Hamburg News: Philipp, you launched your event eight years ago at Bucerius Law School and the digital conference attracted 200 visitors. Then, venues in Große Freiheit, Stage Theater, St. Pauli Stadium followed. Today, the Online Marketing Rockstars (OMR) festival is one of the world’s biggest digital marketing events. You are expecting over 50,000 visitors at Hamburg Messe + Congress centre and the halls may soon be bursting at the seams. What’s next?
Westermeyer: We’re not planning that far ahead. We really think from one festival to the next and see what the possibilities are. Our very rough vision is to build a modern media house consisting of different pillars i.e. live formats, but also podcasts and different kinds of digital contents. This could be expanded to a wider range of topics and beyond digital marketing. Different sources of revenue are very important and could come from tickets, sponsorships, brand partnerships, perhaps even catering in the end.
Hamburg News: More and more new formats and special events are docking onto the OMR festival. Is this part of a new concept? “Before the festival is before the festival.” What are your plans for 2020 and beyond? Please, don’t say there aren’t any.
Westermeyer: Of course, we are delighted by the many side events. Ultimately, we alone will never be able to expand an international event. You need many partners and have to have the city behind you, so to speak, and the side events reflect that. We see an opportunity to grow a little in terms of international visitors. There is huge potential in that respect. But we really have not made concrete plans in terms of numbers so far.
Hamburg News: You are hugely successful with your podcasts. Should people jump on this bandwagon now or what’s next?
Westermeyer: You should definitely listen to podcasts, (laughs). But seriously, the offer is huge and the market is growing and will continue to become differentiated. Many niches still exist. I really believe in podcasts in the long run, but I don’t see anything comparable at the moment.
Hamburg News: What are your three top tips for digital marketing?
Westermeyer: First and foremost, it is important to make a product so good that marketing is embedded in it. Organic social sharing holds huge potential for success as does a direct relationship with customers. Otherwise, you have to wait for the product and the marketing decision-maker with a significant budget for podcasts. You can wield a commanding influence on an entire genre with comparatively little money and reach a very demanding target group. That’s exciting given the right product. And thirdly, I might look for an interesting collaborating partner and to exchange target groups.
Hamburg News: Successful digital marketing is a bit like brain hacking. Bring, for instance, the Israeli historian and mastermind Yuval Noah Harari on stage. He takes a very differentiated view of technology. The biggest challenges facing mankind are nuclear wars, climate change and artificial intelligence, he says. What stance do you take on these social issues?
Westermeyer: I find him very interesting and his theses are absolutely worthy of discussion. I’m not as sceptical as he is. Of all these things, I’m particularly concerned about climate change.
Hamburg News: The Future Hamburg Award will be presented at the festival for the first time in 2019. More than 100 start-ups from all over the world have entered the contest and have shown keen interest in the location. And you are committed to Hamburg with the OMR festival. There are certainly many reasons for this. Which one is the most important to you?
Westermeyer: Hamburg is one of the world’s most attractive cities. Depending on your point of view, I find a cosmopolitan city and a village equally attractive.
_Interview by Karolin Köcher _
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