For the last few years, in-the-know marketers have said that SXSW has jumped the shark.
And sure, some B2B software companies are skipping out on the renowned Austin festival to focus their efforts on more niche Q1 conferences. Facebook and Snap Inc. will not be hosting their own events. Spotify—the reigning champion of SXSW—will not produce their staple Spotify House. Airbnb isn’t activating, Funny Or Die isn’t making their usual appearance, and Uber drivers aren’t even allowed to operate in Austin anymore.
Grant Gitlin, CXO of MediaLink, thinks that compared to the year’s other big tech and marketing conferences, SXSW delivers the most business value. “CES is the one that kicks off the year. It sets the tone. But SXSW is based around innovation—what should you explore. Then Cannes is where the deals happen and the contracts get signed,” he said.
The numbers back it up. Event marketing used to be a black hole for PR and branding budgets, but today’s companies can measure the granular impact events have on their bottom line. When you can monitor how much each touchpoint affects the sales funnel, it is no wonder companies are doubling down at SX. Many have reported to see their $25K – $100K investment from SXSW pay off more than three to one return on investment in four to six months.