Mar 3 2023
Clare McKinley

Our 7 Favorite SXSW Advertising and Brand Experience Events for 2023


One of the biggest global annual advertising experiences is right around the corner! South by Southwest (SXSW) is certain to be packed full of fascinating conversations and critical insights for digital marketers. If you’re planning your trip and feeling overwhelmed by the long list of events and offerings, this should help: We’ve picked out seven panels and presentations that you won’t want to miss. With topics spanning from data privacy, to activism and equity, to the turbulent world of social, you’ll level up your marketing prowess by attending just a few of these.

Without further ado, here are our favorites:

1. Will Data Privacy Kill Advertising?

It only makes sense to kick things off with a topic that's on the minds of advertisers everywhere—and one that it’s critical for marketers to get ahead of. Not only will 2023 see a new crop of state-level data privacy laws take hold (hello CPRA), but a majority of advertisers are still highly dependent on third-party cookies. And with Google set to deprecate cookies in its Chrome browser next year, many advertisers are wondering how to forge ahead. In this presentation, Basis Technologies’ own Noor Naseer will break down what advertisers need to know, and detail how they can prepare for a privacy-centric future.

2. Advertising Strategies for a Brutal Budget Season

Advertising? In this economy? While some brands may choose to cut marketing budgets during economic upheaval, those same brands may (ironically) end up spending more when the economy recovers as they try to regain market share. As such, it’s up to marketers to communicate the value of maintaining share of voice, even during turbulent times, to decision-makers. In this presentation, agency veteran Nancy Hill will share strategies for marketers looking to defend their budgets.

3. Brand Activism: No More Business as Usual

Brands are at an interesting turning point when it comes to taking a stand on social issues. While “checking the box” may have been somewhat acceptable in the 2010s, consumers have now grown weary of brand inauthenticity. Gen Z, in particular, has a fine-tuned radar for detecting BS and are more than happy to call it out on social media when they see it. Here, social justice organizers working both within and outside of agencies will discuss how brands can go beyond traditional corporate responsibility.

4. Digital Ads: Climate’s Next Great Battleground

Digital advertising has a CO2 problem. This session will cover why advertisers should care about their impact on the environment, and demonstrate how they can significantly reduce their carbon emissions each year without upending the reach or efficiency of their advertising. Of course, advertisers can’t solve the climate crisis on their own—and this presentation will touch on how the advertising system will need to change as well. Real talk: We'd attend this presentation solely because it’s led by the inventor of the ad exchange, Brian O’Kelley, but we’re also curious to hear about his solutions to one of the biggest problems facing advertisers (and, you know, humanity).

5. Diverse Creators Are Underpaid: How Do We Fix It?

Despite the diversity, equity, and inclusion work that many brands have prioritized in recent years, the industry has yet to achieve equal pay. This panel will specifically explore the pay gap between white and BIPOC influencers, which currently sits at a shameful 29%. Panel experts will not only explore the factors perpetuating this pay gap and ideas for how the advertising industry can close it, but also other DEI issues such as algorithmic bias and tokenism in influencer marketing.

6. How TikTok Redefined the Customer Journey

TikTok really is changing everything: from the music industry, to how Gen Z searches online, to the marketing funnel. Consumers are no longer consistently moving from the top of the funnel to the bottom, but are instead shifting in and out of the funnel more fluidly. In this presentation, TikTok’s Rachael Ryan and Material’s Jeff Stone will explore how the platform has changed the marketing paradigm and offer tips for how marketers can adjust their strategies accordingly.

7. Navigating Calculated Risk on Social Media

It’s been a turbulent couple of years for social media. The very nature of the channel makes it rife for brand safety concerns, not to mention additional considerations that have cropped up lately around specific platforms (ahem, Twitter). This panel will explore how advertisers can actually lean into that risk to create a presence that stands out. It sounds...risky, we know! But don’t worry, the presenters also plan to cover how brands should react when a calculated risk has unsavory consequences.

Fascinating stuff, right? Happy learning—and please do stop by “Will Data Privacy Kill Advertising?” on March 13th, hosted by Basis Technologies’ very own industry veteran and thought leader, Noor Naseer, and say hello!