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Tracking the evolution of content publishing at #SXSW

3 min read

Digital Technology

There’s an industry gathering for everything these days: Cannes, CES, Social Media Week, and my new personal favorite, South by Southwest.

Although all tend to appeal to marketers, CES historically has been the most technology-driven, whereas SXSW has owned the culture and entertainment space (due to its three-pronged nature of Interactive, Film and Music). However, this year’s festival seemed particularly focused on technology — virtual reality, mobile shopping apps, and beacons dominated sessions and conversations.

Technology and advertising have long gone hand-in-hand. From radio to TV and the Internet, innovation has undoubtedly affected the context in which brands reach their consumers. More interestingly, I’d argue, is the influence of technology on media.

Millennials are particularly familiar with the evolution of media. We’ve been through it all — from e-mail to chat rooms to Myspace and Facebook, YouTube and Snapchat, Twitter and Instagram, and — gasp — Meerkat.

Rather than focus on what wearables or beacon tech means for consumers, at SXSW, I chose to learn more about the future of distributed media, in a session led by BuzzFeed’s Summer Anne Burton.

In the packed session, Burton spoke about the evolution of BuzzFeed, sharing examples of how the content publishing platform has optimized its digital and social channels to drive increased success. Down to the ad format and user experience, Burton described how certain types of content performed significantly better on some channels than other.

During the session, Burton listed out some of the BuzzFeed best practices. Among them was: “Assume everyone is on their phone.” As a result of mobility, media has undoubtedly adapted to better accommodate contextualized experiences. Apps like Foursquare and Google Field Trip have in recent years provided unique opportunities for marketers to share content with consumers.

Following in the footsteps of live update platforms such as Twitter and video consumption services like Hulu, it’s evident how Meerkat and live-streaming apps will change the way people consumer video on a day-to-day basis. We’ve already begun to see popular industry trades and forward-thinking brands adopt Meerkat, pushing out live streams to fellow marketers.

But how might wearables change the way users interact on their favorite social platforms? What new channels might emerge in wake of the smartwatch? I’d argue that dictation and morse-code behavior could drive future content in a hands-free consumer world.

For content publishers, this means further adapting, to accommodate the user in the best way possible.

“Marketer” today is becoming increasingly synonymous with “technophile.” However, it’s important that despite our love for technological innovation, we must not forget our inner media enthusiast, too.

Allyssa Kaiser is an account executive at digital and social advertising agency MRY.