Go Local or Go Home: Keeping an Eye Out for Localization at SXSW

SXSW InteractiveMore than 30,000+ digital and social brethren – including more than 30 Ketchum and Zocalo Group colleagues – will descend on Austin for SXSW Interactive 2014.

As I look at the ever-expanding collection of speakers, panels, events and parties, I don’t get the sense there will be any breakout “2014 SXSW was the year of XXX” revelations.

Of course, there will be countless sessions on Big Data (and how to make it small again), Wearables, Twitter E-commerce, Mobile Payments, Privacy and everything else in between. There will continue to be all sorts of evolutionary and incremental updates to our favorite platforms and apps, but I’m not expecting to walk away saying, “Wow.”

However, what I’m getting increasingly excited to see and hear more about – and think it will be the star of the show next year – is localization.

Just yesterday, my friend Ed posted an update: “I stopped using Foursquare about a year ago … But last week in Barcelona, Foursquare was a very useful resource at locating great restaurants and activities in proximity. I’ve also used TripAdvisor for that purpose, but found Foursquare much easier. It’s changed a lot in a year, and this is a very different reason for using it than bragging about my current location.”

Exactly, Ed.

Up and coming companies like MaxPoint  (hyperlocal display advertising), Yodle  (a local small business marketing platform), Verve Mobile (using location data to target specific advertising), and ThinkNear are coming on fast and strong.

And don’t forget the soon to re-discovered Yelp and Groupon.

Content is still king, but getting content to the people right when they want and need it is taking on a whole new level of importance and value.

Clearly, social, local and mobile are all converging, but now it’s becoming for real. Keep an eye out at SXSW for what’s little this year. It will likely be next year’s breakout.

Paul is the President and CEO of the Zócalo Group, Ketchum’s Word of Mouth and Brand Evangelism division.