Last week saw the return of leading digital marketing and technology event DMEXCO to Koln in Germany.
Industry leaders relished at being able to meet in real life once again, after the global pandemic shuttered the live event for the past two years.
So we caught up with some of our favourite industry leading lights to get their take on how it felt to be back at DMEXCO and what issues they were top of their minds during the event…
Morika Georgieva, Customer Success Manager for EMEA at Permutive
“I was excited to attend DMEXCO this year for a variety of reasons. Firstly, and most obviously, it has been great to reunite with so many of our colleagues and customers from across the globe.
“The work we do here goes beyond sales, with discussions taking place at this conference offering us the chance to connect with others who have similar interests and goals.
“The advertising industry has evolved dramatically in the past few years, and in that time we’ve learned a huge amount about how to best monetise audiences in an evolving market.
“This goes beyond economic developments, to the industry focus on user privacy and respect.
“Recent research indicates that 75% of consumers are no longer comfortable purchasing from brands that don’t commit to respecting their data privacy.
“This means that increasingly, consumers are opting out of advertising, whether it’s through cookie-blocked environments, Apple’s ATT or Chrome’s “reject all” cookies button in Europe.
“In order to succeed, the adtech industry must work together to reflect consumer sentiment and empower advertisers and publishers to prioritise privacy while also ensuring that they make money and grow as part of this advertising ecosystem.
“DMEXCO provides the industry with a chance to discuss this, and I’m thrilled to have been here to both learn and contribute.”
Matthew Beck, VP of Partnerships, Nano Interactive
“After such a long wait, it was great to be back at DMEXCO this year in person.
“One particularly pertinent topic surrounded the disparity between the efforts being put into CTV by streaming platforms and the programmatic revenue they are seeing from this.
“There are many reasons for this including technical challenges slowing the implementation process, and buyer and seller knowledge gaps, so it will be interesting to see how much this will have changed in a year’s time.
“Data clean rooms and identity solutions were another hot topic, which is unsurprising given the upcoming deprecation of third-party cookies.
“Ultimately, in the months ahead, marketers should be looking for innovative ways to reach new audiences without using their personal data.
“One example would be intent targeting, that allows brands to reach consumers while they are actively researching relevant topics, in a privacy compliant way.”
Charlie Brookes, Director of Revenue at Octave Audio “There was a good cross section of audio specific companies alongside the many stalwarts of digital marketing at Dmexco this year.
“The overarching theme of the conversations centred around advancements in data and audio ad technology, and on the specific challenges and opportunities that this unique medium presents.
“It was interesting to see that an increasing number of established ad tech and data companies are now focusing on evolving their product suite in audio.
“This complements the specific audio players who continue to evolve their products to reflect the growing market space.
“Dmexco offers a great opportunity for reflection and long-term planning discussions and provides a refreshing chance to step away from the fast-paced day-to-day of being involved in a growing market space.”
Caroline Hugonenc, SVP, Research & Insights at Teads
“Returning to Dmexco after three years has given me this great feeling that life is finally returning to normal.
“It differently felt like a transitional year at the conference, helping us to gently readapt ourselves to big trade events.
“The conference itself wasn’t as big as it used to be, which wasn’t such a bad thing – after years of working from home anything more would have perhaps been overwhelming.
“Still, it was noticeable that the big German broadcasters and media groups, as well as some of the big social platforms such as META and TikTok were missing.
“We are definitely seeing the evolution towards a greater consciousness of our environment, social impact and the necessity to take action.
“For example, Tina Beuchler, Global Head of Media and Partnerships at Nestle explained how they were integrating measurement and optimisation of their carbon footprint as an advertiser.
“Of course, the deprecation of third-party cookies and suitable replacements was another big topic of conversation at Dmexco this year, with industry players showing confidence in a future without third-party data.
“Lastly, attention seemed very much the topic of focus. From presentations on the Ecology of Attention, to the release of new research and interactive games to capture the attention of visitors.”
Harry Williams, Senior Marketing Manager, A Million Ads
“Whilst this was my first trip over to Cologne, colleagues, clients and partners commented on how it was much smaller than previous years, with a lot more sessions dedicated to German speaking companies.
“It will be interesting to see if this will be the case again next year.
“Understandably, there continues to be a lot of talk about the impact of switching to a cookieless future. The current front runner seems to be that advertisers will turn to first party data when possible and contextual advertising when not.
“For audio, it’s unlikely that there will be a change in the way that we advertise, given the fact that digital audio doesn’t rely on cookies at all.
“However if contextual advertising becomes more prevalent across other channels and receives more focus from advertisers, it is only natural that there will be a renewed interest in digital audio context as well.
