Cutting through the chaff of SXSW’s “official” and “unofficial” content sessions, the never-ending parties, managing crowds and simply trying to get around, exercise, or, goodness forbid have a little fun while exploring Austin is challenging.
Below is my updated annual list to help you do just that. Enjoy, and remember- it’s Austin. Don’t forget to pack an empty water bottle, dancing boots and a healthy sense of humor. I promise you, most of the “We Know It’s Great but Don’t Move Here” shirts are being worn by tourists.
Last but not least, if you are interested in attending the CMO Club, the Interactive Advertising Bureau, Adometry and Media6Degrees and Pecha Kucha events below, make sure to shoot me an email and I’ll get you more details.
Simply Getting Around
If you’re not within a mile of the convention center during your visit, you’ll need a vehicle. A rental car will work if you can get one, but the area near the convention center will be jam packed with traffic, and many roads will be blocked off. There aren’t a lot of great parking lots either, so if your hotel offers a shuttle, bike taxi or other transport, take advantage.
If you are lucky enough to be considered for Tagged’s annual “Limo” program, you can get a wristband and go in style. I also heard from an official source that UK based company eConsultancy will have a double-decker bus in service to court its crowd from place to place. Finally, as Matt Cohen (CEO of OneSpot) reminded me, there are conveniently located parking spots for Austin’s Zip Car and Car2Go programs. If you sign up in advance, they may be the most efficient way to get around. Visitors who are within a mile of the C-Center can hoof it and save the hassle, realizing boots or walking shoes versus heels will really come in handy.
CONTENT, NETWORKING EVENTS & PARTIES
This year’s Interactive is five days, beginning on March 8th (lightly attended) and wrapping up on the 12th. While everything may sound exciting upon first read, my suggestion is to mix it up by weaving in official sessions, unofficials, and a little R&R with your peers and new friends.
Below are the content sessions and digital industry parties that are currently generating the most buzz. I’ve asterisked the ones in red that the agency or I have an affiliation with and may be be able to help you get access to. Feel free to email me if you find these events appealing and I’ll do my best to help out.
Friday, March 8th
3:30-4:30PM Games: Anyone. Anywhere. Anytime.
Palmer Events Center, Room 4-5
Raise your hand if you agree with either of these statements:
You may be surprised at how many people would have their hand raised…especially brand marketers and agencies who make decisions about promoting /advertising on games as part of their digital marketing mix. The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) Games Committee is here to dispel the myths about gamers based on current research that shows how games truly are played by anyone, anywhere, anytime.
Join us and meet today’s game players.
Presenters: Bill Hopkins, VP/GM-Nielsen GamesThe Nielsen Company, David Berkowitz, VP, Emerging Media, 360i, Susan Borst, Director, Industry Initiatives for Social Media, Content Marketing, Games & B2B, IAB
5:00 – 9:00 PM UNofficial Mobile Meetup
Sponsored by RadioShack, SubtleData, Health 2.0 and Wireless Industry Partnership
Gingerman, 301 Lavaca St.
Are you a mobile nut, mobile blogger,mobile developer, mobile entrepreneur? Come commensurate with your fellow mobile nuts over a few beers (or ciders or whatever).
We’ll be getting together at 5:00pm on March 8, the opening day of SXSW Interactive. We’ll be on the back patio.
We don’t care if you carry an iPhone, Nokia, BlackBerry, Windows Phone or Android – come hang out and let’s talk mobile and get to know each other.
We’ll gather at the Ginger Man Pub – a short 5 minute walk from the Convention Center. They have like 50+ taps of some amazing beers and a large selection of cider as well.
8:00PM – 9:00PM
Descendants of Erdrick with a special announcement from Richard Garriott
Palmer Events Center, Exhibit Hall 1, 900 Barton Springs Rd.
Richard Garriott founded gaming company, Origin, and also went to space! This is totally weird and a great way to kick-off SXSW
SXSW GEEK Stage – Descendants of Erdrick is a rock band dedicated to re-imagining the soundtracks of classic video games, specializing in covers of the “epic” role-playing/adventure genre of games. The band’s repertoire covers games ranging from The Legend of Zelda and Mega Man, to Dragon Warrior and Final Fantasy. Each instrumental “medley” of songs is aimed at engaging the listener and telling a story, often using sound effects and visuals alongside the music to establish a mood.
