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SXSW Interactive 2016: Trends to Watch

April 20th, 2016   ||    by Callie Wheeler

As the dust settles from last month’s SXSW Interactive event, you may hear some buzzwords surrounding virtual reality experiences, robotics, and other tech innovations. But what does that have to do with broadcast TV and advertising? Ahead are three key takeaways from this year’s event and what they mean for our industry.

Privacy Matters

President Obama’s keynote at this year’s Interactive made headlines, as he was not only the first president to speak, but also the first to attend. The president praised the innovation that comes out of the event and argued for using some of that talent to improve government. But as re/code reported, President Obama also addressed privacy issues, including the encryption debate started by Apple’s public refusal to unlock its iPhones.

So why does this matter to the media and advertising industries? It shows that privacy is still a huge issue without all the answers. As technology evolves, advertisers and media providers have access to more data about consumers than ever before. It’s important that this access is met with intentional choices about how to treat and understand privacy, as consumers really do care.

Personalization Is the Ticket

Every year at SXSW Interactive, startups and corporations alike debut new products. This year’s Best of Show winner at the Innovation Awards was one such startup called Doppler Labs. As USA Today reported, their “Here Active Listening System” provides an entirely personalized listening experience. The wireless earbuds and app allow you to choose what noises to amplify, apply effects to change sound in real time, and adjust the volume to your settings.

What does this mean for broadcast and advertisers? Personalization is still a big winner, and there are no signs that it will stop. Consumers have come to expect personalization, as online ads are frequently catered to their activity, social media displays what is relevant, and quizzes can generate personalized recommendations.

Advertisers and broadcasters should look for ways to personalize their messages, through programmatic TV, audience segmentation, and data-driven marketing.

Adapt to Thrive

SXSW Interactive featured several innovations in tech that were the stuff of sci-fi books, including virtual reality and robotics. As Forbes reported, virtual reality, or VR tech, was represented by a number of companies, while the robotics trend seemed to focus on humanoid robots and transportation tech.

The biggest conversation around transportation centered on autonomous vehicles, with Google’s self-driving cars division even presenting at the conference.

The takeaway here is that technological innovation is constantly changing daily life. Even if autonomous vehicles or VR tech are years away from popular adoption, it’s important to understand them and how they can affect our industry.

What if the commute becomes a popular time to watch TV? How does that change broadcast programming or advertising? We need to adapt to innovation to be successful.

SXSW Interactive continues to be relevant, and not just to the tech industry. This year’s conference sheds light on the possibilities for the future, and it looks like they’re coming quickly.

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