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SXSW 2014: Content, Connections, and Digital Media Take Center Stage

Parse.ly participated in the SXSW Interactive festival last week in Austin, Tx to connect with customers and monitor the progress of the tech and media industries. In a significant shift from previous years, the business of news appeared to be on the upswing, and the SXSW buzz about new VC funding flowing into the industry lit up social. A Quartz article published during the conference reported this change:

The shift doesn’t simply reflect a renewed confidence in publishing. It’s also a signal that some online media ventures are finally perceived as being sophisticated and agile tech companies, as well.

photoThe business of media was literally on the upswing, as TechCrunch and VentureBeat duked it out at the ffVC Massive tent, where Parse.ly spent time with content creators, customers, and festival go-ers.

Buzzfeed and PandoDaily founders interviewed for the piece credit recent successes in the startup media world as a boon to the industry. As an analytics partner to many of these media startups, Parse.ly’s recent growth is also evidence of this trend.

Upworthy, another successful new startup dominated journalism conversations as  CEO Eli Pariser took the stage in  an interview with New York Times’ David Carr titled “Do Algorithms Dream of Viral Content?” Responding to criticism about Upworthy’s style of “viral journalism”, Pariser defended Upworthy’s algorithmic approach to editorial choices and explained the process and thinking behind their approach:

“It’s trying to look at our content the way an algorithm would see it. Are people sticking with it? Do we know that people are still there, or are people walking out of the room?” he said. “For a long time that’s been something that’s bad to do… an affront to your editorial authority.”

Emerging alongside the business conversations were the broader themes of algorithms, privacy and ethics. Edward Snowden’s Skyped Keynote was one of the hottest events of the entire conference, as was The Intercept’s Glenn Greenwald’s. Both focused on issues of privacy and the risks of journalism in an age of surveillance.

Among the great takeaways listed in PBS MediaShift  last week was this gem from The Atlantic President Scott Havens, who said “Think about your readers as customers”.  We agree at Parse.ly, and that’s exactly why we build technology to help publishers understand their customers better.

It was great to see so many people brave the wild and windy rain to come out and hear Parse.ly CEO Sachin Kamdar speak on the very lively panel “Is Content Marketing Sustainable?” along with Jordan Kretchmer of Livefyre, Mike More of Co-Promote, and Joe Lazauskas of Contently.

Screen shot 2014-03-17 at 11.57.48 AMhttps://twitter.com/parsely/status/442397014744383488

“Connecting to the audience is key” Kamdar pointed out on the panel. How have you been connecting to your audience lately? Let us know in the comments or on tweet us @parsely!

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