Check out our “Shingerview” with AOL’s Digital Prophet David Shing! 

HuffPo posted about the experience too - check it out below!

Austin is a blueberry in a bowl of tomato soup. The SX experience just took us to another level.  After arriving home and pondering on the SX experience, there’s so much we need to re-cap!

Here are the highlights of what we saw, and what we thought about it:

Day 1

 Facebook Session with Blake Chandlee 

Blake Chandlee (VP, Global Partnerships) had a quote that really resonated with us as a Millennials: “people don’t dislike advertising; they dislike bad advertising”. Our chat about Facebook’s future international impact and the implications of their acquisition of Whats App! was also super interesting.

Super Fandom in the Digital Age with Andy Cohen, Grace Helbig, Tyler Oakley and Ze Frank

We were familiar with some of theses Internet celebrities and were interested in what they had to say, but wish the questions were more focused on building digital fan bases. 

Day 2

Emoji & Texting: Is Human Language Extinct?Ben Zimmer and Sam Huston  

We chose this session because it had an interesting title. They discussed the power of an image, which we think is incredibly important, especially when talking to Millennials. A take away: “Show a photo and it becomes emotional.” Though we may speak different languages, emotion is a universal language that connects the world. This solidifies the importance of imagery in emotional advertising.

Emojis are a fun way of communicating with pictures, and they certainly are not going anywhere. We use emojis on a daily basis, and we think they are here to stay. More about the human and psychological side of sharing emojis and what that says about our society would have been interesting. 

Disrupting the Gun Lobby with Digital Organization - Mark Glaze, Pia Carusone, Shannon Watts, Stephen Geer

This session was incredibly interesting in showing the various ways social media and digital data have helped gun law activists organize their groups and communicate their messages. The big takeaway was the impact crowdsourced content can have for a grassroots movements. Grassroots marketing resonates with us.

6 Degrees of Kevin BaconBrian Turtle, Kevin Bacon

Our favorite line: “Simply being connected to each other isn’t enough, we have to take action.” Growing up in this connected world of social media is one reason Millennials have such a strong love of philanthropy. We see how much of an impact we can make from afar. The Bacon session really sold this idea. Kevin Bacon also serves as a good example of how to use your name and claim to fame. His website has helped give so much back to the community and those in need, and that’s awesome. 

Humanizing Technology and Using Innovation for Goood -Emad Tahtouh, Tim Buessing

This session showed how technology can have social impact. A petition  was signed by thousands digitally and became a hit on social networks, particularly Facebook. Very cool!

Day 3

Running the Show: TVs New Queen of Comedy - Adam Pally, Anne Fulenwider, Ike Bairnholtz and Mindy Kaling

A favorite panel at SXSW. One key takeaway from this panel was that diversity and the emphasis on the minority gets too much attention in Hollywood. Good content is good content, regardless of who comes up with it.

Augmented Reality and Algorithms -Alan Holden, Carmen Medina, Christian Doolin, Vignon Zinsou

This panel brought to the table a discussion on the future of augmented reality and how it relates to government surveillance. We loved hearing various opinions from people about the nature of privacy in a state that is increasingly able to track and its population.  There are many helpful ways tools like Goggle Glass can help government agents, but the issue of privacy and government rights always is in play.

The Secrets Behind Addictive Storytelling - Bob DiBitteto, Joanna Coles,Terry Wood, Jonathan Perelman

Just the title really grabs your attention, which is why we picked it. The words “secrets,” “addictive” and “storytelling” all in one title is bound to get any Millennial’s vote. Seriously, 75% of everything these panelists said was quotable. We struggled internally with whether to tweet or listen. We’re so inspired by the steps all of these companies have taken to ensure their content is relevant to their audiences – particularly Millennials.

Day 4 

Foursquare SessionJameson Pine, Leah Malone, Peter Scordo

Our favorite quote: “Location is the new cookie.”  In our research, we found that the lack of relevancy of ads just based on online behavior, alone, was aggravating. Ads become irrelevant after you buy the product, then just annoying. 

#Occupygezi Movement: A Turkish Twitter RevolutionEda Demir, Yalcin Pembecioglu

These speakers talked about the impact of Twitter on the 2013 protests in Turkey. We were interested in this panel because we had just come from a meeting with Foursquare in which, after asking about Foursquare’s international impact, we were told that Turkey was a highly connected state with many smart phone users. The 2013 protests provided a landscape on which legal restrictions and democratic journalism went head to head, and Twitter, which was illegal to use during the protests, ended up helping the movement gain mass traction across Istanbul.

