Good packaging whets appetite for the content

OMD drew a record number of visitors. That was not only due to the boom in digital marketing but also to the trade fair concept that made the pavilions a meeting place for the cyber community.

The OMD organisers took a risk two years ago when they left the snug atmosphere of the Rheinterassen in Düsseldorf to expose their exhibitors from the hip and creative online sector to the cold light of Messe Düsseldorf's functional halls. Despite growing visitor figures, not all trade fairs have benefited from a move to larger premises. Take DIMA for instance. After a move to the same Düsseldorf pavilions, visitors and exhibitors of the now defunct direct marketing trade fair bemoaned the loss of the cosy ambiance of the old site in Wiesbaden and missed the Rhein-Main-Hallen venue. It used to bring exhibitors and visitors into close contact and catalyse business deals.
The challenge for the organisers of OMD, Igedo Company from Düsseldorf, was therefore to find a framework for their trade fair that would make it a premier event in the sector and a must-attend date in the calendar. This requires a certain quality of exhibitors and visitors but, of course, also a suitable environment that provides an atmosphere in which everyone can feel comfortable and enjoy working.
And they seem to have found it. The two halls of the trade fair hosted over 6500 visitors and 180 exhibitors on the two days of the event at the end of September. Hall 1 was for the big names of the sector, such as Google Germany, Deutsche Post AG and Tomorrow Focus AG, whose significance on the market was reflected by the size of their stands. This did not result in any disadvantage for smaller exhibitors, which is a sign of a successful concept. Thanks to ingenious stand design, smaller companies were able to present themselves in Hall 2 without being noticeably upstaged by the major exhibitors in terms of quality.
"You can't just cobble together an appearance like that," says Frank Schneider, Director Marketing & Communication of Igedo Company, Düsseldorf, and also responsible for OMD. "The concept for hall design is initially intended for three years. We got it started with the move in 2005 and now it is beginning to pay off."
The key question was: "How can we retain the ambiance of the Rheinterassen and create a community feeling in the trade fair halls, too?" The trade fair organisers took advice from Magic-Media, a scenery building specialist from Cologne. "They have their ear to the market and know what works", says Schneider. The result was a complete tradeshow landscape in a single design. Daylight was shut out. That made it possible to use a light concept specially designed for the fair. The colour green, OMD's trademark, was reflected in the many design elements. The carpet in the aisles, limited to a width of 3 m, was also green. The same colour, which symbolises hope, was to be found in the design elements of the central plaza, which turned out to be a popular meeting place. Green columns were design elements in the conference area, which was integrated into the trade fair halls. Other colour designs provided variety for the eye. Cross-beams suspended from the ceiling and rigged with fabric were used as projection surfaces.
They served both to conceal the uninviting height of the halls and to mount spotlights to light the aisles. That was all the lighting that the organisers provided. Light mainly came from the exhibitors stands. To remove financial impediments to good ideas, parts of the design concept are used at other Igedo trade fairs. "If we use individual elements in our fashion shows, there is no overlap in the concept" is how the marketing manager explains the multiple use.
It was an impressive show that demonstrates how organisers with good ideas and a service mentality can rise from being square metre merchants to masters of ceremonies for sector events. This development boosts customer loyalty, an aspect that can't be tackled too soon in the booming online marketing business.
After all, the development of the sector is equally impressive. For this year, the Circle of Online Marketers (OVK) in the German Federal Association for the Digital Economy (BVDW) forecasts an online advertising turnover of EUR 1.65 billion - up by about 60 % over the previous year. This includes an estimated EUR 710 million for search engine marketing alone, which is the online marketing segment that boasts the most vigorous growth with a gain of 80%. Planning in Düsseldorf is keeping pace with this development. Ellen Faust, project manager at OMD, reported at the trade fair press conference: "In 2007, we will meet the sector's demand for more square metrage, but retain the proven overall concept. We will integrate new areas of digital marketing, such as IP-TV, mobile TV or advertising in podcasts proportionally to their importance on the market." Schneider also announced that OMD will further internationalise its successful concept as from next year: "We are already talking to several European markets that are demonstrating great interest in OMD. It has potential as a reference fair for digital marketing even beyond Germany's borders."
OMD was awarded top marks by visitors and exhibitors alike. "The format and duration of the trade fair make sense. There is a lot going on there." was how Stefan Frohnhoff, managing director of the exhibitor Premiere Global Services, Unterhaching, praised the event. Moreover, the return to the trade fair halls has been a success and there are high-quality contacts with visitors.
Trade fair market research conducted by Claus Bühs Consulting (CBC) also showed that 83% of visitors see OMD as the most important information platform for digital marketing. On a scale of 1 (best) to 6 (worst), the exhibitor attendance was graded 1.6. Well 62 % stated they had made contact with specific exhibitors during the trade fair. The combined conference and trade fair is continuously developing into an international platform with a great potential: 43% of visitors would like to see more foreign exhibitors. One in three would also like to see more international contributions in the conference and workshops of OMD.

m+a report Nr.7 / 2006 vom 27.10.2006
m+a report vom 27. Oktober 2006