Saturday, March 9th
9:30AM-10:30AM, Sources in the Social Media Age
Presented by Edmund Lee (Bloomberg News), Greg Galant (Shorty Awards & Muck Rack), Joe Ciarallo (Salesforce.com) and Peter Kafka (All Things Digital)
Austin Convention Center, Room 12AB, 500 E Cesar Chavez St.
As social media destroys previous conceptions (or perceptions?) of reporters, their sources and the “audience,” journalism is being re-defined by the minute. It’s also letting people on all sides of the equation get away with things they couldn’t have before. For example, sources can demand to review the quotes from their interview with the reporter, and the reporter is more willing to do so than ever, knowing that the source could just as easily take to Facebook or Twitter with the information. Sponsored by the Knight Foundation.
11:00AM – 2:00PM Is Intuitive Marketing Dead? Featuring Nate Silver*
Invite Only – Sponsored by Adometry, Media6Degrees, Neustar and ThinkVine
Bungalow, Brew Spirits and Good Vibes, 92 Rainey St.
11:00am-2:00pm: Brunch Served – Fine Interior Mexican Cuisine, Bloody Mary Tastings with Locally Distilled Austin Spirits
12:00pm-1:00pm: Open Dialogue with Nate Silver, “Is Intuitive Marketing Dead?” Moderated by Steve Basile
1:00pm-1:30pm: Book Signing, “The Signal and the Noise”
1:30pm-2:00pm: MingleOpen dialogue with Nate Silver
Nate will provide a few opening remarks and then we will have a question and answer period moderated by Steve Basile. Austin is a cultural and foodie mecca
We will be featuring classic regional Mexican cuisine – not your usual Tex-Mex! Austin Vodkas? You bet. Sample Tito’s, Savy, and Deep Eddy Sweet Tea Vodkas. “The Signal and the Noise” book signing
Nate Silver’s book is available for the first 100 guests and he will sign copies.
11:00AM-12:00PM Brand Fans, the New Brand Marketers
Presented by Jen Saenz (FritoLay), Kevin Knight (Facebook) and Shiv Singh (PepsiCo)
Omni Downtown, Capital Ballroom, 700 San Jacinto St.
Before Time’s Person of the Year was “You” – a corporate powerhouse was already putting “You” in control. Since 2006, PepsiCo has been at the forefront of crowdsourcing – letting fans produce the Doritos brand’s Super Bowl ads and create the next flavor of Mountain Dew, or, more recently, empowering consumers to help the Pepsi brand introduce the Super Bowl Halftime Show and inspiring fans to create the next Lay’s potato chips flavors. PepsiCo has proved that this DIY approach resonates with fans – and no one defines your brands like your fans. This panel, featuring Frito-Lay senior director of brand marketing Jen Saenz, PepsiCo Beverages global head of digital Shiv Singh and Facebook creative strategist Kevin Knight, is moderated by Mashable business editor Todd Wasserman and provides an opportunity to learn how to tap and inspire the “creative genius” among your DIY-inclined fans, how to control the risk of “letting go” and take fan engagement to the next level. Sponsored by PepsiCo.
2:00PM-3:00PM, 2013 SXSW Newbies Meet Up (Requires Badge)
Driskill Hotel, Driskill Ballroom, 604 Brazos St.
If you are new to SXSW, aren’t in town with vets, and/or simply want to get a lay of the land and meet new people, this is the event to attend.
3:30PM-4:30PM Al Gore on The Future
Austin Convention Center, Exhibit Hall 5, 500 E. Cesar Chavez St.
From the former vice president and #1 New York Times bestselling author comes An Inconvenient Truth for everything—a frank and clear-eyed assessment of the emerging forces that are reshaping our world and will continue to do so in the decades to come.
5:30PM-11:00PM CMO Club Dinner, Reception and Surprise Musical Performance* CMOs and select members of the media only
The Rattle Inn*, 610 Nueces St, Austin
CMOs from around the country are in Austin for SXSW. If you are a member of the press or the CMO for a brand that would like to attend this event, please contact me by email.
