More than 40,000 visitors flocked to the expo, but with the sheer scale making it difficult to see the whole event, experts from throughout the industry have shared their thoughts here.

Thomas Bremond, general manager international, Comcast

“The rapid evolution of TV and video advertising has led to concerns about fragmentation, as the audience watch content across a variety of screens and platforms.
“One of the key discussions at DMEXCO was how the industry can create convergence at scale, allowing publishers and broadcasters to provide one offering across all screens, and making the process of purchasing inventory as straightforward as possible for advertisers. This process requires co-operation on a large scale – including the unification of legacy and new technology stacks, bringing together data from different areas of the supply chain, and partnerships between industry leaders.”

Stewart Maurer, VP of marketing, Crownpeak

“A dominating theme at this year’s DMEXCO, was how the digital advertising industry is responding to the introduction of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) earlier this year and how consumers are keen to regain control over the collection and processing of their personal data. It’s clear to see that many companies are still missing the mark when it comes to compliance.

“Whether consumers decide to exercise their rights or not should not have any bearing on how companies are operating when it comes to compliance. Transparency is key and it’s crucial for marketers to put the needs of the consumer first, focusing on providing high-quality experiences, ultimately leading to more trusting and long-lasting consumer relationships.”

Andy Evans, CMO, Sovrn

“The newest acronym at this year’s DMEXCO was AI, particularly in delivery and dynamic creative, and was especially evident in the startup zone. Topics like AI will always spark a debate, and it is the ever-evolving nature of the industry that keeps attendance at DMEXCO high.

“Indeed, it was believed that, since the introduction of an entry fee, DMEXCO would see a dip in attendance. In stark contrast to these expectations, however, the event saw fewer stands, overflowing seminar rooms, and an exceptionally high attendance. This suggests that DMEXCO continues to remain an important networking platform for individuals in ad tech around the globe.”

Michele Marzan, chief strategy officer, MainAd

“For buy-side technology providers at DMEXCO, there was only one dominant trend: machine learning, and in particular deep learning. Retargeting experts, demand-side platforms, and media platforms engaged in debates about how to keep this branch of AI human — utilising solutions such as predictive analytics to enhance campaign scale while keeping ads creative and strategy focused on real people. Discussions also highlighted the importance of maintaining transparency. Just as a lack of clarity into programmatic systems has previously caused misunderstanding, there is also a risk that black box AI technology could drive confusion. It is therefore vital for those working in the field to remain open about their practices, and tools to drive performance in a sustainable way.”

Marlene Grimm, analytics manager, TVSquared

“The sheer breadth of advertising technology businesses at DMEXCO this year was highlighted on an industrial scale and a reminder of how fast our ecosystem is expanding. In between the continuum of seminars and conferences, conversations around paid-search strategies were frequent.
“From Virgin Trains selling tickets via Amazon Echo voice search to 90% of viewers using second screens while watching TV, advertisers are constantly looking for the next best campaign strategy to drive search response and hit those all important brand KPIs. Online search is an effective way for brands to reach connected consumers, but coordinating it with campaigns – be it on TV or otherwise – will make it even more powerful.”

Charlie Johnson, VP, UK and Ireland, Digital Element

“The atmosphere at this year’s DMEXCO was buzzing and it was great to see both old and new faces in the halls. As always, there are the usual hot topics trending throughout the event, including the digital transformation in an age of disruption and whether the new data protection laws are limiting performance or pushing industry players to find new perspectives around how to succeed.
“Personally, I think the GDPR is fuelling a positive change in the industry – possibly even making this ‘the year of location data’. The sector is being cleaned up and the industry as a whole is showing a huge desire to work with the most accurate and compliant data available. As we move past DMEXCO, it will be interesting to see how the relentless evolution of technology continues and how advertisers’ ever-growing expectations impact the direction in which it moves.”

Nick Morley, managing director EMEA, Integral Ad Science 

“Discussions at DMEXCO 2018 centred on video’s ability to provide advertisers with an opportunity to capture attention with not only creative imagery but motion and sound.