Do Algorithms Dream of Viral Content? - David Carr, Eli Pariser

This panel was probably one of our favorites of the whole trip. The founder of Upworthy, Eli Pariser spoke about his site, which aggregates viral video content with the goal of promoting social good. Sites like Upworthy, who have learned to game the Facebook algorithm in order to receive higher click-rates, are incredibly interesting since it seems that many Millennials are subject to using these sites for news.

Other Cool Stuff: 

GoDaddy Picks Up the Bill

The lunch we had after our session with AOL was amazing! GoDaddy executed a promotion that paid for our entire meal! What a great way to build favorable brand attitudes. The only thing we would have liked to see was some sort of pay it forward initiative, considering there are a lot of people out there who probably needed a free meal way more than we did. We’d even recommend Perla’s restaurant for its innovative partnership.

Great food + great example of real-time marketing = 5 new Twitter fans of GoDaddy

Undertone Bus


The Undertones Bus was an amazing showing of what to expect from the future of technology. Life will certainly be easier and more efficient when the technology Undertones shared with us hits the market. A favorite demonstration was the personally curated virtual shopping kiosk. It makes going to the mall so much simpler!

A Marketing Miss: Oreo Machine

Oreo does so many clever things these days, and this was another GREAT idea, but poor execution.  The lines were long and the machine kept breaking down. Innovative technology should make sure it delivers.

Yahoo! – Channing Jones

Today, some of us met up with:

Ali D’Andrea: Marketing Partnerships Strategy Manager, Julie Triolo: Director of Product Marketing, and Beverly Jackson: Sr. Director/Head of Social Marketing at Yahoo! to discuss current tactics the company is employing to target Millennials.

Our content consumption is completely fragmented, and Yahoo is definitely keying into the way we consume this content in order to ensure their platforms are relevant. Below are a couple of Yahoo’s new product launches and marketing tactics I think have tapped into the Millennial mindset:

Millennials continue to access their news-related content through curated sites like BuzzFeed, social and user-generated platforms such as Twitter and reddit, as well as online news sites like CNN, Fox, and The Huffington Post/HuffPost Live. However, were often looking for ways to consume this content as quickly and effectively as possible. Enter the newly-launched Yahoo News Digest mobile app, which uses an algorithm to summarize the most vital components of news stories via a seamless, user-friendly experience.

Takeaway: As a Millennial that already consumes her news content through theSkimm, another content-summarizing source and daily newsletter, this strategy of enabling easy access to quick, “snackable” content to young adults is an effective one. Providing a minimalistic and user-friendly interface is also critical, in order to avoid the dreaded app delete gesture.

Yahoo is also planning “On the Road with Yahoo,” a mobile music tour geared toward college-aged students on college campuses. When brands can find an opportunity to connect with Millennials through music and live events, this tactic presents a much more authentic scenario for brands to facilitate a two-way conversation with us. Millennials also love free swag distributed at events and will often engage in tweeting, using hashtags, or live-posting to receive this branded merchandise.

However, brands that can organically incorporate a philanthropic tie-in to their events will definitely foster more genuine conversations with us. In this case, we wouldn’t be tweeting just for the free t-shirt; we’d be interacting with a brand because we support brands that help support other causes we believe in. At SXSW, we loved that Nestle Purina PetCare enlisted the help of Internet meme sensation, Grumpy Cat, and her Twitter feed to donate an additional meal (up to 25k for a total of 50k) to Austin animal shelters for every use of the hashtag #HolyShrimp. Holy shrimp, that’s awesome.


Takeaway: Millennials love attending concerts and see this as one of the more non-invasive venues a brand can use to interact with young adults. We also prefer brands that take advantage of these live events as an opportunity to support philanthropic causes that resonate with the brand’s audience.

We also let Yahoo! ask us a few questions. Here’s the Q & A:

"How do Millennials feel about being tweeted at by brands?"

            Answer:  It depends on what they are doing.  If they are just tweeting “Hey check us out!,” we find it annoying.  If they are telling us about special deals or special offers about things we want then we appreciate it.  If we have tweeted something about the brand and get a personal message back, we also like that.

“What kinds of promotions resonate with Millennials?”

