DMEXCO is back. After a three-year hiatus, one of the most anticipated events in the European ad tech calendar is returning. How will DMEXCO have changed and adapted after the Covid-enforced break? And what do you need to know before the conference kicks-off?**

Between 2008 and 2019, Cologne’s DMEXCO had built a reputation as one of the most important events for the diary, packed with high-profile appearances and networking on a grand scale. Then came Covid-19, bringing with it lockdowns, Zoom calls, and a hiatus on in-person events.

While the lockdowns have lifted, and the industry finds its social rhythm once more, the return of an event the size of DMEXCO is not just the welcome return of an established favourite, but also a proving ground for the industry’s appetite for face-to-face-to-face events.

What you need to know

- Wear comfy shoes. DMEXCO’s home, the Koelnmesse, is vast. A cavernous, purpose-built conference space, there’s a lot of ground to cover. So be ready to put in the KMs as you bounce from stage to stage. DMEXCO is busy, and getting around the venue takes time - expect your average step count to rocket - wear something comfortable on your feet.

- Plan your sessions and your meetings. Advice that goes hand-in-hand with the comfy shoes, if you’ve got must-see speakers in mind, make sure you’ve left enough time to reach them. The handy DMEXCO app will help you work out where to be, when, as well as find the hidden gems and best meeting spots at the venue.

- Bring snacks. Walking all day, meetings, and networking? You’ll need food and drink to keep you going. It’s yet to be seen what might be on offer this year, but DMEXCO has previously been under-stocked in terms of refreshments. Bring snacks to keep your concentration up during the days, or take some time to have a chat with some of the wide array of exhibitors; they’ve been the best port of call for a sugar-hit or thirst-quencher, alongside the industry insights and elevator pitches, in years gone by.

What does the industry expect at DMEXCO?

We spoke to some attendees from across the industry to see what they're hoping to see as DMEXCO returns.

“The narrative has changed from seeking a universal approach to replace third-party cookies to a portfolio one, something we expect to hear more about. The rise of contextual targeting will no doubt be a focus also, with more on how open companies are gaining momentum. The postponement of the cookie's demise gives platforms outside the walled gardens an opportunity to strengthen alternative targeting methods, while fines from data-privacy regulators continue to highlight the shortcomings of the walled gardens.

“Brand sustainability is still a challenge for the digital advertising industry and will be a hot topic, for good reason. Additionally, inflation and customers’ growing desire for clutter-free ad experiences are big talking points — bringing attention metrics and the attention economy further up the agenda for marketers who are under increasing pressure to make their budgets work harder in 2022. DMEXCO is set to be an exciting event with so much to be shared and discussed; we‘re really looking forward to meeting old and new friends in person again.”

Sergii Denysenko, CEO, MGID

“The fact that DMEXCO is once again happening in-person reflects how ad tech has evolved, but also how it needs to change. The pandemic forced everyone, at both an individual and industry level, to rely more on technology. Now we’re moving on to balance these technological advances with putting people front-and-centre. That’s why I’m expecting frank conversations around privacy, advertiser-publisher collaboration, and the future of measurement to shape DMEXCO’s content.

We’ll hear how advances in regulation, identity, and transparency will push creative and technological boundaries, alongside discussions around addressability, brand safe environments, and maximising ROI in the face of economic uncertainty. More collaborative relationships between buyers and sellers will underpin these conversations.”

Ionut Ciobotaru, co-CEO, Verve Group

“There seems to be a lot of buzz around the event, with brands, media companies, and tech partners all itching to get back to Cologne. As always, it’ll be great to meet with our key partners and, in particular, those partners across EMEA who we haven’t had face time with in three years. It’s a great place for new business as well – I’ve lost count of the number of unplanned meetings at DMEXCO that have turned into long-term successful business partnerships!

Sustainability will be a big topic this year I’m sure, as well as supply- and demand-path optimisation across the ad tech side. I’m also hoping there will be some interesting product launches in the ad tech space, and new alliances and initiatives being announced.”

Jonathan Di Sapia, VP demand and partnerships, Global Marketplace, LoopMe

“With the industry’s best and brightest due to be in attendance, we expect DMEXCO 2022 to drive forward-thinking conversations around key topics, including digital sustainability, data, and privacy, and how the economic climate will affect spending and budgets.

Our team, in particular, will discuss the continued development of the retail media space, as well as what lies ahead for CTV, in particular, live sports advertising as it continues to migrate to streaming platforms. There’s no substitute for face-to-face networking and relationship building, so we’re really looking forward to attending in person after three long years.”

Ingrid Couasnon, EVP EMEA, Equativ (formerly Smart AdServer)

“This year, we have high hopes and expectations for DMEXCO. We think it'll be a blast. We expect a lot of conversations on running video ads across web, mobile, and CTV. Topics around tapping newer channels such as CTV are also expected to garner a lot of attention.”

Yael Schuster, VP of Marketing, Aniview

“At DMEXCO, we can expect most of the big brands, agencies, publishers, and ad tech players to be present this year. But it certainly won’t be like previous years when the event was about getting everyone in the industry together. Companies are being much more cautious over the numbers they are planning to send. It’s going to be about having the right people there and having the right conversations.

The economy is obviously part of the reason for this, but there are longer term trends at play. The shift to virtual events and meetings, catalysed by the pandemic, is obviously one of those trends. But even more important is the increasing focus on sustainability. As an industry, we’re becoming more aware of our impact on the planet, the need for companies to take action and be more responsible. Sending the entire company every year to Cologne creates a vast carbon footprint and, with climate change such an important issue, that will be impossible to justify going forward.”

Steven Filler, UK country manager at ShowHeroes Group

“I expect one topic to dominate at this year's DMEXCO – the orchestration of the different IDs to optimise media spend and drive performance across channels. So much has changed since the last in-person event, but with the deprecation of the third-party cookie becoming the norm shifting the focus to first-party data solutions, it is this topic that will grip the industry and for a good reason: as the threat of recession looms, consolidating media budgets, and maximising efficiency in the supply chain is a top priority for agencies and advertisers.

While many solutions will be posited, discussions will focus on bringing together media and first-party data and the opportunities this combination affords publishers and broadcasters as they are able to fulfil the demand side’s needs of increased addressability and reach, without compromising privacy.”

Marco Dohmen, managing director, Enterprise Sales - EMEA, 1plusX, a TripleLift company

(As published on ExchangeWire)