SXSW – A Goldmine for Out-of-Home Advertisers (If You Know How to Dig)

by Aaron Tao, 3/14/18

"[SXSW] like Disneyland meets Hogwarts meets some kind of World Fair. I go because it is the best place to see the future, today." —Elliot Tomaeno, founder and CEO of Astrsk PR

For an Austinite, there are two tell-tale signs of springtime. First, we see the blooming bluebonnets. Texas’s iconic state flower has already transformed our hills, highways, parks, and campuses into a vibrant blue hue

As we drink in this natural beauty, our busy lives are to become busier as South by Southwest (SXSW) arrives in town.

SXSW is Austin’s biggest event of the year, drawing tens of thousands of people across the United States and from all over the world. Much more than a music and film festival, SXSW is the perfect launchpad for new entrepreneurs to introduce themselves to the world and build their brand. In this bubbling cauldron of innovation and energy, the right meeting of the minds and cross-pollination of ideas may very well lead to the “next big thing.”

Understandably, companies unleash their marketing and advertising campaigns in full-force for the “event of the year.” According to the Austin Business Journal, SXSW 2017 generated approximately $349 million (up 7 percent from 2016) for the local Austin economy, the economic equivalent of hosting the Super Bowl. Furthermore, consulting firm Greyhill Advisors’ comprehensive economic analysis reveal that:

The value of SXSW print, broadcast and online publications coverage in 2017 totaled $572.3 million. The considerable increase in SXSW’s media valuation compared to previous years reflects a more accurate snapshot of media publications and the resulting audience exposure to SXSW coverage.

The growing economic impact and business potential of large-scale events such as SXSW are not lost on marketers. According to an eye-opening report from event management company Bizzabo, 31% of mid-level and senior level marketers believe that “events are the single-most effective marketing channel over digital advertising, email marketing and content marketing.” Other trends in this report reveal that:

  • The majority (80%) of marketers believe live events are critical to their company’s success. (Bizzabo, 2017)
  • An overwhelming majority of C-Suite executives (87%) believe in the power of live events and plan on investing in them more in the future. (Bizzabo, 2017)
  • The majority of overperforming businesses (91%) place a greater emphasis on live events as a marketing channel than underperforming businesses or businesses that are performing as expected. They also plan on growing their event marketing budgets by more than the rest ($4,500 more). (Bizzabo, 2017)
  • 75% of marketers believe that in the upcoming years, live events will become increasingly important to their organization’s success. (Bizzabo, 2017)

All this being said, based on past analysis and future forecasts, SXSW is a literal goldmine for out-of-home advertisers. That is, if they know where and how to dig and what tools to use. Despite the immense marketing opportunities available at SXSW and elsewhere, all of that potential can be lost if a business does not know how to measure the ROI from their marketing and event spending.

While networking and the experience itself certainly matter from events such SXSW, what if the prospects and contacts you make at the event never visit your store, call your number, or follow through? With so many people going to SXSW, it is very easy to get lost in the crowd. Furthermore, there are inherent limitations in acquiring data from out-of-home (OOH) advertisements (the problem that Abraxas Technology was founded to fix) such as subway ads and traditional billboards compared to online advertising such as Google AdWords which can measure audience demographics, click-through rates, and spending ROI.

Here at Abraxas Technology, as Austinites who revel in creativity and cutting-edge technology, we believe it is possible to bring together the world of OOH advertising with the insights of big data and the empowerment of the digital age. Most importantly for OOH owners, the increasing penetration of digital media with the onset of augmented reality will force traditional OOH owners to collect and provide relevant data to marketers and advertisers.


Aaron Tao

Reach out to us today if you want to begin providing relevant data to marketers and advertisers. Email