“With that, we should expect to see further innovation across audio and, as a result, the industry will continue to follow the growth trajectory that it’s on.
“In my opinion, companies that can overlay audience data with digital audio products, such as Octave, could play a big part in this future.
“In turn this will enable brands to use dynamic audio in smarter ways that are more subtle and relevant for their listeners, such as dynamically serving ads to listeners based on their interests.”
Andrzej Surkont, Director of Global Inventory Partnerships, [RTB House]
“This year’s DMEXCO was well attended and an opportunity to meet and network with leaders from across the industry.
“Unsurprisingly, Google’s delay to the deprecation of third party cookies was a hot topic and we were thrilled that RTB House was listed as a contributor and tester of the Privacy Sandbox solution by Google Chrome executives.
“It was particularly great to hear more about a variety of emerging topics such as frequency capping in the cookieless world and ad measurement solutions.
“Indeed, we had various meetings with measurement tech providers to discuss how to measure key parameters in branding campaigns, such as viewability and VCR (Video Completion Rate).
“We believe both of those metrics will be imperative KPIs for marketers delivering branding campaigns and ensuring that the ads are viewed by the desired audience.
Nora Schwab, Director, Publisher Development UK, LiveRamp
“DMEXCO was once again a great chance to meet with familiar faces across the EMEA publisher landscape. Alongside excitement around the Metaverse and Web 3.0, identity continued to be a dominant topic of conversation.
“Following the ICO recommendations from this past spring to provide an “accept all” and “reject all” button on the same layer in the consent management platform (CMP), some publishers were concerned their ability to leverage sign-ins would soon be diminished.
“Many of my conversations were therefore made up of showing publishers the ways in which they can create and optimise the value exchange with their users.”
“The key to providing this incentive is through publishers developing stronger relationships with their audiences.
“Ultimately, deep customer relationships are crucial in this privacy-first future, making first-party, addressable solutions which can enable these trust-based relationships paramount for publishers looking to thrive without third-party identifiers.”
James Leaver, CEO, multilocal
Last week in Cologne, there was much discussion around efficiency, effectiveness and measurement. We’ve been focused for some time now on ways to simplify the digital landscape, in order to turbocharge impact.
“For too long, there has been too much waste in the media industry – sometimes caused by geographical barriers, and at others by unnecessarily complex internal processes.
“It’s great to see technology coming into play to help here – not only when it comes to programmatic, but also in terms of leveraging AI and machine learning when it comes to other forms of communication in a soon to be cookieless world.
It was also fantastic to see the event back in person following a three-year hiatus.
“This efficiency message was even more important, too, when faced with a backdrop of potential budget cuts and uncertainty; not to mention rises in energy bills and increased focus on sustainability.
To manage all this, the orchestration of a cross-channel strategy requires at least some elements of automation – whilst always keeping front of mind the need for engagement and true immersion in ad experiences.
“For many, removing organisational silos remains a barrier, but by embracing the latest solutions and technological advances what may seem an impossibility is indeed eminently possible. What a week!
Andy Ashley, Global Marketing Director, SmartFrame
“The current landscape is a very dynamic one: with so many shifts relating to cookies, privacy, inflation, and sustainability, leaders are facing a multitude of challenges to address all at once.
“However, with this change comes an opportunity for exploration in which we can improve the structures within the industry that do not serve everyone. Image streaming is part of this innovation, serving publishers, advertisers, and content creators alike.
“By enhancing both the quality of images as well as their protection, image streaming boosts contextual precision while at the same time guaranteeing brand safety, and has the potential to build a much fairer and more transparent media ecosystem going forward.”
Stefanie Briec, Director, Head of Demand Sales UK & International AudienceXpress at FreeWheel
“One of the talking points at the event was how brands are looking for privacy-centric ways to deepen their connections with audiences.
“Advanced contextual advertising, for example, can ensure precise targeting not just at keyword level but topic level as well.
“Semantic analysis allows brands to extend their reach through subject categories that are relevant to their audience while still preserving end user privacy and from the advertiser’s perspective ensuring brand suitability.
“Context still has an important part to play in ad campaigns, however. By overlaying keywords and topics, it’s possible to boost relevance while also achieving scale.
“Through real-time campaign measurement and reporting brands can quickly create messages around specific content verticals, topics and events, putting them at the forefront of trends that their audience really care about.”
Marc Irwin, Northern Europe Sales Director, Digital Envoy
“Companies are increasingly focusing on quality and demanding more from their ad partners.
“They want – and need – a future-proof solution to understanding their audience. As budgets are scrutinised, solutions that deliver on multiple objectives are crucial for marketers.