Sunday, March 10th
9:00AM-1:00PM, Interactive Advertising Brunch*
Sponsored by SmartBrief & TBD
Featuring Live Music by Darden Smith
Parkside Rooftop, 301 E. 6th St.
This event is open to IAB members and guests. It’s a great way to catch up with industry peers and media partners. Brunch and mimosas on the house! If you are a member of the press or the CMO for a brand that would like to attend this event, please contact me by email.
11:00AM-12:00PM, Airbnb’s Brian Chesky Talks with Fortune’s Jessi Hempel
Hilton Austin Downtown, Salon ABC, 500 E 4th St.
A spirited conversation with Airbnb’s cofounder and CEO Brian Chesky in which we delve into the process of designing and building a platform for sharing homes, explore the company’s new push into the travel guide area with its Lonely Planet competitor, and talk about the challenges of scaling a truly disruptive business model.
11:00AM-12:00PM, Consumer Data: Can I Get Satisfaction?
Presented by Rick Orr
Four Seasons, Four Seasons Ballroom, 98 San Jacinto Blvd.
Since the dawn of spam and server hacks, there has been trepidation on the part of the consumer in sharing their personal data with the companies they interact with, for good reason. But, there is a way for consumers to leverage their data to his or her advantage. Many companies today are mining the data they capture about their customers, such as spending habits and purchase preferences – and chances are, whether they realize it or not, they are benefiting from it. Recent articles site that Fiat uses their customer data to find out how to target new customers and provide better service to the ones it already has. Wal-Mart uses purchasing habit data to deliver the right item to the right customer. American Express suggests products to its customers based on analysis of the customer’s monthly expenditures, and often provides deals on those items. This session will discuss how the consumer should re-evaluate the companies they interact with and how their data can benefit them.
1:30PM-2:30PM Blast PR’s Client and Partner Happy Hour*
Parkside Downstairs 301 E. 6th St.
This happy hour event will bring together members of the Digital Oldtimers, Women in Media Mentoring, the Interactive Advertising Bureau and CMO Club on the agency.
5:00PM-6:00PM Affinity, Intent & The War for Marketing Dollars
Presented by Forrester Research analyst Nate Elliott
The Four Seasons, San Jacinto Ballroom, 98 San Jacinto Blvd.
Every day people conduct billions of searches on Google, and in the process they create what John Battelle famously called a ‘database of intentions:’ A massive record of the world’s desires that helps the company generate tens of billions of dollars in advertising revenue. But Facebook, perhaps the only other company that has collected as much data as Google, has had nowhere near the same luck turning its data into dollars. Why? Because unlike Google’s ‘database of intentions,’ Facebook has unwittingly built a ‘database of affinity:’ A massive record of what people like rather than what they intend to do.
The database of affinity is potentially as valuable as the database of intentions — but neither Facebook nor marketers have managed to unlock or measure that value. The question is: Who can find the hidden value in this database of affinity, and how will this change marketing?
Monday, March 11th
11:00AM-12:00PM, The Mashable Variety Show
Presented by Pete Cashmore, CEO and Founder, Mashable
Long Center, Dell Hall, 701 W. Riverside Dr.
The Internet has grown exponentially throughout the years. It has gone from a place that no one understood to a world that no one can take their eyes off of. The Internet has evolved from a place to get your news, pay your bills, go shopping or catch up with old friends to the greatest community that anyone has ever been a part of.
Pete Cashmore, Founder and CEO of Mashable, will explore this revolution and what it means. He will explore how the world has grown and changed due to the constant re-invention of the Internet, covering how marketing strategies have evolved, how news delivery has moved from your doorstep to your newsfeed, and how the Internet itself has allowed the world to reconnect through images, stories and sometimes, cats! Have your cameras ready for surprises and special guests!
3:30PM-4:30PM A Conversation with Steve Case
Steve Case (Revolution) and Lance Ulanoff (Mashable)
Austin Convention Center, Exhibit Hall 5, 500 E Cesar Chavez St.
