The numbers are impressive on their own: 50,000 in attendance, 1500 CMOs, 5000 brands, 400 exhibitors and 300 speakers. Dig a little deeper, however, and the numbers are truly remarkable. A digital marketing event that launched eight years ago to little fanfare with a one-day conference that drew 200 people now commands an entire convention hall and draws people from around the world with world-class speakers like Yuval Harari and Gary Vaynerchuk. But how did it happen?
In the run-up to this year’s OMR Festival, founder and CEO PhilippWestermeyer explained more about how he grew the event so quickly, and his vision for where the Festival is headed. Philipp himself is an industry veteran and serial entrepreneur, previously co-founding 2 adtech companies—adyard, acquired by Gruner + Jahr; and Metrigo, acquired by Zalando.
“Last year, OMR Festival 2018 was held in 6 halls over 2 days. I think the last tally put attendance at just over 40K. We were pleased with the event, but there is much more to do. We haven’t gotten to where we’re going yet.”
That’s Philipp Westermeyer. He speaks like an entrepreneur and CEO, never resting on his laurels, always looking at the big picture, but he’s also down-to-earth, more at home in his Adidas sweatshirt and jeans: ambitious, but humble. “It’s incredible that we’ve come this far. I never would have imagined this when we started out. It was only 3 years ago or so when I stopped calling OMR my side project.”
What was once his “side project” is now a 360° media outlet: daily blog, podcast team, monthly reports, and a full-time staff of 60. And of course the flagship product, the OMR Festival, held in Hamburg, Germany each Spring.
“The initial genesis for OMR was to create a space for founders and entrepreneurs to come together, connect and network. To give them a place to gain exposure to new changes and trends, discuss and adapt their business to them. As the Festival gained traction, we realised that there was a lot of untapped potential for the brand. One of those areas was ayear-round platform on digital and marketing topics. A lot can happen in a month, let alone a year, so it was important to stay in touch and communicate with our audience year round. To hopefully inspire them, positively impact their business and challenge them, too.”
At OMR19, there will be ample space for inspiration and connection, as the eighth OMR Festival spreads to 6 Halls, meaning more speakers (300), more exhibitors (400), Masterclasses (150) and more space than ever before. Headliners include the hottest name on the US marketing scene, Bozoma Saint John, CMO at talent agency Endeavor, previously with Uber and Apple; Andy Puddicombe, Co-Founder of mindfulness app Headspace; and Yuval Harari, one of the top historians and philosophers of our time, with New York Times’ best-sellers like Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow and Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind.
“This year, some of the focus topics will deal with the changing eCommerce landscape, the effect of GDPR, the impact and demystification of AI and new platforms like voice. I’m looking forward to doing more with the Festival and with the platform. Long-term, I think we can do more, scale more—but not at the expense of the core vibe. That has to remain intact.”