Skip to content
The 3 Biggest Takeaways for Brands from SXSW 2024 – Web
Pilot44 Team5 min read

The 3 Biggest Takeaways for Brands from SXSW 2024

The 3 Biggest Takeaways for Brands from SXSW 2024

SXSW 2024 has once again lived up to its reputation as a melting pot of innovation, creativity, and forward-thinking. This year, aside from hosting a strategic foresight workshop “The Future of Advertising”, our team dove deep into the heart of the event, exploring new tracks and immersing ourselves in the buzz that only SXSW can generate. 

Among the plethora of insights, three major trends stood out to us, signaling not just the direction in which technology and creativity are moving but also outlining the landscape of opportunities and challenges that lie ahead.


1. Creator Economy is Here to Stay

The Creator Economy was one of the new tracks at SXSW this year. Sessions covered everything from distribution and new monetization strategies to new platforms for creators to grow their communities. 

SXSW Panel_Connection in the Era of Creators

Photo: A creator panel with Han Wen, the Chief Digital Officer of L’Oréal USA, and Adam Kornblum, SVP, Global Head of Digital Marketing [center] talking about their collaboration with Bobby Althoff, Comedian And Podcaster [on the right]. Audio recording of the session is available here - Superstar Brands: Connection in the Era of Creators.






What stood out from listening to a number of creator panels is that there is a shift emerging in how creators build their businesses and what they look for from brand partners.

While we definitely live in a world where TikTok and sponsored content make earning a living as a creator very possible, we are also seeing a trend of creators leaving popular social platforms to create their own spaces and creating physical products to unlock new revenue streams. So where does this leave brands and creators?


What does it mean for brands?

While this trend is a potential threat as creators become brands themselves, it is also a big opportunity to tap into the creator economy and approach it in a way that builds trust and fosters longer-term strategic partnerships.

  • Embrace your niche
    While it’s easy to gravitate to mega-creators who are approaching celebrity status, do not ignore the millions of mid-tier and micro-creators who are reaching highly engaged and passionate niche communities. Brands that lean into these communities and provide valuable content are in a position to contribute and engage in a meaningful way with a highly targeted audience
  • Creative freedom is critical
    Creators excel in audience engagement and two-way interaction. For brands to effectively harness the reach of creators, they’ll have to be comfortable with letting creators retain the creative freedom to authentically engage with their audiences
  • Think like a creator
    There was a great panel called Forget Collabs: Why Brands Should Act Like Creators Instead. It posed an interesting question of: what if instead of just collaborating with creators, brands developed their own creator-like communication techniques? 


2. AI is Moving Beyond the Hype

2023 was the year of generative AI. 92% of Fortune 500 companies are exploring the use of generative AI in some way, and more than 2M+ developers have been using open AI’s API since it launched in March 2023.

So it’s not a surprise that sponsored by IBM, the AI track was expansive this year with over 1500 sessions devoted to the topic. White AI was definitely the big buzzword, the conversations and topics were grounded much more in reality vs. the usual hyped-up messaging that AI is coming for all our jobs. 

Panels and presentations focused on the importance of responsible AI, as well as the role of organizations and technology to safeguard against the imminent dangers within AI such as fake news and deep fakes which are rapidly coming to the public’s attention.

SXSW Exhibitors AIPARK and dob Studio

AiVATAR [on the left] is a platform for generating AI-based avatars and videos featuring digital humans, aimed at uses in media, education, and marketing.  Dobstudio's products, Virtual Human and Facetate, use cutting-edge AI to craft highly realistic digital personas, offering experiences nearly indistinguishable from real-life interactions.



What does it mean for brands?

  • Look to the startup ecosystem for new cutting-edge applications of AI to drive brand innovation. While Microsoft/Open AI and Google dominate the headlines, there were over 100 AI startups showcased at SXSW pitching transformative ideas for content creation, video advertising, generative AI product placement and more
  • Experiment. Brands can leverage AI to innovate and create differentiated experiences in a crowded market
  • Ethical use, transparency, and security in AI applications become crucial aspects to avoid security breaches and misinformation


3. Spatial Computing will Revolutionize our 



The XR Exhibit was wildly popular with long lines of people at all hours waiting to experience the latest immersive experiences. Underpinning the XR track this year was a lot of excitement and discussion around spatial computing, which is a technology that combines the physical world with virtual content, seamlessly blurring the lines of online and offline. 

While this sounds a lot like the metaverse hype a few years ago, what was clear from the speakers this year is that the technology is advancing at lightning speed and we are at the precipice of a major technology revolution that will forever alter how we interact with computers.


What does it mean for brands?

  • Brands need to start thinking in 3D. With the rise of XR, consumers expect more immersive experiences from brands and retailers. This means that advertisers need to be able to create high-quality 3D content that can be used in these new environments.
  • Investing in understanding and adopting spatial computing early or exploring partnerships with spatial computing technology innovators is a chance to gain market advantage and boost customer engagement


Turning SXSW Insights into Brand Opportunities

SXSW 2024 delivered a clear message for brands: embrace innovation, prioritize genuine engagement, and leverage emerging technologies to stay ahead. These trends highlight the urgent need for brands to adapt and innovate, embracing new technologies and methodologies to connect with audiences in authentic, meaningful ways. 

Whether through forging genuine partnerships with creators, integrating AI responsibly to enhance customer experiences, or pioneering immersive environments with spatial computing, the path forward is marked by opportunities for brands to redefine engagement and set new benchmarks in creativity and innovation. 


Ready to lead in innovation and connect with your audience on a whole new level? 
We’re here to help!

Contact Us



Pilot44 Team

Meet the Pilot44 Crew: thinkers, creators, and disruptors shaking up the innovation landscape. We band together, pen in hand, to chart the unexplored territories of business and tech, delivering impactful insights. We turn collaboration into an art form, crafting stories that spark curiosity and drive action.