Winning at SXSW and the moments that matter

Ben Kidney, Ogilvy Melbourne
By Ben Kidney, Ogilvy Melbourne | 12 March 2016

Head of digital at Ogilvy Melbourne, Ben Kidney, who joined Ogilvy Melbourne in December 2015 following a stint as Executive Producer at R/GA New York, reports his day by day experiences at SXSW.

Day one: I’m going to win at SXSW by not doing what I did last time I was here. That included a Margarita crawl that started mid-morning, only networking with my then colleagues and committing various other crimes against my career. I did do something right though, I ate BBQ for breakfast every day; that’s something I’ll stick to. 

Now that the confession is out of the way, I’m ready to redeem myself and win at SXSW 2016. I hope that you will come along with me for the ride. 

So much of what I want to hear, learn and get out of SXSW this year seems to be happening at the same time; managing schedule conflicts is difficult at probably all SXSWs. I'm feeling slightly overwhelmed, however, with my SXSW app loaded and reminders set I’m ready to launch myself into the fray.

What better way to win at SXSW that to go see a talk with the title of ‘Invisible Influence and Winning at SXSW’ by Jonah Berger (author of Invisible Influence)? Jonah cast a behavioural science lens over the SXSW festival. Behavioural science is an emerging discipline to sit specifically within advertising agencies and is a very interesting space; I’m consistently impressed by my engagements with the discipline and look for every opportunity to engage with the discipline. It was very interesting to hear and see behavioural science principles at play at the conference.

A consistent (and healthy) conversation I find myself having with clients, planners, and partners like Google is around consumer engagement planning and opportunities to communicate with consumers in moments when they need or want us. Google coined the term 'zero moment of truth' or ZMOT in 2011 off the back of a study determining that the customer journey to purchase was changing (so this thinking is not new).

The fundamentals of this thinking are in place and brands who understand this and invest in their digital ecosystem (particularly in mobile) have faired well in the past five years. However the lofty ambition of relevance and value add, whether through utility or communications, evolve and become more expansive as fast as the technology and channel landscape does. With the emergence of the Internet of Things (IoT), engagement moments become infinite.

So as you can imagine I was interested to see Brian Wong, the founder of Kiip, talk about the future of advertising when it converges with IoT. We’re talking about connected cars, houses, fridges, our bodies - connected everything.

The IoT doesn’t yet have a formulated set of best practice principles or formats like established channels, such as the 30 second TVC or a 728x90 banner. Kiip advocates for, what I believe, are a set of excellent and common sense principles for the IoT era and engaging with consumers. These principles can be put simply and are as follows: respect the consumer, align the device most appropriate to the human need and then serve the appropriate message or automated action at the optimal moment. An example of this might be your fridge notifying you and then ordering milk prior to the expiry date being reached, or your car purchasing movie tickets for you while on the way to the cinema.

The IoT is vast and largely unexplored by most of us however it will be just another innovative (albeit infinite) vehicle for delivering messages and providing value to consumers.

To close out the day and continue the theme of connected moments, I joined the Facebook session on ‘Marketing to Moments that Matter’ delivered with enthusiasm by Ann Mack, global head of content and activation. Key take-outs were that mobile is the dominant device and Facebook have the data and the platform to deliver brand messages at these moments.

I’ve always been an advocate for the Australian marketing and advertising industry, I have always felt that for the most part we punch above our weight when it comes to smarts and creativity. And I come away from day one convinced that the areas we are focusing on and the current conversation between agencies, clients and our respective partners are the right ones. Not only that, we are at the forefront; the barrier we face is resourcing and scale. Planning and executing for the moments that matter is labour intensive and not always the first business priority.

Ben Kidney, head of digital Ogilvy Melbourne. To check out day two of his SXSW blog, click here.

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