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Video Trends to Watch for at SXSW 2016

Posted on: March 7, 2016
By: Charlie Rall

You may have heard of a little media festival called SXSW….

If you have attended SXSW in the past then you know the magnitude of it. If you haven’t been, then it is hard to explain the scale of the festival and the impact it really has here in Austin. It is pure insanity. Traffic is backed up for miles, music is blasting on every corner, the streets are flooded with people – it is truly a nightmare. (As locals we are obligated to complain at least once in this article.)

But the fanfare aside, SXSW is really an amazing experience. YouTubers, movie stars, tech junkies, CEOs, indie bands, rappers, fanboys, and brand teams from all over the world rub elbows in the streets of Austin, Texas. There are hundreds of panels and parties and endless opportunities to get a pulse on the state of media in the world today. It is also a chance to see where it is going.

The past year has been huge for digital video. We have seen the rise of new video driven social media platforms, milestones in the lives of media outlets like Buzzfeed, new production and content distribution technology, and so much more. We have Vine stars as guests on the Ellen show, people. Asimov and Bradbury never saw that coming.

Riding this wave of new media, we predict there is going to be a ton of new developments in branded video emerging from this year’s SXSW. Here are our top trends to watch out for:

Virtual Reality is officially a big thing

VR has grown from gimmicky concept to rough technology to a force to be reckoned with in the new media space. It is happening and it is coming probably faster than anyone thought. SXSW has an entire track of panels and discussions specifically for VR/AR this year.

We’re going to see bigger, better developments in VR tech this year. VR development and content creation is going to spread from a handful of insiders and early adopters to a larger pool of content creators. I think it is still too early on for brands to get very involved with creating advertising content, but it is something we are going to see more of in the next 3 to 5 years. VR has huge potential for eCommerce. It is the next and potentially ultimate step for giving customers a tangible product shopping experience online, but I don’t think we’ll see that being very widespread for another 5 to 10 years. The content creation capabilities are there, but not the distribution and user adoption just yet.

Panels to check out:
Video 2026: Innovation, Ubiquity and More Slow-Mo

Creating Lifelike Presence in VR

New York Times Reality Through VR-Tinted Glasses

Advertising on Video Streaming Apps

We’re in the age of “sharing”. People love to share in real time using social media apps like Snapchat, Periscope, Meerkat, and Beme. These platforms have been cautious to roll out advertising too quickly so they can hold on to their trusting user base and grow. Snapchat has already started experimenting with paid advertising and onboarded a few top tier brands like MTV and Victoria’s Secret to have access to premium native content distribution.

We’re going to see a lot of discussion this year about how brands can get in on the live streaming platforms like Periscope and Meerkat. Some major brands have already done some cool and successful streams (like Spotify streaming private artist sessions). But what are ways that smaller brands can take advantage of the platform? How can paid advertising integrate with these apps in a way that doesn’t scare off their user bases too soon?

Panels to check out:
Can Periscope Equal Profit?

Short Form Filmmaking: Stars of Social Media

What does a media company look like today?

Buzzfeed and their competitors like Refinery29 and Elite Daily have redefined what it means to be a media company in this millennium. They have transcended the status of convenient internet time wasters to become news and lifestyle outlets fetching a pretty penny from advertisers. But what does their future look like?

We’re going to see older media behemoths like the New York Times going more aggressively after Buzzfeed’s model. More and more niche sites will pop up and grow. I think we’ll see a lot more “video first” focused sites where written content is on the backburner. Without the limiting structure of “hard” or “breaking” news these outlets have a lot more opportunity with niche content and I think there is room for everyone, which means advertising costs will come down. You’ll be able to reach a more targeted audience with branded content and see better, more clearly defined results. That’s good news for marketers as they continue to need more concrete ways of demonstrating content’s ROI to their bosses.

Panels to check out:
Creating the Modern Media Company

The Future of Media Companies

Digital Storytelling

What would a media conference be without another discussion around storytelling? The conversation continues every year and for good reason. Storytelling is the basis of all media. It is a basic human need to grasp things through stories.

We’ve seen advertising shift in the past few years in a big way. We’re seeing traditional advertising selling products through stories and we’re seeing more and more original content from brands. The conversation this year is going to be much more video focused as all these new technologies and platforms have emerged. How can we tell meaningful stories through live streams? How can we make six second vines touch people’s hearts and not just crack them up? How can we tell stories better in this digital age?

Panels to check out:
Humans, Not Machines. Content is About Connecting

Creating a Meaningful Dialogue Through Video

SXSW will be amazing this year. It is a chance for marketers, brands, artists, and fans to come together and shape the media landscape. So let the snap, vine, insta, tweet, scope fest begin. And if you’re in the area, stop by the StoryCraft offices to grab a beer and say hi.


About The Author:

Charlie Rall is the Co-Founder and Head Producer of StoryCraft

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