Five Takeaways from SXSW 2022

From NFTs to Birds Aren’t Real, the South by Southwest conference always highlights the latest trends in tech, culture and media. Here are five insights our team took away from this year’s conference. 

Shifts in Content

The traditional film release schedule – 90 days in-theater, then to DVD, then streaming – is dead, as content producers alter go-to-market strategies to mirror consumer behaviors. Now, streaming providers (Netflix, Hulu, etc.) are creating their own feature films and original series to keep consumers on their respective platforms. In fact, in 2020 streaming platforms created more original series than cable. Although streaming continues to rise in popularity, User-generated Content (UGC), such as TikTok and YouTube, has more weekly media usage at 87% than subscription-based streaming at 82%. Does your media strategy complement linear buys with a strong presence on streaming extensions like Connected TV (CTV) and Over The Top (OTT)? Have you dipped your brand’s toes into TikTok yet? Ensure your strategies are shifting alongside the consumption landscape.

The Rise of Social Commerce

Shopping behaviors have evolved beyond the more decisive, need-based habits of years ago. Now, consumers are always in “browsing mode” thanks to the rise of content sharing and social media. With AR (augmented reality) and AI (artificial intelligence) it’s also even easier to impulse buy, with the ability to virtually try on products and purchase directly from the social platforms. These AR and AI functionalities of ecommerce also provide inspiration for NFT add-ons which extend a product’s usage to the digital world. How can your brand provide value via NFTs? Can your products live in the digital realm – or is there an avenue where your product set can evolve to meet the demand in this new space?

Video Is King

Each year reports come out about people’s shortening attention spans, which shrunk from 12 seconds in 2000 to 8.5 in 2015. And in 2022 brands now have just 2.5 seconds to catch a viewer’s attention. This decrease in attention span has increased the importance of engaging video content. The combination of music, dialogue and visuals allows videos to create an emotional response faster, pulling in viewers. We’ve seen this proven as TikTok surpassed Google as the most popular platform in 2021, and as Instagram shifted its focus to Reels. Brands should ensure that short-form video is a key part of their messaging strategy.

Utilizing VR’s Full Potential

As VR (virtual reality) continues to become more mainstream, it’s important for brands to keep the purpose of the tech top of mind when creating these experiences. Vicki Back at ILMxLAB learned this while working on the Vader Immortal VR series. She said, “If the experience would be the same if the content was just a video, then you aren’t taking full advantage of the technology.” VR experiences should be more than just watching the story unfold in front of the viewer, but instead the viewer should be an integral part of the story.

The Nicheness of the Internet

The internet is increasingly becoming a place where communities can form around the most specific interest. Take Birds Aren’t Real for example, a satirical conspiracy-theory-turned-political-movement founded in 2017 after a viral Facebook post. In the past five years this movement has gained hundreds of thousands of loyal supporters (who show up to protest, buy merch and defend the brand) by playing into Gen Z’s absurdist sense of humor. How could your brand be tapping into these unique communities? One example is Chipotle, which engaged with gamers by hosting its annual “Boorito” event in the mega-popular game Roblox.


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