            Answer:  Millennials love free stuff, be it content, experiences, electronics or t-shirts. We appreciate it when advertisers take the time to figure out what kind of things we like.  We also like coupons and deals on merchandise we want.

Beverly Jackson described the Yahoo road concert tour that involved that was done in Europe.  ”Would this type of promotion resonate with Millennials in the U.S.?”

            Answer: YES!  It includes the things that we like, free things, music, the opportunity to participate in a unique group experience.  We would love to be part of this and would love it if the tour stopped in Athens. It would be particularly effective if it could be connected to some philanthropic activity.


Members of The Collective with Beverly Jackson, Ali D’Andrea, and Julie Triolo

Spotify -  Abby Jensen

Music streaming is incredibly popular among our generation, and, right now, Spotify is arguably the top streaming platform. In fact, many of our focus group participants said that paying for Spotify Premium is the only online subscription that they see value in. Today, on our last day at SXSWi, I had the chance to sit down with members of the Spotify team and learn more about the future of music streaming.

Why It’s Great: Spotify has all the music you could ever imagine in one place. It is fast, convenient and free. These are all things Millennials seek out when adopting new technology.

The Next Steps: Spotify is working on a more advanced targeting system, and once the ad content on Spotify is more customized than just geo-location and gender, these ads will seem less intrusive. After all, Millennials dont hate advertising; we hate bad advertising.

The Role of Pandora: Pandora is a Spotify competitor that is not going anywhere. Unless I want to listen to one or two specific songs or an entire album, Spotify is not where I go for streaming. On the other side of the argument, many Millennials love using Spotify to discover and share new music. It truly depends on our level of passion for the art.


Foursquare - Victoria Skinner

Met up for a coffee break today with Jameson, Leah and Peter from Foursquare who gave us some great insights and shared their ideas for the future of the platform. After our chat, I think Foursquare has the most potential in the support they can provide to remarketing efforts.

Here’s what I mean:

Say you have a user who searches for plane tickets in January. He goes on his trip, returns, and still receives ads for plane tickets for the same destination during the next few months. How annoying is that? Very. Especially for Millennials. The next step in consumer targeting is the ability for advertisers to know that you’ve already been on that trip by creating remarking ads using location data.

As Leah put it during our meeting, “Location is the new cookie.” SO true. The next step in creating quality retargeting ads is inputting this bit of information. Im less annoyed by these ads just talking about the change.  

Foursquare - Yates Webb

Meeting with three representatives from FourSquare today changed my entire perception of the utility of location data. FourSquare is growing fast and works with advertisers to provide data, improving user ad experiences and increasing the relevance and context of marketing efforts.

Takeaways: Location data is powerful in helping advertisers to better tailor experiences to customers, but many Millennials still think of apps like FourSquare as providing them with no direct benefit. I honestly had no idea of the value of the location data they can provide to marketers, but realize now that the potential benefits are endless as long as my privacy remains in tact. Something else that struck me was that this type of data can be far more powerful and specific than web history data tracked through cookies.


Storytelling on Twitter – Brandon Murphy

In the session “TV Storytelling Adapted for Twitter” with Frank Graver, Head of TV at Twitter, and Lincoln Lopez, VP of Social Media Strategy for TNT/TBS at Turner Broadcasting, I was given an inside look at a truly innovative marketing technique.  

· Lopez explained that if you are not creating content that people want to share, then you are using social media incorrectly.  Social media is all about interacting with those around you so if no one wants to interact with your content, what’s the point?

· The two talked about using Twitter to promote the pilot of a new show.  Tweets were sent out periodically throughout the day from a branded account giving more and more lines to the script.  Everything was tweeted except the ending of the show in order to still get people to tune in. I thought this was a very interesting tactic to use since it essentially gives away the entire show except a few lines at the end.   

· While this campaign was effective (86% of tweets received some sort of interaction), I personally would not partake in this kind of marketing.  For me, watching a TV show is not only about the lines used, but also about the visuals.  Having one without the other would not be enjoyable for me. I would also feel that the premiere would be ruined for me and give me no incentive to watch.

