Digital Marketing

Philipp Westermeyer, CEO of OMR: "Don't go paranoid now!"

6 February 2023
Westermeyer outlines plans for festival 2023 and bed hunting in interview with Hamburg News

More than 72,000 visitors flocked to Europe's biggest digital festival last year and the numbers are likely to be similar when the Online Marketing Rockstars Festival gets underway from May 9-10, 2023. However, organisers do not anticipate an upswing in numbers as the mega event normally unfolds in all of Hamburg's exhibition halls anyway, Philipp Westermeyer, CEO of OMR told Hamburg News in an interview. Yet, he is eyeing the new Congress Center Hamburg (CCH) and reveals what residents of Hamburg and their bedrooms have to do with the festival.

Hamburg News: Nice to see you again, Philipp. Let's have at a look at your crystal ball. What trends and innovations can be expected this year in the digital world and post pandemic marketing?

Philipp: There is no one big trend, but there are exciting developments. Last year, we focused on blockchain, crypto-currencies and metaverse. At the moment, plenty of attention is being paid to artificial intelligence and in the marketing sector, the technology is opening up many new possibilities for producing content much faster and cheaper. AI systems such as Dall-E, Midjourney and Stable, for instance, create their own images from just a few words. The first agencies are now advertising the opportunities that these artificially created images offer for brands.

Hamburg News: To what extent do the surroundings impact crises and new opportunities in your industry?

Philipp: We are not experiencing a slump in bookings. But we are discussing the content and are mulling sensible marketing solutions and digital strategies in view of the challenges.

Hamburg News: How is OMR doing? Which of your business areas is "rocking" at the moment? Are you planning anything new?

Philipp: We are always trying out something for which we think there is demand. The OMR Reviews allows users to compare software solutions and is going well. Our  education sector is also growing similar to our subsidiary, Podstars, that brings together advertisers and users. Naturally, the OMR Festival is our top priority.

Hamburg News: What are you going to rock the upcoming 2023 festival with? Do you have an underlying theme or a world-famous guest lined up? The guest appearance by Quentin Tarantino was a real magnet and hard to beat.

Philipp: We have put out feelers and sent out some enquiries. However, really big international guests take their time and do not confirm early. Apart from that, one big name is not so important. Our emphasis is on the portfolio of around 800 keynote speakers in commerce, technology, entertainment and marketing on the many stages at OMR. That is a huge, team effort. We don't have a declared focal topic, but as I said, artificial intelligence will take up lots of space at this year's festival.

Philipp Westermeyer

Hamburg News: To stay with big numbers...more than 72,000 visitors attended last year's festival. Do you want to top those numbers this year?

Philipp: We do not intend doing that. We are concerned mainly with consolidation. Besides, we, already fill all the exhibition halls, so we can't do much more. Last year, we even had to stop selling tickets. However, there's the new CCH... but we won't be there this year. Don't go paranoid now!

Hamburg News: You are also involved with start-ups. Will there be an extra start-up area again?

Philipp: Not this year. We are expecting many founders whose products are valued and not simply because they are a start-up. We are offering young companies special rates this year. Just contact us. 

Hamburg News: And are there problems accommodating all those visitors?

Philipp: Exactly! That's proving a real headache. The prices of beds in Pinneberg, Lübeck and Lüneburg, for instance, have soared as there are no more affordable beds for the OMR Festival in Hamburg. So, we are wondering how we can encourage the people of Hamburg to provide private accommodation. We are working on this at full speed.

Hamburg News: Have you thought of a matching platform or an app?

Philipp: Why not? Anything is possible.

Hamburg News: Well, it is definitely never dull with you lot. Many thanks for the exciting talk. 

Interview by Karolin Köcher

Sources and further information


Philipp Westermeyer works on festivals, podcasts, platforms, a book and a TV tower for events. His diversity is probably one of the reasons why OMR grew during the pandemic. Launched in 2011 by a small team during a digital marketing workshop and for target a small target group, last year's OMR Festival attracted more than 70,000 visitors to Hamburg. The company has a workforce of 300 and earned over EUR 50 million in turnover in 2022.  OMR is now aiming for even more growth.

Philipp Westermeyer

Philipp Westermeyer, 44, is the founder of Hamburg's Online Marketing Rockstars (OMR) festival. A native of Essen and of Hamburg by choice, he studied business administration and media management and was later Executive Assistant at Bertelsmann AG. Eventually, he became an entrepreneur and founded an online marketing agency, which was sold to Gruner+Jahr. Westermeyer later founded an advertising technology company and sold it to Zalando. As a sideline, he began establishing OMR as a conference and series of seminars.

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