Digiconomy: The analogue scream for attention...
Digiconomy: The analogue scream for attention...
The digital economy is booming with no end in sight. Taking place in Cologne in September, this year’s dmexco once again provided an impressive snapshot of the powerful digital economy. It’s become almost automatic: ever-more exhibitors and visitor, superlatives of a superabundant digital culture. It’s all about bits and bytes – or is it? Not quite! Because there’s still that analogue scream for attention…
No doubt: if you’re trying to separate the substantial from the trivial in the digital world’s jungle of trends and hypes, there’s almost no way around visiting dmexco. Internet of Things, CRM, data protection, ad fraud and ad blockers, blockchain, content marketing and virtual reality. And so on.
A get-together of the giants of the Internet with countless smaller players, service providers and startups whirling about: two days akin to a digital carnival, orchestrated by hundreds of speakers, workshops and demonstrations. Luckily, guided tours were offered to help first-time visitors find their way.
There were spats, too – the digiconomy is no petting zoo. German exhibitors, for example, complained about the seemingly overwhelming superiority of the international exhibitors. So what? Silicon Valley is the digital cradle of humanity – that’s just the way it is. Serving by design as an international hub, dmexco is definitely an event with credibility.
The numbers speak for themselves: approximately 40,700 trade visitors met about 1,100 exhibitors from 39 countries; more than 570 international speakers offered know-how and input. Growth on every level. More exhibition floor space – again. Massive crowds on both days. So business as usual? Not really!
Expensive trade show terrain
With exhibitor numbers on the rise and new space being created even while the selection of coveted stand spots and halls is unchanged, increasing exhibitor frustration is inevitable. Plus, all the stands look consistently similar, except for those of the big players.
The uniformity of stands reflects the fact that the products are not tangible. Whether it’s software or service, if you can’t get visitors to your stand to explain your product, you’ll come away empty-handed. And for that to be the outcome, dmexco’s square metre prices are simply too steep.
The players at dmexco have discovered the world of promotional products
The pushing and shoving among exhibitors and visitors alike did bring about some fresh ideas. “Finally!”, promotional products professionals might exclaim, breathing a sigh of relief: the players at dmexco have discovered the world of promotional products. Desperate not to simply be overlooked – forget about being remembered – the exhibitors nosedived nearly collectively into a scream for attention.
We’d already seen the cautious beginnings last year: joining the long-established carrying bags were more and more flyers and folders, plus the occasional branded snacks and water bottles, the first jute bags and some timidly scattered T-shirts.
Haptic quantum leap
This year’s dmexco didn’t have anything in common with those rather homoeopathically dosed promotional products scenarios. But considering the high-gloss printed info materials and the promotional products deployed, we can speak without exaggeration of a haptic quantum leap.
The digiconomy is getting it! Without tangible information sharing, nothing goes – or at least not much. Differentiation encompasses touchability and – in the case of giveaways – utility.
Pens and notebooks
The existence in overflowing abundance of branded pens, notebooks and sticky notes in the universe of the cloud and digital transfers, of screens and keyboards, was nothing less than mind-boggling. Even the digital natives obviously still (or again?) like to write by hand.
The exhibition stand of today doesn’t seem to be complete without branded snacks and promotional sweets. The selection of jute bags, flanked by caps and T-shirts, has increased exponentially. Lighters (some with integrated bottle openers) were seen, as were fidget spinners, balls and Lufthansa-branded rubber ducks.
Lots of room for improvement in the strategic deployment of promotional products
Considering the strategic use of promotional products, all this is not much more than the first step, which naturally means there’s lots of room for improvement. Many items appeared stitched together in in-house meeting rooms, probably ordered online, with vastly differing quality levels – from junk to rock-solid, high-quality, appealing haptic products.
Original giveaways, like small bottles of hand sanitiser (not a bad chess move when you have 40,000 mouse-clicking, keyboard-hacking digital nerds in front of fingerprint-filled touchscreens and behind similarly smudged VR headsets) remained the exception.
Lack of consultant expertise behind the scenes
Also perplexing: industry-related promotional products such as USB sticks, charger cables, power banks and touch pens were just as rare. That, too, is a sign indicating a lack of consultant know-how behind the scenes.
And the moral of the story? At least from the perspective of a promotional products consultant? First: The digital economy represents a wide-open field for the deployment of promotional products. It’s basically screaming for haptic differentiation of its products and services – and surely not just for trade show purposes.
Second: A little bit of an idea what my new potential customers are doing and especially what drives them won’t hurt. Because they already know how to do pens and notebooks on their own.