This is my second year attending SXSW and my first year attending as a speaker. So my headspace is a bit different when planning out which sessions I want to attend.

For most first-timers the inclination is to try to attend the big keynotes and featured sessions with the celebrities and big gurus in the tech world. The real-world realization once you are there is that you rarely get into those keynote/featured sessions, and if you do, you likely waited in line for three hours. Meanwhile, your colleagues went to three unknown sessions and walked away with some usable knowledge or case studies.

Not this year. I’m speaking at one of those “unknown” panels, and I’m supporting us lesser-known folks talking about interesting topics. If you’re inclined to join me at these sessions or wonder what you have to look forward to reading about on Wunderman Reports, I give you…

The Top 5 Lesser-Known SXSWi Sessions to be Excited About.

#1  Big Data Inverted: The Best Candy from Strangers? (Friday, March 7th – 12:30 – 1:30)

What I like about this panel is it’s answering a small part of the Big Data issues we all face. Why we get the same annoying friends updates, news content and adverts pushed to us constantly by these so-called “smart algorithms,” when in reality we want something different. Something better.  Presented by Chris Colborn, EVP, Global Chief Experience Officer for R/GA, and Dinkar Jain, Product Manager at Google and Maria Bezaitis, Principal Engineer at Intel, this should be an intriguing session not only about technology but about social issues that arise due to the “barricading” nature of these algorithms.

#2  The Secret Sauce of Real Time StoryTelling  (Friday, March 7th – 3:30 – 4:30)


Who remembers that amazing ad campaign for Melbourne Tourism where you could Tweet or message what you wanted a real person walking around Melbourne to do? “Try a weird fruit. OK. Dance by that fountain. No problem.” The guys at Tool are at SXSW to talk about that project—how it worked and why people crave that blend of social media and real-world storytelling.  If you’re a creative director or CMO looking for great ideas on the future of social engagement, go to this session.

#3  In Defense of Inventors: Yes, We Make Shit (Saturday, March 8th – 3:30 – 4:30)

If you work at an agency, this Core Conversation is for you. Ed Brojerdi and Matt Powell of KBS+P are finally sitting down to have a discussion about an issue of perception to the outward facing world (i.e. your client), namely that we can’t innovate. Most would say, “Invention is for the small tech start ups, not your big ad agencies.” I’m on Ed and Matt’s side that agencies are full of inventors. That we can go from concept to market and make shit really happen. Hurrah! Can’t wait.

#4  Instagramming the News (Sunday, March 9th – 5:00 – 6:00


You may have heard of this thing called Instagram: it’s changing the way we consume media and how magazines are using photography to influence the social sharing of news. With representatives from Instagram and TIME magazine on the panel, I’m excited to hear case studies and stories of how photography is changing for the news media, and what’s next for the media in regard to using social platforms. And yes, I’ll be sure to Instagram the Instagram session. Look for my hashtag #Metagram.

#5  Search Is Dead:  The Secret Sauce Behind Discovery  (Monday, March 10th – 12:30 – 1:30)

Whoa! Search is dead?! Sweet, now let’s talk about the next generation of recommendations. A world where experiences are personalized and curated. Then let’s talk about how much that impacts my purchase decisions and why those who adapt to this new future will come out on top. Let’s be honest, who do you trust more; a sushi restaurant recommendation from your coworker or a Google review from a tourist who doesn’t normally eat fish? That’s rhetorical, BTW. Good news is this panel is going to blow my mind and probably yours as well.

You can follow my write ups from these sessions on Wunderman Reports or in real time on Twitter (@drewlewis). See you in Austin!