SXSW: “Emerging From a Recession with Emerging Media”

March 15, 2009

My new post on Social Studies:
“What does an abundance of information create? A scarcity of attention basically, right?” — Herbert Simon in 1971

The South by Southwest (SXSW) Interactive Conference is this week in Austin, TX. It’s the annual sharing and learning event for interactive professionals around the world.

This morning I hit the “Emerging From a Recession with Emerging Media” panel, featuring Patrick Moorhead of Razorfish and David Polinchock of the Brand Experience Lab.

The premise: The economy has tanked. Slides showing an entire foreclosed block of houses for sale, charts of stock prices and crying children quickly made their point for attendees. However, panelists argue, a poor economy is not a reason for marketers and brands to sit on their tried-and-true laurels.

More than 50 widely-successful companies were started during the Great Depression and/or 1970s Recession, including CNN, QuickTrip and Buffalo Wild Wings.

Polinchock made frequent reference to Encyclopedia Britannica sticking to their business model of selling information a letter book at a time for decades, ignoring that consumers were changing their consuption habits. Wikipedia may not be as trustworthy, but it’s instant and intuitive.

This is why it’s imperative for companies to reevaluate their approach to ROI, instead focusing on Return On Innovation as they weigh marketing strategies and tactics for the short and long term.

Technology You Won’t Be Able to Live Without 10 Years From Now

  • QR codes: tiny graphics that can be photographed/scanned to pull data or direct to a Web site
  • Real-time video: Companies like Qik already allow consumers to stream to the Web live from their phones. Can you imagine the implications of going to a concert where people are streaming the show live? It’s coming. (NOTE: This is one of my big concepts I’ve been talking about for a few years, actually. I want to go to YouTube Live and see 2,000 live feeds from fans at a Radiohead concert in Madrid by 2012. We’ll see…)
  • Ordering a Big Mac using RFID: The concept of ordering food by pointing your phone to the food you want, getting txt updates when it’s ready, billing it to your cell phone bill and your food knowing where you’re sitting in the restaurant. RFID has huge potential.
  • Visual search: the concept of typing “lime green shoelaces” into Google and getting 18,000 text results will seem archaic. We process visual information faster (don’t have to read). Like.com already lets you shop visually for shoes and handbags.

Takeaways:

  • Don’t take technology for granted
  • Consumers get spoiled easily – expectations are high
  • Innovation happens – what are you going to do?
  • Evolve or die
  • Suspend disbelief in order to get smart
  • No “no risk”

Create customer engagements that are:

  • As intuitive as play
  • and are as emotional as film.

The panel ended with Polinchock showcasing this awesome interactive program for MSNBC NewsBreaker that allows cinema audiences to control the game. I took some video of the panel audience controlling the game:

Please leave comments over at Social Studies.

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