Last week a staggering 70,000 people gathered in Hamburg at OMR or Online Marketing Rockstars.

Following an absence of 3 years, the event was back with a vengeance. Although definitely catering to the German market, OMR now has a decidedly European flavour with whispers of it ‘becoming the new Dmexco’ floating around the gargantuan halls of the Hamburg Messe.

It’s very much promoted as a festival, not a trade fair, and lives up to that reputation with street food, live music and thumping tunes coming from every stand from about 4pm onwards, bringing a great early evening atmosphere. During the day, option paralysis sets in as you scroll through the enormous list of workshops, masterclasses, guided tours etc. It’s almost too much – but there’s definitely something for everyone.

So what was hot? Here’s our take on some of the trends that had the digital glitterati chomping at the bit.

Be human!

With the last two years of lockdown behind us, everyone’s acknowledging that the world has changed. NYU Stern School’s Professor of Marketing and Entrepreneur, Scott Galloway talked about the rise of empathy over the last 2 years. People care about people and want brands to interact with them as if they were their friends. WOM Protocol revealed that 71% of Gen Z consumers want brands to be more approachable. And they expect them to take a stand on important issues and put their money where their mouth is when it comes to sustainability.

Moving with the zeitgeist, we took to the stage with our tech partner, Adobe, to advocate for more human interaction between brands and their customers. Walking the audience through our work for Ford of Europe, we showed how brands can use the Adobe Experience Cloud, stitching up customer data for that all important single customer view, to drive sales and growth by engaging customers at that human level.

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Mobility

The Future Moves stage was the epicentre of all things mobility. Sustainability inevitably was the driving force behind much of the conversation. Panels debated concepts like the ‘super app’, an app that would aggregate access to every mobility provider, from vehicle sharing to public transport; the future of motorsport and whether it is an industry that really can be transformed; the future of the car purchase and whether we’ll actually be buying cars at all; and how companies like Van Moof are trailblazing the path to make cycling the default mode of city transport.

And all of that without any real focus on the car itself. Is the car set to follow the handset in transforming into an all things to everyone device. There was much talk of the value of the data that a car potentially holds and the opportunities for brands that could tap into that. And the car as payment system? Imagine the ultimate frictionless drive-through experience, where your car simply pays for your coffee by default.

Conversational commerce

And building on the burning desire for the ever more frictionless experience, conversational commerce was also pretty high on the OMR agenda. In short, conversational commerce has the power to take brands closer to their consumers by, yes, you guessed it, having a good old-fashioned conversation. Using a blend of live chat, chatbots, messaging apps and voice assistants, forward-thinking retailers and brands are realising the benefits of an immediate conversation by reducing cart abandonment increasing cross-sell and up-sell, and driving loyalty.

Fintech

The Finance Forward stage hosted disruptors and game changers exploring everything from crypto to neobanks and neobroking. Disseminating fad from the future of finance, fintech leaders talked about when and how crypto will become mainstream; emerging embedded finance models that are seeing retailers launching bank accounts and delivery platforms lending; a new breed of startup in business banking; and the transformation of payment platforms into strategic growth partners.

Metaverse and Web 3

For those still struggling to get their heads around whether the metaverse and web 3 are one and same, OMR provided a great platform to learn more about both.

For technologists, there was plenty of talk of blockchain and other technologies that are the building blocks of the decentralised, democratic internet of the future (basically Web 3). And, perhaps more for the marketers, there were some great sessions around the future of storytelling and engagement in the metaverse, essentially the internet but 3D, where early-adopting brands are already engaging customers in new immersive environments and virtual worlds.

NFTs

With so much hype around NFT collections, such as Cryptopunks and Bored Ape Yacht Club, that have now reached stratospheric (and frankly unrealistic value), brands are starting to dip their toes into the NFT phenomenen, particularly when it comes to loyalty schemes and engaging customers with exclusive benefits. Avery Akkineni of Vayner NFT, whose clients include Budweiser and Pepsi, shed light on what brands need to know about NFTs.

And it was hard to miss the arresting collection of NFTs in the main exhibition hall. From the weird to the wonderful from Misa.art.

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