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Mar 18th 2013

AOL's Digital Prophet, David Shing, Interviews Industry's Leaders at SXSW for "Shingerviews"

David Shing, AOL's digital prophet and brand evangelist, flew out to Austin, TX, for SXSW 2013 to see the latest in film, music and tech. While intrigued by what was happening on the main stages, Shing was also interested in digging into the latest trends in digital. He took to the streets, interviewing leaders from start-ups to iconic American brands. He shares his conversations on the web series, "Shingerviews" on AOL On.

The series features the creative minds and leaders behind Soundcloud, Wired Magazine, Cadillac, Readmill, Obama Campaign, Mondel─ôz International and more. Watch the playlist below or visit AOL On for more insightful "Shingerviews."

Mar 13th 2013

Who won SXSW Interactive in 2013? (Spoiler alert: No one... and that's a good thing)

So, let's review.

Fast Company declared Google Glass the "winner" of SXSW Interactive 2013. Sort of. AllThingsD declared that parties- not products or panels- stole the show, adding, they were "where there real work is done". The Wall Street Journal also suggested that the focus is on re-embracing the physical.

And, of course, there was Grumpy Cat.

So, who won overall? In my opinion, none of them.

The reality is that SXSW, this year, as every year, is really what visitors make out of it. Veterans of SXSW (this year was my third), learn quickly, and painfully that there is no possible way to consume and interact with everything available - or even a majority of it. This is partly because there are so many options and partly because the panel / discussion / dinner / party you really wanted to go to was full 30 minutes before starting.

So rather than trying to pick a winner, I'll focus on a series of themes that stood out during my days in Texas:


(The MakerBot: Replicator 2 and products made with Autodesk iPad app. / Photo: MakerBot)

(Photo: Matthew Knell)

  • Brands as incubators - the Nike+ FuelBand has inspired a whole new way of thinking for marketers - offering products and solutions that extend your brand through making your consumer's lives easier. In this regard, Target's retail accelerator, in partnership with Fast Company's Co. Labs, is challenging developers to build innovative mobile apps to improve the retail experience for a $75,000 prize. Target will offer API access to their retail data, and will work with finalists to make sure their solutions fit the target brand. These sorts of partnerships will become more common as brands, looking to be more nimble step outside their own walls for fresh inspiration, and developers look for more interesting data sets to play with and problems to solve.

(The Samsung TecTile Wall /Photo: Matthew Knell)

  • Touchless tech... the next big thing? - Using Near Field Communication (NFC), Samsung allowed you to pay for a pedicab ride, or get a free cupcake or ice cream just by waving your NFC-enabled phone at tags (Samsung calls them TecTiles) all over the city of Austin. Samsung had no shame in flaunting one of its biggest product advantages over Apple devices, and put it to good use in trying to meet Maslow's hierarchy of needs for conference goers.
(#sxswRTM Panel: L to R: Bonin Bough, Mondelez International; Gary Vaynerchuk, VaynerMedia; Steve Doan, Oreo; David Berkowitz, 360i; Albert Chou, Expion; David Teicher, Associate Editor, Ad Age / Photo: @stevehall)

  • Real-time marketing is challenging - The challenge to replicate the Oreo Super Bowl moment has driven marketers to rethink how they create social content. A spirited exchange on a Expion sponsored panel, called "The Power of Microcontent and Marketing in the Moment" featuring some of digital's biggest thinkers, showed the ink isn't even dry on the right ways to do "real-time marketing." Its success and failure depends on having the right brand and team to make it happen.
(Grumpy cat greets her fans! / Photo: Matthew Knell)

  • IRL matters - The appearance of Grumpy Cat at Mashable House illustrated what makes SXSW best, the limited opportunity for people to crossover from Internet to real-life, to meet each other, put faces to Twitter avatars, and above all, cheer for a cat who stole the Internet's heart.


Adding one more entry into the chorus of voices sharing their perspective on SXSW has allowed me to better absorb what matters to me through the noise. While many have declared the festival "over" or "a thing of the past", I still find the experience unique enough to where I'd recommend trying to go yourself if you've never been. The real winner in this sweepstakes is you.

Mar 4th 2013

What to Watch For at SXSW Interactive 2013

For me, this year seems to be a transitional year for SXSW® Interactive Festival. Last year, I visited and saw that SXSW 2012 had reached a sort of stasis (the four days of rain really didn't help). Still, through the noise, there were a couple of really good SXSW brand activations that turned out to be enhancive to the overall experience.

Rising costs in conference-related expenses, travel, availability of accommodations (I had to book my downtown hotel last October) and its tendency to overwhelm, have caused a lot of people to skip this year in favor of SXSW's new V2V conference, which makes its debut later this year.

But much like every conference, the value of benefit in SXSW is what you make of it and I look at this year as an opportunity for new folks to make an impact – both on stage and off. (First timers – check out a great guide here.)

