Brands are at SXSW, too, including Patagonia, Mike’s Hard Lemonade and Porsche. And the major streaming companies including Paramount+, Peacock, Apple TV+ and Roku will have activations.
SXSW is only just getting back on its feet after a two-year hiatus during the COVID pandemic—this will be its second live festival since returning to somewhat normal. Agencies are expected to send their usual contingents, but the economic climate could make travel and expenses harder to justify.
The event is still known for covering bleeding-edge topics and it has sparked big moments in tech. Twitter took off there in 2007; Foursquare in 2009; 2015 was a year that livestreaming took over social media; and last year, Austin was inundated with NFT creators such as Doodles and Fluf World.
Below, what to expect at this year’s gathering.
AI is in
AI is set to replace NFTs as SXSW’s hottest acronym.
“I think this will be the year of ChatGPT, generative AI,” said Laura Mignott, global chief experiential officer, VMLY&R Commerce, adding that it would be interesting to see AI being used to moderate panels and other applications. “I think the possibilities are endless and it will be cool to see how [and] why they get utilized,” she continued.
Since last year’s SXSW, AI has taken off in the ad world, and ChatGPT, the chatbot developed by OpenAI, has entered the lexicon. Microsoft, Google, Meta, Snap and other internet companies are competing to launch products and services with AI. And advertising creatives are interested in how AI will transform the landscape.
The topics of SXSW’s panels were set last year, before the wave of AI talk swept through the community, but that doesn’t mean people won’t be talking about it.
“There are many panels on AI and ChatGPT and, considering ChatGPT’s rise since the panel picker closed, I imagine the conversation will be even more robust than the lineup suggests,” said Megan Trinidad, VP, executive creative director, product and experience at R/GA.
“It’s obvious to anyone paying attention that generative AI is changing industries as we speak,” explained Katie Klumper, CEO and Founder of CMO consultancy Black Glass. “The immediate impact on the attendee experience of the events will certainly be a flood of thought leadership on the topic.”