SXSW Interactive 2016: Digital Trends

Text: Michelle Marais

Over the last three decades, the South by Southwest (SXSW) Conferences & Festivals have become the premier destination for discovery. From new media presentations and film screenings, to music showcases and panel discussions about emerging technologies, the event has gained a reputation for being a launching pad for new creative content.

Mark Pretorius, Head of Digital Marketing at Old Mutual Investment Group, addressed the Cape Town QuirkStars at the most recent QuirkU and highlighted all the biggest digital marketing trends that were discussed at this year’s SXSW event.

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Start with data
“Data” and “analytics” are two of 2016’s buzzwords, and rightfully so. The information age not only allows us to engage with consumers directly, it allows us to track engagement and analyse which tactics work best. With millions of businesses vying for consumers’ attention, using data to perfect your advertising campaign has become more important than ever. Not only does it provide agencies with the foresight needed to improve their strategy going forwards, it also serves as proof that a campaign is successful – which clients love!

Video: The next big thing
In his keynote speech, Buzzfeed’s CEO Jonah Peretti, discussed how popular video posts – particularly on social media platforms – have become. While Buzzfeed’s content mostly lives on its website, the company received 420 million views from referrals from Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter in January of this year.

It is Peretti’s belief that when we share a video of a cute animal with a friend on social media, you share more than just a video, you share an emotion, which results in a connection. It’s this emotion that will encourage engagement. Mobile is playing an increasingly larger role too. With an always on, always connected attitude, today’s tech-savvy consumers demand that video is adapted for mobile.

The future of video
Prepare for a future of virtual and augmented reality. From Samsung to McDonald’s, a number of large corporations had stands at the festival that focussed on the endless possibilities these warped realities hold. Again, the importance of mobile was pointed out. Very soon every consumer with a smartphone will be able to experience these realities – it’s already happening with Google Cardboard.

While a Minority Report-like future might be a few years away, forward-thinking agencies should start exploring the potential of video and how it can be used to drive engaging campaigns.

In conclusion, Pretorius shared his biggest insight: As South Africans, we often feel eons behind the innovative digital minds of Silicon Valley, but the truth is that we’re focussing on the right trends and delivering work that’s on par with the best of the best … And now Quirk has a Webby to prove it!