I'll be heading to the festival for the third time this year, and I'm looking forward to seeing what stands out, both in terms of key speakers and products, but also in brand activations. I will be livetweeting panels from my personal Twitter account and also @aoladvertising for up-to-the-minute highlights, so stay tuned for the latest starting Friday morning. AOL and our brands will also be offering up some great events and speakers to make your SXSW experience that much more fulfilling, and I've included those here as well.

Here's a look at what I recommend (interactive badge required unless otherwise noted.)


Pick a date: March 8th | March 9th | March 10th | March 11th

Friday, March 8th


Saturday, March 9th


Sunday, March 10th

  • 10:00am at Icenhauer's (83 Rainey Street, map) ALTO Brunch - Start your day off right with a stop at our Bloody Mary bar where you can checkout AOL's latest email product, Alto. (No badge required; RSVP here)
  • 11:00am at Cheers Shot Bar (416 East 6th Street, map) – Visit the Starterhouse Hosted by Mapquest - Stop by for product demos, live music, networking and good grub and more, open until 7pm. (No badge required; RSVP here)
  • 11:00am at the Hilton Austin - Airbnb's Brian Chesky Talks with Fortune - Airbnb's CEO Brian Chesky talks with Fortune Magazine Jessi Hempel about the past, present and future of his brand
  • 11:00am at Intercontinental Stephen F. Austin – TechCrunch's John Biggs joins folks from Givit, WeVideo and Magisto, as they talk about The Social Video Race
  • 11:00am at the Hyatt Regency Austin- Is Women's Media Too Girly? Jezebel's founder Anna Holmes, Deborah Schoeneman, Margaret Johnson and Rebecca Fernandez talk how media (websites, TV, books) created by women is often accused of being too girly
  • 11:00am at Courtyard by Marriott – HuffPost's Lisa Belkin and PBS's Sara DeWitt discuss How to Keep Working Parents In & Innovating
  • 3:30pm at the Hyatt Regency Austin - Toddlers & Technology - Huffington Post Executive Lifestyle Editor Lori Leibovich anchors a panel discussing the link between today's toddlers and the technology they have access to
  • 3:30pm at the AT&T Conference Center - The Community Manager: Enter the C-Suite - HuffPost Live Community Manager Tim McDonald joins other leading community managers in this workshop designed to help you learn about Community Management today)
  • 5:00pm at the Omni Downtown – NASA UX designers share what UX design in space is like with @NASA: The User Experience of a Space Station
  • 5:00pm at Long Center - Style Goes Viral: The Future of Fashion explores the future of fashion and social media and features Anne Fulenwider, Editor in Chief of Marie Claire, Nina Garcia, Creative Director at Marie Claire and Randi Zuckerberg
  • 5:00PM at the Sheraton Austin – Join leaders from Simply Measured and Klout as they discuss Social Media Was Fun. Has Measurement Killed It?

Monday, March 11th


I'm excited to help bring SXSW to you – so stay tuned! And if you're heading down and would like to meet up, just send me a tweet at @matthewknell.

Aug 21st 2012

AOL Gets Ready for SXSW

Voting is already under way for presentations and panels to be featured on the agenda at SXSW next spring in Austin, and AOLers have a great showing of proposals. Through the SXSW PanelPicker, the community can browse all the ideas, leave comments, and vote for what they think are the best fit for SXSWedu, SXSW Interactive, SXSW Film and SXSW Music conference activities. The SXSW staff and advisory board also weigh on the content for the agenda to ensure lesser known voices have as much of a chance as being selected to speak at SXSW as individuals with large online followings.

Check out the AOLer-proposed sessions below:


See any you'd be interested? Click on a panel title to vote between now and August 31st. Then, look back at our take on the best brand activations from last year's SXSW here.

Mar 13th 2012

mqVibe Adds Contextual Search, Local Influence and Expertise

Late last year, theMapQuest Labs team launched mqVibe, which positioned the neighborhood as the foundational context for local discovery on a national level. By converting MapQuest's 15 years of data including where people are, what they are looking for, and where they are going, theycreated a baseline for a ranking system, which would get further refined in real-time as users voted and interacted with the system.

Given the scale of MapQuest, the team wasable to provide profiles of more than 50,000 neighborhoods, 27,000 cities, and 50,000 hotspots, essentially covering the entire U.S. Each neighborhood page showcases local restaurants, stores and businesses in ranked order by the most popular, which saves you from having to comb through thousands of not-helpful reviews to find the best.

Over the weekend, the teamadded a new batch of functionality to mqVibe including a new contextual search function and local influence and expertise-based algorithms making it more useful for giving you the local expert opinion of where to go and what to do.

As you may have seen, mqVibe is at SXSW showcasing all of these great new functionalities. If you are, too, download the mqVibe iPhone app to find the details on our flash mobs, street-corner giveaways and other cool stuff we're doing in Austin or follow #mqvibe on Twitter! Learn more about the latest mqVibe updates by reading the MapQuest Blog.

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