TNW Europe 2016

Running since 2008, the The Next Web European Conference takes place at its spiritual home of The Westergasfabriek, a renovated 19th century industrial complex set in modern landscaped parkland in Amsterdam. Clearly a good match for 20,000 digital enthusiasts that were there to absorb knowledge, network and party.

With a pick of two exhibition areas, six stages and 150 speakers, there were some incredible things going on, but I’d like to share the top five things that have remained with me.

’13 minute engagement is unheard of these days’

CEO of Reddit, Steve Huffman, discussed the latest Superbowl collaboration around superheros which was commissioned by Marvel and drove some serious engagement. In any form of advertising, to achieve an average of 13 minutes engagement is fairly rare, if not unheard of. Even the CEO himself admits Reddit looks “shockingly ugly”, however it’s content is some of the best online, offering a great opportunity for marketers to be creative.

Certainly a platform we’ll consider more seriously in the future.

‘Meta Me will blow your mind’

A fascinating talk about machine learning from AI genius, Jarard Ficklin. He discussed the future of personal devices, how they’ll be developed to know anything and everything about our lives, eventually taking over tasks that would normally require our attention and time. Think booking dinner with a friend, a task that can involve a lengthy process of comparing diaries, sending times and locations backwards and forwards until you find something that works for you both. But instead, your two phones will simply connect and decide what the most compatible time is, the location and even the type of food you’re likely to enjoy, all based on your ‘Meta Me’, while confirming the reservation without the need of you actually communicating.

Follow Jarrad Ficklin on Twitter to find out more about his developing AI projects.

“90% of your budget should go into Snapchat if you want to reach teens”

Gary Vaynerchuk is an entrepreneur, investor, author, public speaker, and internet personality – and a tad controversial. Honestly, he’s either loved or loathed, and personally I’m still a little on the fence. I did however enjoy his high intensity talk on business success. One thing he was sure about was the value of Snapchat, particularly with the younger generation. If you’re reaching out to teens, 90% of your budget should go straight into Snapchat – it’s one of the only places they’re likely to engage.

Why do we need to be restricted to a screen’

It was a massive privilege to listen to John Underkoffler, king of User Interface (UI) and famed for creating the UI for Minority Report. Discussed in the video below (definitely worth a watch), ‘Big UI’ is everything and needs to be changed. It hasn’t changed in a big way in 30 years.

To me the most relevant was the notion of modern day devices being limited to just their screens.

‘Eyyy Homie, I’m Boris Bot’

Downloading the TNW Conference app gave me access to schedules, bios, maps and attendee contact details to network. Although there were hundreds of people registered, we were tasked with trying to find a secret chatbot that was hidden among us. In honesty, his name was a bit of a giveaway, but for my first interaction with a bot, I loved the organic and more personal feel it gave compared to an automated script. It won’t be long before “Press 1 for…” or “Press 2 for…” is completely a thing of the past.

Screeb grab of Boris Bot