SXSW 2015: All The Lab Coverage

Over the five days of this year’s SXSW Interactive, the Lab team produced a prolific amount of original reports, recaps, and trend round-ups, all listed below for quick indexing or catching up.


On-location Recaps:

In Review:


IPG Lab Releases SXSW 2015 Trend Recap

Download our recap deck here.

Every year, the IPG Media Lab attends SXSW in Austin, Texas, to meet promising startups and attend interesting panels in order to monitor developing media trends. This year, we noticed two key themes: personalization and immersion, both led by the proliferation of mobile devices and aided by other emerging interfaces. And brands can leverage these trends into a deeper connection with their audience, but only if they know how.

To learn more about the trends we saw at SXSW 2015, download our recap deck here.


SXSW 2015: E-Commerce Is The New Publishing

With the total democratization of ecommerce, Rachel Youens of Wanelo believes online retailers should look to publishing for advice. When online media first appeared and proliferated, tools lowered the entry barrier to effectively zero. Blogs enabled content creation to be so easy that for awhile, it became almost impossible not to be a publisher.

The downside was that there were too many places to consume content. Blogs diffused across the Internet, and didn’t consolidate well. Social media changed that — instead of an XML or RSS feed, social feeds like Twitter enable a curated stream of media. This has led to some scaled success, like BuzzFeed, and some consolidation. Whatever the media revolution was, it is no longer that easy to become a publisher.

Youens thinks ecommerce is following a similar trajectory. Tools like Etsy and Shopify have enabled a revolution, allowing a massive proliferation of small online retailers. At the same time, it is difficult to scale such an industry. This is why platforms like Amazon, Pinterest and Polyvore — so-called shopping search engines — are gaining in popularity. Successful ecommerce businesses are creating different profiles on each site, much like publishers did with social platforms during the second phase of the media revolution.

The tipping point, Youens believes, has arrived. In order to stay ahead of the curve, ecommerce needs to adapt to become part of the new ecosystem — robust feeds, native platform integration, accessible messaging, as consolidation won’t be far behind.

SXSW 2015: Solutions for Augmented and Virtual Reality

The nexus of virtual and augmented reality is one of the most interesting topics at SXSW, and content creators are currently exploring the new tools. Augmented reality (“AR”) like Google Glass and Microsoft HoloLens, is a way of transmitting digital content into the real world. Virtual reality (“VR”), as used by Oculus and Samsung, is completely immersive. Both can create great, consumable content, but in the coming years, brand will need to understand and execute on the best use cases for each. For instance, DAQRI, an augmented reality developer working in industrial and enterprise-grade solutions, believes that the enclosed environment of virtual reality is best suited toward immersive experiences, while augmented reality is best when needing to interface with the world around the audience.

But it’s not just brands who are interested in AR and VR; consumers are becoming more active in the space as well. Video multi-channel network Machinima is attempting to bridge the gap between user-generated content and the new space. “You can’t create a medium with a lot of content if 1% of the population has the tools to do so,” admitted Machinima CEO Allen DeBevoise. Brands may be able to pay for expensive and beautiful VR content, but if the public can’t create its own, there may be a small audience.

Zombies and Cats and BBQs: The Coolest Stuff From SXSW 2015

Rounding out our SXSW coverage this year, here is the Lab’s pick for the coolest stuff we saw in the past few days at SXSW Interactive:

  • Friskies’ Bacon Flavored Cat Food
    Friskies showcased their new bacon-flavored cat food with their “Haus of Bacon”, where guests played with famous felines like Grumpy the Cat, enjoyed cat portraits made from bacon, dry cat food, and Friskies packaging.
  • CW Promotes iZombie With Edible 3D-Printed Brains
    To promote the new comedy series, iZombie, CW, and Buzzfeed partnered to host a launch party where attendees were offered 3D-printed candy with varying flavors based on their pre-scanned brainwaves.
  • Equinox Integrates Digital Data Into Class
    Equinox integrated digital data shown in the form of games to encourage action in their new fitness classes. The instructor is able to monitor all data on an iPad-equipped bike and participants are able to view the data on a mobile app to track their progress and set goals.
  • Yahoo’s On-Demand Passwords
    Yahoo released an on-demand sign in option available in the United States. Once opted in, the Yahoo user will receive a unique password right to their mobile phone each time they’re ready to sign in.
  • Yoga Replaces Coffee and Happy Hour
    This year Yoga took over the usual coffee meetings and happy hours as the dominating way to socialize with potential clients. Brands like Swarovski and Misfit participated in a “Digital Detox”. Similarly, Pandora hosted Hip Hop Yoga, and Yahoo Health offered a morning reboot session with CorePower Yoga.
  • GE Tracks Brainwaves During BBQ Tastings
    General Electric’s research arm set up 12-foot tall sensor-laden BBQ smoker and a BBQ tasting room called “Brain on BBQ”, where SXSW-goers can taste a variety of barbecued items while wearing EEG headbands to track how their brainwaves changes.