“It’s clear that video advertising is in demand, making it no surprise that inventory comes at a premium, but also an attractive target for fraudsters. Tools that seamlessly protect video across all platforms are essential for marketers today. To protect campaign investment and drive performance, brands must employ real-time blocking and utilise pre-bid targeting for programmatic buys to achieve the best placements possible.”

Oliver Whitten, COO, Adform 

“The energy at DMEXCO was stronger than ever, with the new DMEXCO team charging forward. AI was clearly front and center on everyone’s minds, but we also saw a heavy shift in the mentality towards the role ad tech should fill. This pivot is structural and reflects recent M&A in the industry, increased consultancy presence, as well as a heavy investment among key players as they scramble to build towards more integrated advertising and marketing tech solutions that leverage the synergies of an integrated platform approach.”
“It was also quite fun to see some of the most powerful media brands embracing booth designs that resembled walled gardens  — fenced off and accessible by invite only — compared to the transparent, open-plan layout chosen by almost every other exhibitor.”

Itamar Benedy, CEO, Glispa

“Where Cannes Lions highlighted tensions that exist between ad agencies and consultancies, DMEXCO saw a fight erupt between open advertising platforms and walled gardens – specifically over Google’s ID restrictions. Indeed, a number of the panel discussions focused on this debate, with many marketers venting frustrations that the industry seems to be moving away from data democratisation and back to the closed approach. 

“Google’s strategy is creating fragmentation for marketers, signalling the need for a more holistic approach, and synchronicity between different platforms. Whatever the outcome of this battle, it will have a major impact on the industry, determining how marketers operate in the coming years.”

Andrew Buckman, managing director EMEA, Sublime

“While DMEXCO may be over for another year, it’s certainly given digital brands and marketers plenty to think about over the coming months. There were several key points that had people talking at this year’s event, predominantly transparency, data, AI, and creativity – which were reflective of the theme, Take C.A.R.E. (Curiosity, Action, Responsibility, Experience).

“Brands recognise the need to ensure their campaigns remain in line with the customer’s shifting requirements, and much discussion was dedicated to how they can go about doing so. AI and rich media were high on the agenda, with advertisers looking for new innovations to ensure maximum impact and engagement. However, the importance of more ‘traditional’ forms of advertising – such as storytelling – was not overlooked, as marketers explored how old and new can work hand-in-hand.”

Peter Falcone, director of analytics EMEA, Flashtalking

“As the fastest growing format in digital advertising, video was always going to be a leading DMEXCO trend. Not just popular with advertisers — attracting over £11.5 billion in ad spend — the format is also increasingly the chosen method of content consumption for audiences, which makes it a vital component of any online marketing toolbox.

“Keen to enhance its impact, attendees at this year’s event were focused on how to optimise video through the convergence of data and creative – using insights to deliver messages with personal resonance. Yet leveraging enough data to dynamically tailor creative messaging through video can be challenging, especially when we consider that doing so effectively requires detailed information about myriad audience segments and their interactions with brands. Companies must, therefore, adopt a practical strategy for gaining a comprehensive view of audiences that enables them to overcome these difficulties and adjust video ads for maximum results.”

Chris Hogg, managing director, EMEA at Lotame
“Facebook and Google are eating advertising. That’s no secret. But I’m seeing a lot of publishers – premium publishers, in particular – talk tough at DMEXCO, highlighting key differentiators like brand safety and creative applications of audience data. While Facebook and Google are experts at leveraging their wealth of first-party data, some publishers still have a long way to go and need to get smarter at and more creative around how they collect, evaluate and action the data they do have access to. They also need to consider augmenting that data with second and third-party audience data, where it makes sense, for audience extension and deeper audience insights. This can help ensure that they’re in the best possible position to win new RFPS and increase performance with existing advertiser clients.”

It will be interesting to see what the next year holds, including the steps the industry takes on solving its transparency and data governance issues, and how the new channels and formats explored in this year’s show offer exciting new routes for innovative marketers.