The evolution of Dmexco into a one-stop shop for global digital marketers
A view from Stuart Flint

The evolution of Dmexco into a one-stop shop for global digital marketers

Transparency, technology and content will be among the key themes of this year's Dmexco conference, writes Oath's EMEA vice-president.

With September upon us, the great and the good of the marketing world will shortly be descending on Cologne.

Last year, more than 50,000 delegates packed the Koelnmesse, with those attending travelling far and wide from across the globe. Moreover, the level of participants on stage was a sign of its arrival onto the global conference circuit alongside Mobile World Congress, Cannes Lions and the Consumer Electronics Show.

Ultimately, marketers should now see Dmexco as the place to view the latest technologies driving innovation in our ever changing fast-paced world.

This pace has always been there but every year you can feel the accelerator hitting the floor just a little bit harder.  

Since Dmexco came to be in 2009, there’s no denying much has changed in the world of marketing and advertising. Consumers are spending more time on the internet and on a greater variety of devices. At the same time, new formats such as branded video and native have taken hold and technology has become more automated, leading to even greater competition in the digital space. Every major publisher is now selling a good chunk of their inventory programmatically, working with a multitude of vendors who have entered the space selling the latest must have solutions and tools.

With so many technologies and so many vendors it’s no wonder that there have been numerous high profile mergers and acquisitions as well as a running theme in the industry around consolidation – something that I am sure will be prevalent throughout this year’s conference as more and more companies take a slice of the advertising pie or strudel! From consulting and tech firms buying up platforms and agencies, media and creative agencies expanding their remits to try and be "one stop shops", to brands bringing more data and buying capabilities in-house.

Simultaneously, Dmexco has grown from a conference for those pushing programmatic advertising solutions to one which now unites technology and media, showcasing innovation and creativity. The conference now rightly attracts C-suite executives from some of the world’s best known brands. For instance this year, The New York Times’ chief executive, Mark Thompson, will be in conversation with OMD chief executive Mainardo de Nardis discussing the digital transformation of the media industry, the way of The Times, and how it is competing in this new world order in the face of a challenging environment in both publishing and politics.

What is clear though is that delivering meaningful results in this complex and sometimes confusing landscape has become the holy grail for everyone, big or small. With the rise in programmatic, and a rather bruising year for digital media and advertising overall, there is a continued drive to clean up digital advertising and offer brands more transparency and simplicity. I’m looking forward to seeing Procter & Gamble’s chief brand officer Marc Pritchard sharing a transformational roadmap for brand building through digital technology.

The bar has never been set higher on the need for more transparency, better creativity, better innovation, all fueled by partnership and productivity to drive growth and value creation. In a similar vein, our president of platforms Tim Mahlman will be on stage talking about the digital advertising supply chain revolution.

Ultimately, advertisers want safe environments for their brands and the entire digital ecosystem must deliver on this to win hearts and minds of consumers and budgets from advertisers. That being said, the industry is very much aware of its pain points  and is evolving quickly to build greater trust with buyers, expand transparency and ensure brand-safe impressions through better tools and methods.

With GDPR fast approaching, it’s fair to predict that data will be a hot topic over the two days. The IAB, for instance, will be hosting a privacy debate on how to embrace the new world order from 25 May. In my opinion, GDPR shouldn’t be viewed negatively, instead by making consumers opt-in, marketers have an opportunity to build greater brand trust. Once you’ve got consumer consent, you’ll be able to show how much you understand your customers by serving them more relevant information at the right time and through the right channel. By building trust, marketers can achieve greater retention rates, improved analytics and increased ROI.

However, it doesn’t matter which touchpoint you are looking at, content is arguably the most important component of the entire customer experience. And with this, I expect to see lots of interesting debates around programmatic, data and creativity.  For me, it is not about one or the other. It is about fusing both; automation essentially helps brands to personalise consumer engagement by making content more relevant and timely.

In the past, we would expect big brands to spread their stories with expensive TV spots that would in theory reach millions of people. But in today’s always-on digital world brand building needs to be done differently. Consumers demand more relevant and deeper connections. Marketers therefore need to harness new technology platforms with smart data to create powerful and creative storytelling that resonates with consumers. This is something our chief revenue officer John DeVine will be discussing on stage with the likes of Visa and Spotify.  

There’s no denying technology is advancing at lightning speed and Dmexco’s growth over the years reflects that. With emerging technology from VR to AI and distribution from 5G to the Internet of Things, people are changing the way they consume media, and marketers need to stay ahead of the curve and take a good look at what’s coming next. So roll on Dmexco, there’s much debate to be had as we enter the next phase of digital marketing.

Stuart Flint is vice-president EMEA at Oath