This year, attendance at OMD, the Online Marketing conference held in Düsseldorf, was expected to top last year’s 6000 attendees — but I think everyone was surprised by the 11.000 who registered!
And for much of Tuesday, it seemed as though they were all blocking the aisles between me at the next seminar I wanted to attend or booth I wanted to visit.
Naturally, the web analytics vendors were represented — Omniture, WebTrends, Nedstat, Visual Sciences — though they all had smaller booths since for them, it’s a “must be there to show your face” kind of event, not one where prospects really coming looking for you. Google had a huge presence, and at least one or two of the GA folks where at their booth, but you couldn’t find them among the 50(!) other Googlers who were wearing brightly-colored T-shirts and chatting with everyone who came by.
So what were marketers being told?
Most of the same things you’ve already heard about two years ago, if you attended trade shows in the U.S. Granted, the material has been updated, but the list of topics still concerns the fundamentals like paid search (SEM), natural search (SEO), using rich media like video and flash, and then some community-related things, heading towards viral marketing, word of mouth marketing, and the like. So while the topic list was not particularly sophisticated (with one surprising exception I’ll talk about next), the attendees had one distinct benefit over their U.S. counterparts. That is, there were a number of actual case studies and examples, that showed what really worked, and debunked some of the hype to show real returns on investment. Okay, not true ROI with financial disclosure, since after all, these are marketers and not financial analysts, but at least we were given cases that claimed 50% lift in online sales, not 5000% lift. And traffic growth for viral campaigns was talked about reasonably — a big spike, but often very little, if any, retention of traffic even two weeks later. So the benefit of being a “second mover” in this case was going into new marketing media with realistic expectations, and knowing that your competition was at about the same stage as you, not significantly further ahead.
What was the biggest surprise?
For me, it was the prevalence of mobile marketing vendors and consultants. These were primarily selling an advertising platform, giving you the ability to blast SMS or MMS messages to mobile phones of prospects. I’m still reading the product literature, but based on the show directory, there were 37 vendors listed under the Mobile Business category! Granted, some of them are probably listed under every category possible simply because of their size, or the fact that they’re really agencies trying to be everything to everyone. Still, this impressive list of 20 vendors specifically for mobile advertising applications really surprised me.
Why is this surprising?
Especially given that mobile advertising has been around for some time now (though perhaps less so in the United States than Europe or certainly Asia)? Because when Eric T. Peterson talks about Web 3.0, we begin to understand that using mobile media that is not simply SMS or MMS messaging, but actually mobile web browsing through a device like an iPhone or WiFi handheld unit. And who better to capitalize on the advertising platform than those already skilled at capturing the mobile share of a marketer’s budget than the group represented here? Indeed, they are the most nimble and likely to react to the incoming wave of mobile internet advertising opportunities. If I were in that field, I would most likely view the usual interactive web partners as fresh competition, and compete vigorously to protect my client base from erosion by branching out and pre-empting their entries into the market.
digame mobile GmbH
dynetic solutions GmbH
G&J Electronic Media Sales GmbH
Hiwave GmbH (bluetooth!)
I-D Media AG and I-D Media Entertainment GmbH
InteractiveMedia CCSP GmbH
Jamba! (Jamster) GmbH
Liquid Air Lab GmbH
Microsoft Digital Advertising Solutions
Mobilant Communications GmbH
net mobile AG
NEXT ID GmbH
Schober eServices GmbH
teltarif.de Onlineverlag GmbH
Whatever Mobile GmbH
Would I attend again?
Well, for learning about the state of the industry, OMD isn’t the best show to attend. One can generally surmise the main points of any presentation by asking 1) what was the equivalent discussion in the United States one or two years ago, and 2) what do I know about the presenter’s company, and its success or failure in the market to date? Still, the important takeaways from this show are more learning what marketers in Germany are ready to hear — because it takes time to adopt a new technology, new set of processes and skills, and certainly a new culture or way of doing business. The show presenters are generally good about gaging the readiness of their audience for any given topic, and take care to select presenters at the right levels.
Also, it’s always good to know your local market, and as OX2’s Analytics Country Manager for Germany, I need to know what German service providers are providing strong competition against their better-known pan-European or global counterparts. It’s always surprising to see how strong some of the local and regional players are, and I can only imagine that if they attempted to penetrate the US and global markets, they’d do quite well based on their fundamentally sound technology and service offerings. Of course, marketing is a big differentiator — and what better place to study it than at the premier trade show for Online Marketing?
For those of you who also attended OMD, what did you think the highlights of the show were? Please let us know!
— “Wandering” Dave Rhee, OX2 Analytics Country Manager, Germany