Takeaway: While new ways of doing things and creative innovation are key in this industry, I personally believe this would not be an effective way to market to most Millennials since many of us try to avoid spoilers


The women of the PHD Grady Creative Collective attended a panel called “Unplugged” that was sponsored by OMD and the Austin chapter of the Women in Media Mentoring Initiative (WIMMI) at the Blanton Museum of Art. The host and panelists, an amazing group of accomplished women, included:

  • Monica Karo, CEO of OMD
  • Janinie Gibson, Editor-in Chief Guardian U.S.
  • Erin Clift, VP, Global Marketing & Partnerships at Spotify
  • Jesse Draper, CEO of Valley Girl, Inc.
  • Carmen Graf, SVP, Executive Director, GSD&M
  • Erika Nardini, CMO, AOL
  • Elisa Camahort Page, Co-Founder and COO, BlogHer
  • Nancy Spears, CEO, genConnect

The women spoke of the challenges of being leaders of their companies and still finding time to unplug from technology to make time for themselves and their families. 

While we enjoyed having the opportunity to hear from these women, we found that it was a little difficult to relate to their message at this point in our lives.  Although we are busy with school and activities, for the most part, we don’t yet have the demands of career and families pulling us in different directions.  We are Millennials who still find being plugged in is a good thing and we know exactly where our cell phone will spend the night—right next to us! 

What’s interesting to consider however is the potential for change in our ways of working. The generational differences between our group and those on the panel means different behaviors regarding usage of technologies and devices; we are so plugged in we can’t imagine unplugging. 


OMD CEO Monica Karo introducing the panel.

I got to use Google Glass as I walked around the streets of Austin and the Convention Center today. I will say, when we first started playing with this wearable at lunch on Saturday, we were struggling to figure it out. The technology is not very intuitive, and I was having a tough time fitting it to my face.

Today, however, I had a much better experience. As I walked around the trade show in the SXSWi convention center, I was pretty conscious of the fact that I was wearing the Glass. People either shot me looks of disapproval or they seemed impressed that I was experimenting with the technology. Surprisingly, not many people at SXSWi were using Glass; thought I would for sure have seen more experimentation with the device here. 

I took a bunch of pictures and videos, and was impressed by the functions that allowed me to share media directly after capturing it.

After experimenting with the Glass a bit, I found that wearables that fit on our faces are pretty distracting. It’s hard to ignore the fact that you are wearing a really expensive piece of equipment on your face, and you can almost feel the collective stares from crowds as you walk by.

However, I do see a lot of utility in these types of devices for specific user scenarios. Ways I would use the technology would be recording surgeries to instruct medical students, or to provide augmented reality screening tools to transportation security officers in the airport.

The Glass and other face/camera wearables can serve an endless array of functions. Those functions just don’t yet seem to fall in line with the day-to-day life of the average tech Millennial consumer like me.

- Yates Webb

The Glass perspective on the SX Trade Show Floor

The zombie trend takes over #SXSW

We love cool, themed races. This is a characteristic of Millennials—as a generation we’re very health conscious. Themed races, especially zombie themed, are so cool. Especially since, most of us look like zombies by the end of our 5Ks

We all got a chance to see #GrumpyCat at the Mashable House #HolyShrimp

Storytelling - Channing Jones

One of the biggest highlights of the SXSW session experiences was the “Secrets of Addictive Storytelling” panel. Guest speakers included Troy Young, President at Hearst Magazines Digital Media, Terry Wood, President of One Three Media, Jonathan Perelman, BuzzFeed GM of Video and VP of Agency Strategy, Joanna Coles, Editor in Chief of Cosmopolitan, and Bob DeBitetto, President of A&E Television Networks. They all spoke about what makes great content, and below are a few snapshots from the panel that completely resonated with me:

  • DeBitetto shared an anecdote about a talented individual that A&E Networks hired. A young man had personally created a promo spot for the new television series, Bates Motel, that received a huge response online. Instead of filing a cease-and-desist, A&E actually hired him to continuing making promo spots for the show. The fact that this network capitalized on an opportunity to embrace one of its biggest brand ambassadors – a true fan of the show – and placed him in an active role in the creating the brand’s messaging is incredible. 

Takeaway: Millennials definitely want to be more involved in the way a brand communicates itself and interacts with consumers.

  • As someone who recently joined the public Twittersphere, it has been fascinating to see the number of likes, retweets, and followers I have received from both big-name brands and everyday consumers – and especially from some of the top opinion leaders in the media industry. Having the opportunity to connect with these people in real-time is amazing. When people like Joanna Coles favorites one of my tweets (she did!), I feel that in some small way I’ve earned my seat at the cool kids’ table online. This real-time interaction between people from all spheres of life is one of my favorite aspects of Twitter.

