Food for thought from SXSW Interactive Festival

April 17, 2014


So I’m going to hold my hands up to thinking SXSW was just a really cool music festival taking place across the pond, thanks to the IPA I’ve been enlightened to that fact it’s so much more.  It’s actually a festival of three parts – music, film and interactive (for those who didn’t know).

Anth and I (Lou) went along to a talk by the IPA last week that reviewed key takeaways from the interactive festival. First up was Nigel Gwilliam who took us on a journey of conspiracy theories and espionage. I’ll be honest, I wondered where it was going when he mentioned the headline speakers were: Edward Snowden, Julian Assange, Glen Greenwald and Time Berners. At first I couldn’t see the relevance for advertising bods. It wasn’t long before the link became very apparent – data. You see, as an industry we rely on data collection to find out about how people behave, what they like, don’t like, when they’re browsing, when they’re most likely to make a purchase, the list goes on. What Mr. Snowden et al are asking for is for the tech community to make data more secure, so it’s harder for spies, and us, to collect. It was this sudden realisation that caused a stir in the room. If we can’t collect data, how can we target people effectively? It’s at the very core of what we do.

Just as the panic hit Nigel handed over to Lauren Hewitt who took us through the latest apps and gadgets which ranged from a headband that can sense when you lose focus, then help you regain focus, to an app which lets you know how well you’ve performed in the bedroom! And guess what these things all rely on? Data.

So where does this leave us? On one side we’ve got a call for the tech community to develop ways to prevent data collection and on the other, new technologies emerging which rely on data collection. The answer is responsible handling of data by the likes of us. 86% of people are more likely to use a brand they trust to use their data responsibly.  What they don’t like is it being taken without being asked or in a way that leaves them at risk. They also know their data is valuable so they want rewarded for allowing us to have it. As an industry we need to stand up and take notice and take action now.

This video from Intel highlights the importance of Big Data, just in case you were in any doubt