Web Summit 2014 [DAY 1]
Over the last couple of weeks I’ve been away getting married in Boston and honeymooning in Tulum, so Deirdre Savage from digital marketing agency, Big Bang filled in for me at this year’s Web Summit and wrote the following summary.
The Web Summit has returned to Dublin this year in style. Over double the size of last years impressive show, catering to over 20,000 attendees and taking over every squre inch of the RDS it is certainly an event to behold. I was luck enough to gain a front row ticket to the event as part of the Live Team. Comprising of over 100 people, the Live Team is granted access to all areas of the Summit in order to relay it to the world via the medium of, well, the internet.
I woke on Tuesday morning under a haze of anticipation; I have never been to the Web Summit and had no idea what to expect. Before we even arrived in the RDS the scale of the event was evident. The streets were thronged with lanyard touting techies bringing their wears from all over the globe to showcase them to the people that could make-or-break them.
The transformation of the RDS in the last few days has been amazing. Between the impressive stages, the shipping container bridge and the great coffee the innovation and professionalism of the Web Summit team shone through.
For the first half of Day 1 I was assigned to the people and pitching stages in the Town Square.
I kicked off the day talking to some interesting little companies who had made the square their home for the first half of the day. Heliguy was one of the first to grab attention as they had large drone, named Merlin, in the middle of the square. Most of their products are used for arieal photography but this beast was meant for bigger things.
On the other side of the square was an Australian woman named Wendy Dent. She grabbed my attention because she was wearing an ECG headset. By tracking a viewers emotional response and correlating it with their location her programme, Cinemmerse is able to recommend a relevant documentary. The interface will then give you additional information on the content and location to provide a fully immersive experience.
The pitching stages were essentially like dragons den; a startup would be given 4 minutes to pitch to three investors and then face with 3 minutes of questions. No pressure at all. The companies pitching were producing wildly different products covering all areas of tech but they had one thing in common and that was that they had received least then $3 million in funding.
In the humanitarian corner was BreezoMeter from Israel. They use real time, location based information on pollution levels and air quality to advise you on what you should and should not do. Thankfully in Ireland we do not have too much of a problem with this, but in many countries air quality is a hot topic.
Following on from BreezoMeter came Homage, sitting nicely in the business corner. Their app essentially changes content into a green screen where by users can place themselves in the middle of existing visual content. One step away from VR, this app allows users to interact in a much more active way with content.
Next Society comfortably represented the startups from the social side of things. By aggregating all your contacts from across social channels and integrating this with your location and professional information it will present you with the most relevant contact and allow you to get in touch in one click.
At the end of the first half of the day the investors were asked to give one piece of advice to people pitching. Three investors gave their two cents but they all said the same thing; don’t try to share everything in a short amount of time. When pitching try to get one or two points across, if they want more information they will ask for it.
The Second half of the day was spent in the Sports Summit. The over arching theme of this area was to do with fan engagement and the need to be present at all times.
First up was Richard Arnold, Group Managing Director for Manchester United, who shared the five pillars Manchester United use to successfully engage with their millions of fans:
- Localise – be culturally aware, not just in language but in how you speak with the users.
- Digestible content
- Be on the right platform – ManU has a whopping 110 million fans on Weibu
- Don’t just talk. Listen. Stimulate fans to respond
- Ensure your content is unique.
Uncertainty generates engagement so sports does have an advantage here but these pillars should be used in every industry.
Jerement Schaap of ESPN and Ger Gilroy of Newstalk expanded on the discussion of fan engagement. It is unquestionable that fan engagement brings users closer to the action but the different measuring tools across varying platforms has resulted in many murky numbers. Schaap and Gilroy both believe that we are in a transition period now and the way we interact with data and content will change significantly in the near future. Communications is more than content and a recurring theme throughout the whole day was that this will need to be addressed. Engagement is one thing but there is a growing need to understand the semantics behind that to further optimise marketing strategies.
At the end of day one I am still buzzing from excitement. There is an incredible amount of innovation and passion emanating from the Web Summit. I look forward to diving back into it for Day 2.