We’re half way through 2018 (can you believe it?) and we thought it would be a good time for a quick summary of our favourite marketing and social media conferences of 2018 so far. We’ve attended a number of conferences so far this year, keeping our finger on the pulse of everything going on and, of course, collecting all the free swag we can carry!
Mobile World Congress
(26 February – 1 March)
With 108,000 people having descended on Barcelona this year, MWC continues to be the world’s premier mobile conference. Seeing the launch of no less than 7 new smartphone models from major brands like Samsung, Sony and LG, the 2018 edition also touched on topics ranging from 5G to AI.
The 5G Summit, at the heart of this year’s MWC, featured 2 full days of presentations from global telecommunications thought leaders. As the next generation cellular network, 5G will bring increased speed, lower latency and greater capacity to mobile users.
Analysts believe 5G will allow brands to take mobile experiences to the next level, using technologies like augmented and virtual reality. Focussing on social media use, 5G will have huge benefits for user experience, with speed and improved battery life being just two of the many improvements.
5G is not here yet, but AT&T announced earlier this year that they will be rolling out 5G to 30 US cities by the end of 2018. All other major US carriers have committed to rolling it out in 2019.
Advertising Week Europe
Bringing together media, marketing, brand and technology communities from throughout Europe, Advertising Week 2018 featured over 175 workshops and seminars, focused on key trends and issues shaping today’s global industry.
Once again, all sorts of topics were covered throughout the week, but one in particular seemed to filter through everything: the GDPR. Given the timing of the conference, it was a very timely subject and one that was mentioned during almost every session. From the current state-of-play for European businesses, 60% of which felt they would not be ready for the May 25 deadline, to a 7-step plan to GDPR readiness, this was the year of the GDPR!
One particularly important point, made by Matthias Matthiesen of IAB Europe, was the change in the burden of responsibility. The onus is now no longer on regulators to ‘prove’ that a company has done something wrong, but rather on any company dealing with European personal data to prove they comply. We had the opportunity to sit down with Matthias to discuss this point and others in more detail, for our Paragone podcast – you can listen here.
Social Media Week NYC
Celebrating its 10th year, Social Media Week New York (or #SMWNYC for short), is the Big Apple’s premier media and marketing event. Bringing together professionals with a curiosity and passion for new ideas, innovations and emerging trends in social media, the conference features over 200 global speakers.
This year, a number of themes stood out for us, including the rise of Gen-Z and their unique ways of interacting and engaging with social media, to the future of messaging and what Western platforms can learn from their Chinese counterparts.
Data, Analytics and AI were other standout topics of discussion – and these went broader than just the GDPR. In one particular session, Eric Edge of Pinterest shared his vision for a future of marketing that is non-disruptive. For him, this is all about personalization, which is at its best when there is “a mutual exchange of value between a consumer and a brand”. For Edgen, the future of marketing and advertising is about speaking to the individual, not the masses – and technologies are starting to evolve to make this more and more possible.
It goes without saying that this year’s F8 was marked by recent news around data privacy, but apologising and righting the wrongs wasn’t the whole focus of the two-day conference – there were a number of other themes that we found interesting.
A number of sessions saw Facebook explain their vision for VR, and how they intend to make it social. A lot of the talk centered around creating a sense of ‘presence’ and enabling users to ‘defy distance’ by spending time with loved ones who might live thousands of miles away. A big step towards this goal was the launch of Oculus Go at this year’s F8, as well as recent improvement to Avatars in Facebook Spaces.
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