“Whether prioritising consumer experience or privacy, brands cannot succeed without detailed insights (such as those provided by IP intelligence) which help refine localised content and advertising while staying on the right side of privacy laws.”
Sergii Denysenko, CEO at MGID
“Although smaller than pre-pandemic, this year was very focused and people were there to do business. As expected, how to strengthen data privacy as the European regulators take a firmer handle on adtech was a key topic.
“Debates on the future of ad targeting and measurement looked at how to orchestrate different IDs to optimise media spend and drive performance across channels, as well as the role of contextual.
“In publisher discussions the focus was on how to continue to drive revenue by ensuring a consumer value exchange of relevant, privacy compliant advertising for access to premium content.
“Seller-defined audiences and their ability to scale first-party data in a privacy-compliant way were also a part of the discussion.
“Sustainability in digital advertising was a new theme that reflects the industry’s increased focus on the issue.”
Elliot Hill, CMO, VeraViews
“The importance of boosting trust and value for all in challenging times was a recurring theme at flagship ad tech event, DMEXCO, – through productive partnerships, and cutting-edge technologies which boost transparency and accountability.
“At a time when ad fraud remains a problem, clouds over the economy must not blind us to the issues in our own backyard.
“After all, ad fraud skews the performance metrics of campaigns, dramatically increasing waste and inefficiency at a time we can least afford it.
“It causes advertisers to lose money, publishers to lose credibility and stunts the growth of the advertising industry.
“It was also pleasing to see the power of privacy-first and contextual targeting coming up time and again, alongside discussion around the power and relevance of real-time data as we witness the continued reinvention of retail in our increasingly circular economy.
“All this requires a range of technologies.
“Meanwhile, new extended or hybrid realities and the so-called metaverse calls for meaningful innovation from platforms, from publishers and from brands –and, to this end, courage and creativity is needed.
“With tech pioneers out in their droves in Cologne, it was a pleasure to help set the digital agenda, alongside a side order of Kölsh, pretzels and currywurst and against the stunning backdrop of Cologne cathedral.
Svenja Damzog, Country Manager DACH, Adnami
“It’s been a jam-packed couple of days and the importance of positivity, creativity, efficiency and resilience has never been clearer.
“It is possible to create astonishing ad experiences for consumers and accelerated returns for publishers and brands but attention-grabbing and impactful campaigns require a recognition of the changing customer journey, the need for impactful storytelling, and the latest technologies.
“Again this year it was inspiring to see how our industry continues to challenge the status quo and to be innovative – especially as businesses brace for a downturn.
“We need to rid ourselves of cluttered ads and push out the frontier of what’s possible with intelligent, scalable creative, courage and creativity.
“There was a recognition in Cologne this week of the need to be proactive, to get digital marketing efforts up to speed ahead of the holiday season and in a world which never stands still.
“With emerging technologies on display and talk of the metaverse across a number of sessions and masterclasses, the enormous shift in brand communication in today’s increasingly digital world was clear for all to see.
Anders Rasmussen, CRO, Passendo
“It was fantastic to learn and to share insights from an industry which never stays still, with the recurring motto #WeProgressTogether.
“The last time ad tech professionals from around the world convened here, the death of the third-party cookie seemed unthinkable.
“It just goes to show that this industry needs to prepare for the unexpected, to continue to show resilience and creativity in the face of change and challenge.
Faced with rising costs, supply chain issues and ongoing uncertainty, all players need to double down on efficiency and effectiveness.
“And it was a pleasure to hear from publishers, who have long struggled with monetisation, but who are now identifying solutions to help them to generate growth by tapping into valuable audiences and first party data to unlock new and exciting opportunities.
“After all, innovative solutions are needed today more than ever. This does not need to mean new channels, or even new formats, but often more efficient ways of managing tried and trusted means of communication.
“Today, more than ever, consumers are in control. Advertisers must be transparent, enabling the audience to control the interaction, showing empathy and respect and bringing humanity to our digital lives.
“This is something that comes up again and again. With new channels and technologies presenting opportunities, the collaboration, conversation and connections made this week will have led to new paths towards success.
Florian Gramshammer, Managing Director EMEA, impact.com
“There’s a lot of excitement around this year’s DMEXCO. Yet, the mood will almost certainly be more sombre given the many challenges now facing marketers and businesses, as we weather uncertain times.
“A few years back, GDPR was regarded as a marketing armageddon. Yet, fast forward to 2022 and many additional challenges have since materialised including a global pandemic, war in Europe, macroeconomic conditions, and affecting advertisers specifically in the industry – the inevitable cookieless future.
“Although our industry is not immune to the challenges facing businesses across Europe, we are in a position to successfully navigate them by continuing to focus on providing innovative ad technology.