To keep America’s economic and innovation engine running, we must tap into the “secret sauce” that made the United States what it is today… our entrepreneurs. Reflecting on his experience building AOL into an online powerhouse, to (today) investing in disruptive, consumer-facing companies like Zipcar, LivingSocial and Exclusive Resorts among others, Steve Case will share his thoughts on what actions we must take to make sure America remains the world’s most entrepreneurial nation.
In a conversation with Mashable editor Lance Ulanoff, Steve will explore the possibilities for a “Rise of the Rest” in US entrepreneurship, where new hotbeds of entrepreneurial activity will grow outside of Silicon Valley in cities like Washington D.C., Denver, Chicago, Atlanta, Raleigh, Cleveland, Detroit and many others.
Steve will also share his thoughts on disruption – why it’s essential to innovation, and what industries are ripe to be disrupted by new tools and technologies.
7:00PM – 10:30PM, Pecha Kucha Austin #16*
Pentagram Design, 1508 W. 5th St.
Open to the public, this event will feature official Pecha Kucha 20 image x 20 second per image “chit-chat” presentations by many of Austin’s finest. #16 will be the first Pecha Kucha Austin held outdoors. Presenters include artist Jan Heaton, music producer Noel Waggener, digital data visionary Richard Bagdonas, creative director Ron Pippin, photographer Mat Sturtevant and musicians Patches King, Graham Reynolds, Lance Keltner, Charlie Faye and Jon Dee Graham. For more information, email me or join the “Pecha Kucha Austin” group on Facebook and RSVP for the event.
Tuesday, March 12
11:00AM-12:00PM, Jane Pratt: Secrets of a Publishing Renegade
Austin Convention Center, Exhibit Hall 5, 500 E Cesar Chavez St.
Jane Pratt, founder of Jane and Sassy magazines, reveals what went on behind the scenes as she burnt bridges, said things she shouldn’t say out loud, and built a platform for women to express themselves honestly. Now, with xoJane.com, her first online publication, Jane is once again revolutionizing the way media talks to women.
At SXSW Interactive, Jane will reveal (and later deny) truths about why the current print model doesn’t work, the myths traditional media has been feeding you, and the outrageous anecdotes from 25 years in media she only shares with her closest friends.
Standing at the helm of a group of digital properties, Jane proves you can make a success out of doing whatever you want as long as you stay committed to your vision … and are willing to go up against everyone from Si Newhouse to the Moral Majority.
3:30PM -4:30PM Change the Ratio: Conversations with Rachel Sklar
Austin Convention Center, Ballroom D, 500 E Cesar Chavez St.
Writer and disrupter Rachel Sklar talks to assorted high-profile tech leaders about the interplay between diversity, meritocracy, privilege and innovation, and how the tech industry is transforming as it goes mainstream (and why that’s a good thing). Lots of special guests and Vine-able moments! (Is that a word yet? It is now.)
EATS & DRINKS
Austin is well known for its Tex-Mex and Bar-B-Q. But, recently, we’ve experienced a culinary explosion. Here’s a list to favorites to choose from…
Old-School – Polvos – Great Mexican with a true Austin vibe that can be best realized with a Mexican “Martini” or margarita. (South Austin)
New School – La Condesa – Fancy Mexican in the heart of the hip ‘Second Street’ district, which is also referred to as “Little Dallas”. Great open-air bar with a corresponding upstairs bar that is easy to book for events.
New School – Lamberts – The best late-night bar-b-q with great bands upstairs (factoid – It’s in the old historic venue once occupied by the much beloved Liberty Lunch music venue)
DOWNTOWN BY TYPE
(FYI – For Brunch – Trio, Lamberts and Moonshine are typically great options)
EASTSIDE COCKTAILS (the late night scene side of town)
SOUTH CONGRESS/SOUTH FIRST EATS & DRINKS
THE BEST HOTELS
Saxon Pub – Great shows.
Austin is a wonderland for fitness enthusiasts, especially in March when the weather is usually at its best.
Outdoors + Yoga
Hiking, Mountain Biking, Climbing
Daily kayaking or paddle boating
…all located next to one another
ARTS & CULTURE