Takeaway: Millennials are the fanboys and fangirls of some of their favorite people and brands on Twitter. Some of us love to engage in these two-way, real-time conversations – especially when we initiate the conversation. 

  • Perelman stated that BuzzFeed understands that “people want to validate their assumptions of themselves online,” and BuzzFeed chooses to do so through quizzes – a brilliant move for targeting Millennials. A massive amount of our peers retake quizzes until they determine that they are actually a Carrie and not a Miranda. Because everyone wants to be Carrie, right? Once we find an answer that we feel reflects the person we want to be or become, we’ll continue to share these results on social media. 

Takeaway: Millennials love to interact with content that has a personalized and social tie-in, like quizzes. We have no shame and will retake these quizzes until we find the result we want to share with our community of friends.


Twitter Talk - Victoria Skinner

The Austin Twitter office was SO awesome. But really. Their vending machine was the highlight of my SXSWi experience so far. Yeah, that’s saying a lot—but for a hashtaged tweet I got a personalized flask that is one of the coolest pieces of swag I’ve received so far. And hey, I got two new Twitter followers—two Twitter employees. How legit is that? These guys were incredibly easy to talk to and cool.

Some highlights:

  • 60% of Millennials tweet once a day. That was A LOT more than we had expected. Most of the Millennials we interviewed said they were beginning to use their Twitter as more of a news source rather than posting original content.
  • When I asked about marketing research Twitter used to develop new products, they said most of this was via word of mouth. They talk one-on-one with their advertisers and get feedback from “ears on the ground.” I was a little surprised by this—it almost seems archaic. I love analytics, so I may be biased, but they seem like they should have more advanced capabilities for such a large, forward-thinking company. I’d like to hear about some hard Twitter data some time in the near future! Expecting great things after seeing what they’re capable of. 

Mashable House Entertainment - Abby Jensen

Mashable is known for sharing clever and insightful content, and the Mashable House at SXSWi was no exception. As a Millennial, I love things that are funny, amusing and free, and the Mashable House delivered.

Funny: By bringing internet sensation Grumpy Cat to the House, Mashable appealed to more than just the Millennial generation. The opportunity to pose for a picture with this fierce cat was the most popular attraction in the Mashable House. #HolyShrimp

Amusing: As someone who thinks Miley Cyrus is doing a great job of promoting her new and, maybe improved personal brand, getting a chance to “come in” like a (Mashable) wrecking ball was the highlight of day 3 at SXSW.  

Free: MasterCard hit the nail on the head with their #PricelessSurprises Vending Machine in the Mashable House. This machine was prompted by tweets and MasterCold holders had the opportunity win cool prizes. I was a lucky winner and got a Jawbone Up. I am a fitness enthusiast and can’t wait to play around with my new piece of wearable technology. Because of this one particular marketing promotion, I can guarantee that I will forever be a loyal MasterCard holder.


 #SXSWesteros - Brandon Murphy

Game of Thrones has rapidly become one of HBO’s highest rated television shows. I was very fortunate to have my favorite TV show executing its famous exhibit while here at SXSWi and was excited to be able to attend and interact with the exhibit.

  • As a Millennial, I enjoy experiences that are catered to me personally. While I entered into the exhibit as part of a group, I was able to explore the exhibit on my own time and create my own personal experience.  The event staff was very friendly and volunteered to take pictures as each exhibit guest took their seat on the coveted Iron Throne.  It created a personal, documented experience for each participant.  
  • I appreciated being able to see all of the costumes used by the characters in real life. Although none of the actors were there when I was, the actual props used in the show made me feel personally connected to the show on another level that cannot be achieved by watching the show live.  

Perhaps the most underwhelming and disappointing experience I’ve had at SXSWi was with Oreo.  Oreo heavily advertised the ability to “eat the tweet” by printing 3D edible Oreos based on Twitter trends.  After waiting in line for over 30 minutes, we were told that the machines were down due to the “new technology” being non-functional.  I thought it was very misleading to advertise this innovative technology while it crashed “several times” throughout the day.  While I understand there was a large amount of people interacting with the exhibit, Oreo should have considered the volume of interactivity before debuting this technology.  Despite the free milk shot, a bad taste was left in my mouth about the brand.  It was set-up to be so great, I had higher expectations.


Game of Thrones Exhibit #sxsw #hbo

checking out twitters digs at #sxsw