Mobile Saturday Becomes Second Highest Trending Topic at SXSW Interactive

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We’re coming off a pretty huge weekend here at the Airship with most of the crew now back from SXSW where, for the second year in the row, we delivered the festival’s only daylong track dedicated to mobile. Not only did our packed house and all-star line-up of customers and mobile experts help make Mobile Saturday (#MobileSat) a top trending topic, we powered push for the official SXSW® GO app for the third year in a row and worked with partner Eventbase Technology Inc. (formerly Xomo) to deliver some of SXSW’s first iBeacon experiences.

Attendees who braved the rainy weather to stand in long lines for Mobile Saturday, were greeted by a couple of different iBeacon-triggered experiences (assuming they also had the SXSW app, opted in to push, agreed to share their location and had Bluetooth turned on—essentially a triple opt-in process). The first of these triggered a notification and in-app landing page with the day’s agenda:

The second iBeacon experience reached people who not only crossed the event’s threshold, but were near one of the main stage iBeacons. They first received what looked like a standard SXSW push notification, which led to a rich landing page with instructions on entering our longboard giveaway.

Beyond the industry’s growing fascination with iBeacons as the key to delivering contextually relevant, proximity-based mobile experiences, the range and caliber of conversations was superb. We owe a huge thanks to panelists including ABC News, Atimi,, Bottle Rocket (WPP’s OgilvyOne), eBay, Eventbase Technology, Forrester Research Inc., Golf Channel, The Location Based Marketing Association (LBMA), News International, NFL, R/GA, REI, Showtime Networks and Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide.

At the highest level there’s a growing realization that mobile isn’t the new thing, it is everything. Mobile goes beyond a channel focus to enable ubiquitous customer experiences; and in terms of mobile expectations, consumers are moving faster than brands. eBay, which started experimenting with mobile seven years ago, says mobile now accounts for $22B in transactions. eBay’s big aha mobile moment—adding push notifications to its traditional auction model to make sure losing bids didn’t miss out on their last chance.

There was a huge amount of discussion around personalization and respecting users’ preferences, trust and time by making mobile experiences as relevant as possible. Mobile requires brands think about the mobile moments they can own in their consumers’ lives, while religiously ensuring an appropriate privacy value exchange. A speaker from the NFL disclosed that while their app’s traditional use of push and location opt-in requests covered its iBeacon deployment at the Super Bowl, they decided to explicitly ask users for permission resulting in an opt-in rate north of 80%.

With mobile, consumers are more in control than ever before and loyalty is being redefined. Loyalty used to mean consumers being loyal to a brand, but now a brand must be loyal to its customers and mobile is unlocking the ability to deliver hyper-personalized services that will surpass traditional rewards programs.

There was so much content covered at Mobile Saturday that this post barely scratches the surface. We’re working hard to get complete recaps and full videos up for each of the sessions—sign up to be among the first to see them here—and in the meantime you can take a look at attendees tweets that capture their reactions and sentiment to what was shared:

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