#OMR15 Recap: 4 Trends to Rock Online Advertising

Mobile, multi-channel, data, social, SEO – the fifth edition of the Online Marketing Rockstars conference in Hamburg was jam-packed with digital excellence. Lothar Krause, member of the stage bar, shares the most exciting trends for online advertising.

This event recap was first published in German on Adzine.

For the first time, the Online Marketing Rockstars event was extended to two full days, true to the event motto “Rockstars Goes Festival.” Besides the vibrant atmosphere — cool locations, fun crowds, Deichkind, Das Bo, a stage bar, an SEO rapper, crazy after-show parties — #OMR15 impressed with high-quality online marketing content at its best. With more than 2,000 attendees, the conference has evolved into a leading industry gathering and a flagship event for the city of Hamburg, one of Germany’s most important media hubs.

The topics of the event covered every aspect of online marketing. If you work in online advertising, these are the trends that will keep you up at night over the next months.

More Love for Consumers

“Attention is the only asset. If we ignore the consumer, we will lose.” Boom! Digital visionary and keynote speaker Gary Vaynerchuk summarized the thesis that every single speaker would emphasize over the course of the event. “Everyone’s job here is to get attention, tell their story, and sell shit,” he continued, calling on marketers to respect and care about the consumer more.

The reason for his vehement speech is simple: users don’t want to be interrupted. This is why simple retargeting will no longer do the job, and why Facebook is so successful with its integrated, native advertising products. Pinterest founder Evan Sharp has had similar experiences. Pinterest’s Promoted Pins are successful because they are an unintrusive, seamless ad concept that follows the same concept and format as every other pin, just featuring a small reference about the advertiser.

While not everyone has a popular social network — or a visual bookmarking tool, as Sharp defines Pinterest — that they can turn into a native advertising paradise, advertisers definitely can learn from the user-centric approach these two success stories pursue. Instead of following consumers around with simple retargeting — and without user-individualized frequency capping, in the worst case — advertisers should deliver relevancy and value through personalization. Brand messages, product recommendations, timing, device, channel — there are countless variables advertisers can adjust for more relevancy.

Advertisers have these tools for fine-tuning variables at their fingertips already:

Smart Data for Smart Online Marketing

If you talk personalization and user centricity, you need to talk data, too. And boy, did they: almost every speaker emphasized the importance of intelligent data integration. Facebook, geo-driven dating app Lovoo, quiz platform PlayBuzz, US entertainment giant moviepilot — they all use data for more targeted online marketing. Even the SEO experts Kris Jones, Mike King, Marcus Tandler and Andre Alpar couldn’t help but open their panel discussion by applauding the power of CRM-Data — while also praising the value of SEO as one of the best available traffic sources, of course.

Just as important as the power of data were the challenges of data integration. When asked what PlayBuzz does with its rich data assets, founder and CEO Shaul Olmert’s answer was simple: “We collect and structure data, but we don’t know what to do with it. If anyone has an idea, come to me.” He’s not alone with this problem. Generating data is easy, the challenge is to gain the right insights from it and to use them intelligently.

For example, for data-driven personalization: “Forget the classic target audience, every person is different. The one-size-fits-all solution doesn’t exist anymore,” say Jung von Matt CEO Peter Figge and Facebook’s creative thinker Nico Westermann, both prompting advertisers to connect the right story with the right person. As an example, they mention German fashion retailer bonprix: loyal customers know the value of the brand already. When it comes to new customers, however, branding gets more important. The goal is to address different people in different ways, according to their needs.

This idea is also what made moviepilot successful, says founder and CEO Tobias Bauckhage. While a Facebook post about the Twilight saga ecstasizes millions of fans, it also provokes riots among millions of opponents. That’s why moviepilot verticalized its Facebook sites: vampire romance for some, super hero action for others.

“We no longer have to find the lowest common denominator, we can target every segment individually,” explain Figge and Westermann. This was also the topic of the Sociomantic masterclass, “Data Strategies for Online Marketing,” that took place during the Rockstars Expo on day one.

Karsten Müller, Managing Director DACH, called this new trend hyper-segmentation, explaining, “In an ideal world, advertisers segment their users into new and existing customers, and into several CRM groups across all channels and devices, like desktop, Facebook and mobile.”

The next step in data-driven online advertising is segmentation based on customer lifetime value (CLV).

“Advertisers have to know the long-term value of each customer, not just the value of the single transaction,” explains Müller, which Vaynerchuk confirms: “We have to think in lifetime value and emotional long-term relationships, it’s not just about impressions anymore.”

Multi-Device Marketing

This year, the agenda did not include a presentation that was explicitly about mobile, and yet it was — alongside data — among the event’s most discussed topics. “We are hardly an arms length away from our phones, not even at night,” said Vaynerchuk. “If you don’t think mobile-first, if you don’t have a mobile-friendly website, then you don’t live in 2015, then you are not in our time,” he reasoned. Olmert from PlayBuzz agrees. Already 66 percent of its traffic comes from mobile. Pinterest is in a similar situation: if he was to found the company again today, said Sharp, it probably would be a mobile-first project.

This is great news for our industry. Nobody talks about mobile as if it was desktop’s little brother or a nice-to-have solution anymore. Multi-device has become an integral topic in every discussion and an omni-present challenge. This shows that the industry no longer thinks in devices and screen sizes and operating systems, but that we start to put the user at the center of what we do. The goal is no longer mobile marketing, but a seamless multi-device and multi-channel strategy.

This new understanding of mobile should convince advertisers to take this opportunity seriously because so far the advertising investments don’t nearly reflect the strong growth in mobile usage. The good news is that the step from desktop to mobile is not as big as you might think. Thanks to device-agnostic HTML5 technology, ads can reach almost every device, browser and operating system, including apps and Apple iOS. This means that you can easily mirror your tried and tested strategies for desktop to mobile inventory. 

Be a Pioneer

Nevertheless, mobile is still a relatively new environment for advertisers. “Online marketing means a lot of uncertainty and is very complex,” admitted Olmert from PlayBuzz. This doesn’t change the fact that advertisers miss out on the opportunities. This topic gets Vaynerchuk going: “The opening moments are the most valuable ones, then it reaches a critical mass, then the competition comes, and then it’s the same old story.”

He speaks from experience, from the time when he spent many nights trying to figure out the chances and opportunities of Facebook’s Socialcam, only to see the topic die shortly after. But then Vine came to the market, and Vaynerchuk was one step ahead of everyone else. “The winners are not afraid of the risk,” he concluded, demanding more pioneer-thinking and risk-taking. “Everyone in this room underestimates the power of the Internet. It has just begun, Facebook and Twitter haven’t won.” Now read that sentence again in a super hero voice. Yes, this is Vaynerchuk on stage.

His first-mover mentality should inspire advertisers to tackle the opportunities offered by mobile devices. The inventory is still affordable and the competition small, so take advantage of the potential.

Rock On!

User-centric online marketing, data, multi-channel, multi-device – these are the big topics Advertisers need to tackle in 2015. The good news: the conversations are no longer about channels or platforms, but about the consumer and his needs. Our industry has understood that the user has to be at the center of online marketing, not the channel or the device. “Tomorrow’s Online Marketing Rockstars treat every customer like their biggest fan,” says Müller.