SXSW Recap: Using Emerging Technologies to Reach Your Audience

This is the first in a series of articles recapping interesting sessions that our staff attended at the 2013 SXSW (South by Southwest) Interactive Festival. Anderson Direct Marketing (ADM) made the investment to send three team members to Austin, Texas, to learn about interactive marketing ideas that we could apply to solutions for our clients. This session was a discussion about the use of new technologies to reach your customers and includes notes and video clips from the session to share our knowledge.

Session Title: Using Emerging Technologies to Reach Your Audience

Session Description:
In an increasingly fragmented landscape, how do you navigate through all of the new technology and keep your message from getting lost in a sea of communication? This discussion focuses on ways to utilize emerging technologies and devices to not only reach your target, but to also engage and excite them, focusing on practices in digital and social media through an integrated multi-device approach.

Thomas Fellger, Iconmobile
Maani Safa, SOMO Global
Glenn Stansbury, Hipcricket
Aaron Smith, Team Detroit (moderator)

Below are my notes from the training session where I've summarized the speakers' responses. I welcome you to use the Comments section below to share your feedback about their responses.

Question: What things do you do to help think about what's next?
• Maani Safa: His background is working with the big 4 auto makers on their next technology ideas.
• Thomas Fellger: He stated that he focuses on the product side and digital enhancements at Iconmobile.
• Glenn Stansbury: He researches what technology is doing for different people and groups plus what's relevant for the end user.

Topic: State of emerging devices
• Stansbury: He spoke about engaging through QR codes and SMS CTA (call to action), providing different content and solutions, how to capture relevant information on users for target marketing
• Safa: He provided an augmented reality demonstration with Bacardi & Coke and showed how to logo recognition to trigger music and special effects (see video below)

Topic: Hyper-connected digital world
• Safa: He envisions technology that changes based on what the user wants it to do. Responsive design is becoming archaic, while behavioral design is the future to provide a more personal user experience.
• Fellger: He spoke about connecting not by interfaces but rather by gestures and behaviors. He discussed that everyone now wants Google Glass, but in the future interfaces will be in the places you are going, so you don't need to carry them. Regarding the future of hyper-connected websites, there will be more technology when people enter a website based on information they've already provided or that was captured.
• Stansbury: His vision of the hyper-connected world depends upon each individual's decision about when they want to let go of control to let technology drive their decisions. Presently, we drive technology and still make most of our own decisions while using technology, but he continues his clients down the path of collecting data and providing decision information for the users so that future technology can help make decisions for them.

Demo: Maani Safa demonstrates next generation video ads
• Currently, video doesn't offer any interactivity. When you watch a video on YouTube, there's no customization within the video while it's playing.
• Next-generation videos will allow personalization based on options selected by the viewer (see Ford video below.)

Topic: New devices for personal data inputs
• Fellger: Cutting-edge now is the Nike device for your wrist. This is a cool device but interactivity between devices doesn't exist yet, so the consumer will eventually be disappointed.
• Stansbury: When new technology comes out, we have to have more interactivity with social and other devices.
• Safa: The current GUI (Graphical User Interface) will become NUI (Natural User Interface.) Developers will get rid of the old interface, and create next-generation interfaces, like the unique interface for the app called PATH.

Topic: Connected communities - moving from static to dynamic
• Safa : He believes that an augmented reality strategy for advertising, using your geo-location and known interests, will also allow advertisers to provide a personalized ad based on what you like and want.
• Fellger: With the amount of data collected and potential uses of it, he stressed that we still need to work with a lot of rules and syntax to control personal safety and set limits on decisions that technology can make.

Topic: Mobile devices

• Safa: He states that although your phone is smart and other appliances are currently dumb, that will change. His examples included a pill box that will remind you to take or reorder medication plus a washer and dryer that will know when it's about to break down and then will send you an alert.
• Fellger: Jokingly, he fears when his coffee machine will unfriend him on social media.

Topic: Future happening now and examples of how we're using it
• Smith: His example was about using Microsoft gadgets plus open-source programming for micro-controllers to create a "manufacturer sandbox."
• Fellger: The future is the M2M market (Machine-to-Machine), where each device has an IP address. Communication carriers recognize this trend and are becoming more involved. In fact, China announced they want to own this market of embedding technology into products. There will be more screens in products and more content displayed.
• Safa: One future technology will be when your refrigerator learns your behavior and monitors your food, it will order replacements. As marketers, we can learn what individuals like from the behavioral data collected and use it appropriately to help the consumer.
• Fellger: In his experience at an agency, brands are good to work with but their IT departments are not ready. IT has to be involved with R&D from the beginning.
• Safa: His evidence that the future is happening now comes from the fact that 40 billion apps have been downloaded since inception, and 20 billion of those apps were downloaded in the last year. To prepare for the future, we need to look at how we market and how users actually use the apps.
• Stansbury: In his opinion, control is still a major issue and how much you want to give up to technology and marketers.
• Fellger: Another concern with how we're using new technology is the security issues. He warns his clients to enter this world slowly and learn as you go. He recommends that marketers watch and learn how users adapt to the technology, and then make decisions accordingly.
• Safa: When it comes to using future technology, all individuals will make decisions about what technology to bring into their lives.
• Fellger: As a company, you need programmers to see how far you can manipulate and hack into these new devices to truly learn what you can do with them.

Topic: Q&A - Random questions from the audience
• Safa: In response to a question about how to start using augmented reality, Maani replied that as a mobile company, it's about telling a story. Using augmented reality in advertising is about moving past the concept stage into the utility stage to tell the story of the product.
• Feller: When asked about challenges with developing futuristic solutions for clients, he stated that the challenge is the investment in research and who owns what in the process. Many times a large client challenges his team about what CAN be done, then expects them to create innovative solutions.
• Stansbury: A question was asked about what his company was working on, and then he responded that they're doing a lot of work around creating pilots and sample products, then finding a client to take the risks and invest in trying them.
• Safa: He was asked about how they create solutions. He said it's all about "Proof of Concepting". For example, Red Bull asked for a revolutionary wristband for events; a wristband that collects data and changes colors as the user achieves goals or makes purchases. To create it, they first had to try it in a small room, then a big room, then pilot the product at an event.

Summary: My point of view from the session

As an advertising agency strategist, I was excited to learn about the futuristic solutions that we can provide for our clients. Capturing data, whether on a website or device, is critical to delivering a personalized experience and helping consumers with their decision making. The augmented reality demonstrations generated many ideas for me on how we can use direct mail and print pieces as a "trigger image" to start a video or augmented layer of animation on the user's device (phone or tablet). We're already experimenting with the augmented reality application from Aurasma and look forward to implementing this new Interactive Marketing Service in our clients' future campaigns.


augmented reality, Aurasma, digital, future, emerging technology, Online Marketing, SXSW
Randy Everett

Written by Randy Everett

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