Overheard At Social Media Week Chicago: Day 1



Browse select soundbites from our first day of programming at Social Media Week Chicago.

Our first day of Social Media Week Chicago welcomed speakers from some of the most influential brands, agencies, and publishers around. Below is a roundup based on our exclusive interviews with some of our esteemed speakers.

For full access to their interviews, and all Stage 1 sessions, join SMW Insider.

Carolyn Calzavara, Program Director, IBM Watson

On how IBM Watson defines AI:

“IBM was the company that brought the first commercial AI system to market, not that many years ago. What we’ve learned is that there’s a lot of curiosity about AI. People are intrigued by the idea—they want to know what they can do with it. Part of our job is to set those expectations. One of the most important things we do is reinforce that AI does stand for artificial intelligence, but in our world, we call it augmented intelligence. It’s intended to work side-by-side with humans to enhance decision-making, rather than to replace humans.”

On a favorite use-case for AI:

“There are so many good use-cases of AI. One example is Havas’ Woman Interrupted application, which is a mobile app that records your voice and counts how many times, as a woman, you’re interrupted. It’s designed to bring awareness to gender inequality.”

Marc Blanchard, Global Head of Experience Design, Havas

On how Havas is using AI to enhance experience design:

“What AI lets us do is understand the individual personality, the needs, and the values of individual people who are showing up in your digital experiences. For TD Ameritrade, we built a conversational system that asks a few open-ended questions about people’s attitudes toward life—not necessarily related to finance—and from that information we build a profile that translates into a hyper-personalized investment education curriculum that’s keyed not just to what people want to achieve [financially], but also based on their relationship to money. Are they risk-tolerant or risk averse? Or they impatient or do they persevere? Do they have a long-term outlook or a short-term outlook? You can build personal experiences for every individual customer who shows up to your brand experience.”

On how AI is changing the practice of experience design:

“It’s a humbling experience because when you start building these AI-powered experiences, you don’t have to make as many assumptions. You can build an open-ended system that delivers different things to different people based on what they’re asking for. By having that more natural interaction that mimics humans, you don’t have to rely on assumptions around how people want to interact with your system. You don’t have to pre-assume as much as you used to.”

Erica Barth, SVP of Performance Marketing, Edelman Digital

On the role of longer-form video content in an increasingly short-form world:

“While all the trends are pointing toward short-form video and ad formats, there’s still a place to develop rich, engaging longer-form video content alongside publisher partners. For brands, selecting the right partner is critical: You need to think through what’s the right fit for your brand from a tone perspective, as well as what are the criteria in terms of what you’re trying to achieve from an objective standpoint.”

On how influencer marketing and paid media can work together:

“Influencers can be a great complement [to paid efforts]. At Edelman, we have a team that specializes in influencer partnerships that works closely with the performance team. Similar to any other channel, you need the paid promotion behind your efforts to make them work. Influencers can be a great way for brands to tell their story via an authentic voice and then distribute that story to relevant and engaged audiences.”

Jack Rooney, Chairman, Ogilvy & Mather Chicago

On helping modernize Morton Salt with mission-based marketing:

“The Morton brand is 170 years old, and yet it has jumped both feet into the modern marketplace and into the modern channels of communications. This spans everything from its social presence to its employee programs and community involvement—[Morton] is anything but introverted and old-fashioned.”

On how brands can stand for something without losing authenticity:

“How does a brand become a force for good? How does a brand pick a place to take a stand? When we talk about the notion of being a good corporate citizen—there’s nothing unique about that. We believe that many brands do things that are generic. They become involved in a thinly-conceived way, or they get involved in too many things. In the case of Morton, they really figured out what was authentic to them and to who they are. Their “Walk Her Walk” platform [inspired by the iconic Morton Salt Girl] is an affirmation of what the brand believes, and they’ve chosen empowerment as the foundation from which they speak as a brand.”

Arthur Sevilla, Vertical Strategy Lead (CPG), Pinterest

On why Pinterest is focusing on visual discovery:

“The internet has often delivered a lot of factual information through searching—asking a direct question for a direct answer—but it hasn’t necessarily allowed for the discovery of new information. Pinterest is akin to the right side of your brain, helping to guide and influence a discovery of new and exciting things.”

On how visual search is driving brand discovery on Pinterest:

“Sometimes you don’t have the words to describe what you’re looking for—you need a picture to help you understand what your interest is. That’s why, for us, visual discovery is the platform for tomorrow. People come onto Pinterest well ahead of the planning cycle. Because they come at an early stage, brands can influence which brands are chosen through the consumer journey.”

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