DMEXCO, the annual event bringing together key players in digital business, marketing, and innovation, returned this year after a brief pandemic-induced break. In this article, Sergii Denysenko, chief executive officer, MGID Global, shares key takeaways from the recently concluded DMEXCO 2022.

After a pandemic-driven hiatus, DMEXCO returned to Cologne this year, bringing together leading marketing and tech insiders to discuss key industry trends.

The event hosts seminars, debates and masterclasses from hundreds of speakers, providing valuable insights into the latest digital innovations, tech solutions and important considerations for the industry’s future success. Here are some of the key talking points from the event, covered via talks and workshops as well as in conversations we had on the ground.

Cookie Deprecation And User Privacy

Google’s recent decision to delay the deprecation of third-party cookies hasn’t reduced the urgency for advertisers to find privacy-compliant targeting solutions. Considering alternative options sooner rather than later allows for early testing and a more efficient transition when the cookie finally crumbles. Many speakers referred to European regulators taking a firmer stance on ad tech, emphasizing the urgency of strengthening data privacy practices going forwards.

Potential alternatives were discussed at length at DMEXCO. While many solutions still need to be tested, greater collaboration within the industry will be key to ensuring advertising objectives are met while protecting users’ personal information.

Seller Defined Audiences

Within these conversations were questions about how to orchestrate privacy-compliant identifiers (IDs) to optimize media spend and drive cross-channel performance. On the sell side, talks centered around how publishers can maintain a value exchange for consumers; specifically, how they can deliver quality, relevant advertising in return for premium content and, in turn, maximize their revenue without compromising user privacy.

The IAB Tech Lab’s Seller Defined Audiences (SDAs), which aims to democratize audience cohort development for the open web, cropped up throughout the event as a mutually beneficial solution. This fully privacy-compliant initiative relies on first-party data that can be scaled safely and responsibly; data is kept exactly where it is created with no risk of leakage. It provides a unified industry standard based on the IAB Tech Lab’s content and audience taxonomies: publishers identify user characteristics based on their behaviors and interests and match them to the IAB Tech Lab’s standardized taxonomy IDs, which can then be relayed to advertisers — all without personally identifying consumers.

This increases transparency between the buy and sell sides, keeping everyone on the same page with the same audience classifications to optimize anonymized ID creation and targeting. Moreover, it helps publishers better monetize their inventory by offering advertisers compelling, data-enriched placements for improved targeting.

Brand safety

Consumer data protection isn’t just required from a legislative perspective — it’s also the ‘right thing’ for brands and publishers to do; demonstrating they’re behaving responsibly while also protecting their reputations. This is becoming increasingly important in the Wild West of the digital world; the timely topic of brand safety featured in many conversations in Cologne.

Many brands, for example, were reluctant to advertise at the FIFA World Cup in Qatar due to the host country’s human rights record, showing the growing consciousness of negative associations and eagerness to avoid them. Moreover, Applebee’s “dancing cowboy” faux pas appearing alongside CNN’s Ukraine war footage highlights how poor timing can have a devastating effect on brand reputation, even on seemingly safe sites.

At DMEXCO, contextual targeting was touted as a means of tackling such challenges. Contextual intelligence is a key component of this, helping brands effectively monitor their placements to ensure they are funding quality journalism. With contextual targeting based on the content being consumed, rather than the person reading it, user information is fully protected, and consumers receive ads that are relevant to their interests, fostering positive relationships between them and brands — and improving the overall user experience.

Greater collaboration within the industry is essential for maintaining rigorous brand safety practices; not only should brands and publishers themselves uphold strong ethical standards, but they should also call out bad actors and increase conversations around the topic to promote transparency and best practice.

Recessionary And Environmental Pressures

The need for accurate targeting and responsible placements is especially urgent in the current economic climate — an unavoidable topic in Cologne. With recession fears sparking budget cut predictions, brands are under more pressure than ever to prove the value of their media spend.

Commentators at DMEXCO stressed the need for brands to focus on performance; rather than restricting budgets, speakers debated directing spend to the most valuable channels to drive greater returns. This, of course, depends on robust targeting and measurement strategies, further emphasizing the need for brands to have solid solutions in place to maximize ROI even in the most testing of times.

As the climate crisis worsens, it’s not just the financial situation testing advertisers, or indeed the world at large. The disruptions from environmental activists at the Cannes Lions festival earlier this year amplified conversations around how the advertising industry can be more environmentally responsible. At DMEXCO, business leaders spoke about improving eco-friendly practices internally, as well as the need to phase out fossil fuel partnerships and to avoid funding climate misinformation. The bottom line was that more data is needed for companies to be able to reduce their overall carbon footprints and to apply this to their campaigns as well.

While discussions at this year’s DMEXCO highlighted the many challenges the industry is facing, it was uplifting to participate in so many insightful conversations and to witness the valuable solutions we have at our disposal. From SDAs to contextual targeting, both the buy and sell sides have the means to improve addressability and monetization — the key is collaboration. The industry must take action sooner rather than later, and work together, to increase data and measurement capacity to weather the storm of economic and environmental uncertainty.

(As published on SPICEWORKS)