For the first time, Snapchat will be a sponsor of the annual South by Southwest festival, and it’s taking over the Parlor Room bar in downtown Austin, Texas.
From March 10-12, Snap Inc. will hold a variety of talks for all SXSW festivalgoers, the company said, during which Snap executives and other partners will discuss the future of social media and technology. Panel discussions will also include representatives from agencies including TBWA and Engine, along with media companies such as HBO and Giphy. Based on the session topics, it seems Snap is ready to further play up what SXSW is known for—the intersection of tech, brands and culture.
On March 10, Adam Warfield will DJ an event co-hosted by Worldz, followed a day later by a talk about the viral growth of content and how it relates to images, text and sound. Other panels include discussions about meme culture and augmented reality, as well as more provocative discussions such as whether social media is “the new fast food.” In addition to the series of talks, the Snap House will have daily happy hours as well as not-yet-announced activations.
While some social media companies make a bigger splash ever year—Google in 2018 built a “fun house” to showcase its Google Assistant platform—Snap has been more muted. During SXSW 2017, it dropped a Snapbot vending machine for the company’s camera-equipped sunglasses but has otherwise chosen to not be one of the dozens of brands and tech companies vying for the attention of the more than 70,000 attendees.
Snap declined to elaborate on why it’ll have a presence for the first time this year. However, the company’s big push might be a boast of confidence after its recent strong quarterly earnings and new efforts to attract advertisers. Last month, Snap reported $390 million in revenue and flat—but finally not declining—user growth, providing a glimpse of good news for the company that struggled through most of last year. However, Snap has already warned investors that the first quarter of 2019 might not be as strong as Wall Street expects.
Snap isn’t the only social network heading from the west to the southwest. Facebook and Google will have a presence again this year, while streaming services like Spotify and Pandora plan to scale back.