed up the overall feeling at SXSWi 2014, nicely when speaking at the IPA wrap up event earlier this month, when he said: “Last year at SXSW we had the sense the world had changed, that tech can do anything! This year tech now represents a challenge, not just endless opportunity”. Nigel Gwilliam of the IPA, speaking at the same event, went further by stating: “Have gone beyond tech utopia”.

For brands and agencies, one take out from SXSW should be we all need to be

far more aware of our own stance on privacy. Nigel Gwilliam speaking at that IPA event referred to a powerful stat – 63% of people want less info collected about them, but 77% haven’t changed their security settings. He made it clear that responsibility lies with brands and developers. Where a brand sets the default will determine where the majority of people’s settings will sit.

Beyond the debate, there were plenty of brands at the event this year demonstrating their technology ability. While Subway went lo-fi with their fashion range made out of packaging, Oreo combined tweets & cookies to create personalised Oreo based on what was trending.

Ultimately though SXSWi was defined by not what was there but what was said. Here are 6 key maxims for marketers and agencies taken from Speakers at SXSW this year:

1)      Brands (and agencies) should focus more resources on intrepreneurship. Cannabalise your own business before anyone else does (Greg Gunn, Hootsuite)

2)      More context, less complex. Brands need to think much more about reactive design and in the light of wearable devices, brands need to get their message to work in a small space with a short attention span (Cliff Kuang, Wired)

3)      Marketers need to avoid getting drunk on the ‘Oreo effect’. 44.5k people engaged in the Oreon ‘Dunk in the Dark’ tweet, but this only represented 0.008% of active tweeters. Brands and agencies need to keep focused on what really matters to their business and cut the jargon (Kristina Halvorson, Content Marketing Expert)

4)      It’s time we stopped making things for the Internet and started making things out of the Internet. This is particular true of mobile. There is a wealth of potential, yet advertisers are often missing the unique opportunity to add value (Ben Malbon, Art, Copy, Code)

5)      Behaviour Should Impact Design, not the other way round. We live in a world where we can now collect huge amounts of data on consumer’s user behaviour, design must start with this rather than what we want to achieve (Chris Risdon, Adaptive Path)

6)      Ideas don’t count, doing counts. It not the tech that’s the most important thing, It’s what you do with it (Alexis Ohanian, Reddit) 

Chrissy Totty is Head of Innovation at Vizeum UK