“And so, as this dynamic community meets up, bringing together key players in digital business, marketing, and innovation, it is these media professionals and tech pioneers who can help to set the digital agenda at a time when knowledge sharing, collaboration and partnership are more important than ever.
“The seminars, workshops, and debates will be brimming with ideas on how to advance the digital economy and drive value – and ultimately much-needed growth. New technologies can help us to automate, scale, and tap into future potential.
“Despite ongoing challenges, technology continues to move on at pace, and the winners will be those who keep one step ahead of the progress.
“While there may be a more serious mood this year, critical conversations will be had and new deals and partnerships will be cemented as together change-makers passionate about creativity and innovation come together to find solutions to some of the world’s most pressing challenges at DMEXCO.
Peter Wallace, General Manager, EMEA, GumGum
“There are two sides to DMEXCO this year; the challenges we face today and the future of the industry.
“The key challenges we’re facing currently are being driven primarily by macro economic factors across the globe – factors which have impacted the industry significantly already and which remain a cause for concern.
“Look out for advertisers keen to tackle this in DMEXCO by exploring solutions which offer risk-free buying that can guide them through these ongoing challenges by driving better business outcomes.
“For instance, contextual technologies are going to be placed centrally across DMEXCO as a way in which advertisers will tackle these uncertain times by delivering scale and better results in a privacy-forward world.
“The future-gazing element of DMEXCO should be met with bags of energy and enthusiasm. By way of example, since we last gathered in Cologne, the more practical emergence and application of CTV and in-game advertising has been clear.
“Meanwhile, the conversation around the Metaverse only becomes louder and louder.
“So, expect emerging platforms to be the talk of the town; driving real interest and positivity around the industry whilst we deal with the here and now, the more immediate challenges that we are facing across the globe.”
Mike Follett, Managing Director, Lumen Research
“From GDPR, to a pandemic, to the demise of third-party cookies, war and economic turmoil – discussions at this year’s DMEXCO were more serious but we still saw a celebration of the best in digital innovation as the community came together for two days of seminars, debates and masterclasses outlining the future of the digital economy and ways to drive value.
“Following the pandemic, and faced now with yet more uncertainty and turbulence, businesses are understandably keen to better understand their clients and target audiences.
“Faced with a growing cost of living crisis, efficiency is key, too. Too often, the industry is guilty of ad clutter and wasted spend, with audiences unsurprisingly ignoring many poorly designed ads.
“For this reason and many more, effective measurement and attribution were featured heavily in discussions at DMEXCO, as we continue to advise advertisers to leverage attention data thanks to technologies such as eye-tracking.
“Sustainability remains a critical issue, too, as Europe faces sky-rocketing energy bills and the prospect of blackouts. Just think of all that wasted electricity spent delivering trillions of ads that never get looked at.
“Advertisers must seek to use attention data to target their advertising towards low clutter, high attention sites; with better results for the consumer experience and for businesses.
“For all these reasons and many more, we had a brilliant experience getting to meet like-minded industry pioneers determined to lead the way when it comes to advertising that cuts through the clutter, grabs attention and drives impact.”
Anthony Lamy, VP EMEA Client Partnerships, Vidmob
“Historically, brands have attended DMEXCO to check out what’s new in the digital advertising space, only to leave completely overwhelmed by the volume of company introductions and variety of technology available.
“For a DMEXCO veteran like myself, the smaller size of the event compared to previous years was actually a welcome change.
“This year it felt that brands in attendance had a clearer agenda in mind, including which companies they wanted to meet.
“The brands we spoke to know that they have the opportunity to adapt and demonstrate their agility to gain a competitive advantage over others who are too risk-averse to try new paths.
“As their understanding of media optimisation only extends so far, the next step is to support them in making the best possible campaign creative for each platform they chose to advertise on.”
Jonathan Di Sapia, VP Demand and Partnerships, LoopMe
“The event was noticeably smaller this year, with some significant absentees – including Microsoft, Linkedin, Ebay, and SalesForce.
“There were also some notable DACH publishers missing, which tells its own story.
“For me personally, fewer stands and lower footfall meant less opportunity to discuss business, which was disappointing.
“That being said, the halls still felt “busy”, and we managed to meet all of our largest partners.
“I also enjoyed the presentations, noticing a lot of talk around sustainability. There certainly seem to be a few companies (who will remain nameless!) that are making the most of this topic to become more relevant again.
“However, it was good to see IAB Europe use the event to launch its Sustainability Standards Committee – it will be interesting to see how hard this initiative is pushed across the industry if current economic headwinds increase.
“Overall, an engaging event, but i’ll be curious to see how it evolves in 2023…”