HBO sets up a ‘Game of Thrones’ simulation for blood donations at SXSW

Benson says the investment here is worth it, although — like all the company representatives CNBC interviewed — he declined to say how much the company spent.

For Amazon, it’s not just about promoting this particular show, but the fact that an Amazon Prime subscription includes entertainment content. “When you are a member of Prime, most people think of that as being a shipping benefit or other things like cloud storage or photography,” he said.

“The programs and the original content that we are started to put on Prime Video is relatively new, and so the more that we can do to tell people that what we’ve got, it starts to add value. So we’ve seen significant return on investment with our marketing dollars that we put into the marketplace because we see that people either sign up for Prime or they maintain their Prime membership because they are watching the content we have and they are watching a lot of it.”

Vice, which created a roller rink with a DJ in the heart of downtown Austin, also says its investment is worth it.

“I think it absolutely pays off,” said Meghan Kirsch, Viceland SVP of Marketing & Creative. “We have people still talking about our event from last year and whether that’s directly a straight line with either ratings tomorrow or revenue, we know it pays off because people talk about it.”

The key to making an investment in a SXSW marketing experience pay off seems to be making it feel authentic and true to the brand, and making the message so striking and easy to share that it can be easy to communicate on social media.

“More and more people are so savvy, they are their own marketers,” Kirsch said.

“For Vice, bringing an experience for people to come together and have a good time with the brand, I think it’s really valuable even though you’re not hitting tons of people at once, you’re connecting in a way that’s memorable and they are going to be talking about it.”