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Trends and Takeaways from SXSW 2024 — Amp Agency

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What Christine and I learned and how we will guide our clients

As Amp launched its new identity last week, we had the opportunity to showcase our new brand at SXSW. This was my second SXSW, and I hadn’t been since before the pandemic. For my partner-in-crime, Christine, this was her first SXSW experience. Like many, we found it refreshing to be “back in action,” making meaningful connections and checking out some immersive experiences throughout the festival. Call us if you were there and had the patience to stand in line for the Sharpie house on Rainey Street! We want to know what we missed!

Since Christine and I always look for new ideas and inspiration for our team, we checked out a session focused on emerging technology and marketing trends. 

As marketers and, specifically, agency professionals, the pressure to stay on top of emerging trends gets more aggressive by the minute. We are responsible for presenting trends to our clients and providing a thorough POV on whether or not our clients should test these trends. Over the years, we’ve helped clients successfully test new social platforms (from Tiktok to Threads), new media approaches (like Cookie-less targeting, personalization, DCO), and the latest tech (DMP, CDP, AR, VR, AI… you name it). With that said, we’ve also seen many trends come and go; many even fall flat (who thought Google Plus was going to be a thing?). 

So, how do we predict which trends are here to stay and worth trying out? The session we attended titled “Beyond the Buzz: Navigating Hype Cycles in Advertising” explored the answer to this question. The speaker, Noor Naseer, broke down how trends emerge, when they succeed or fail, and how to determine whether the trend is worth considering. 

As Christine and I represent Amp’s business development team, we are intrigued by different presentation styles. Naseer’s approach was a perfect combination of scientific and casual—I was entertained by her reminiscing about failed trends like the Juicero machine and Theranos. Her use of storytelling throughout the session made the content easy to grasp and translatable to our work. 

To summarize, we walked away with some key takeaways:

  • As digital marketers, we see innovations, technologies, trends, and hype, but everything that is hyped is not necessarily innovative
  • Hype happens abruptly but typically follows a simple timeline in which expectations of the trend peak after an initial “technology trigger” and then plateau over time. 
  • When evaluating a trend, key questions are: Is the product available? What’s the required investment? What utility does this provide? How does this support business objectives? What triggered the hype cycle? Is this a smart advertising strategy for us to explore?

We see even more potential when leveraging data, AI, and our technology to guide this decision-making. Coming out of the session and meeting with Ampers across our tech teams, account, innovation, and media, some areas we are now exploring: 

  • How can we use search engine listening to predict a hype cycle? 
  • Can we leverage AI to complement our POVs on trends? 
  • How quickly can we build a model to determine recommendations for our clients? 

We work with clients across key industries like CPG, retail, fashion, and hospitality—many of which we provide digital services (media, social, product development, etc.). Our clients across these industries strive to be successful early adopters of digital trends. We’re excited to partner with our clients to test our trend predictions. 

Christine and I enjoyed the content and the opportunity to connect with industry peers throughout the session and the weekend. Until next year, SXSW, thanks for having us!

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