Down DMEXCO way: Ten things we learned

by Liely Bullock, Global Account Lead, Tech
Wednesday, September 25, 2019

And … relax. The dust has settled on DMEXCO 2019, and Europe’s ad tech and martech community can get on with their day jobs once more. DMEXCO bills itself as “the meeting place for key players in digital business, marketing and innovation”. So, after two days of serious shoe-leather among Europe’s brightest, brashest and most inventive digital marketers, here are ten things we learned about where the market is today.

1. Cookie-less targeting solutions are on the march.

Thanks to the demise of the third-party cookie – in no small part the result of GDPR for the EU28 and other planned or proposed legislation in California and at a federal level in the U.S. – cookie-less targeting is the hottest ticket in town. All sorts of vendors at DMEXCO 2019 were showcasing alternative data values and solutions to enable effective audience targeting. These included: ID5 with its universal ID solution; Permutive, which stores IDs on devices, which also enables real-time data processing and targeting; and Amazon, which is starting to make intelligent assumptions about customers by analysing spending patterns. For example, the sizes of children’s clothing and number of car seats bought can help establish the number of children in a family. Whatever the solution, data modelling and analytics are key for brands and publishers looking to build custom audiences.

2. Customisation of demand-side platforms can lead to competitive advantage.

The clearest manifestation of this trendis Beeswax’s “Bidder-as-a-Service” offer. A new component DSPs are offering to advertisers is to provide teams of data modelling and analytics experts to help advertisers make the most of the data the platforms generate. Moving away from the self-serve approach is an interesting departure and one that many other SaaS solutions have tried in the past. Sometimes it works and makes the service stickier and more compelling; sometimes it prices the solution out of market reach and swathes of hirings are followed by just as many firings. Watch this space.

3. TikTok is already a serious player.

The Facebook (plus WhatsApp) and Snapchat duopoly shouldn’t sleep too comfortably in their beds. TikTok is launching its own communications platform and it’s already generated enormous traction, reach and impact in its two brief years of life.

4. The industry gender balance of martech is shifting.

There were noticeably more women at DMEXCO 2019 than in previous years and certainly compared to events like Mobile World Congress, which remains like a locker room. More female business leaders had a presence on stands, more keynotes were given by women and more of the attendees were women. Not before time.

5. Connected TV is still being talked about as the Next Big Thing.

It’s been bubbling at the surface for a while, but now that consumer ownership of the right kind of sets and marketing solutions have both reached tipping points, Connected TV’s moment is apparently now. Well, this is what the DSPs and others are saying, but anyone who’s been in the industry for the last few years will know that industry pundits have been saying this for some time now.

6. The martech community is becoming more picky about attending industry events.

DMEXCO themselves say that 41,000 visitors listened to 550 speakers and rubbernecked for freebies on 1,000 exhibitor stalls. Impressive numbers, but 2019 felt quieter – and so more manageable – compared with recent years.

7. Transparency isn’t what it was previously seen to be.

Faith that the overly-complex ecosystem can actually deliver transparency has weakened, despite the sometimes grandiose claims made for Blockchain. That said, advertiser pressure and competition from the big consultancies means that martech platforms will increasingly be opening the kimono to reveal their frameworks and architecture in the years ahead.

8. Amazon was noticeable by its absence.

There were comparatively few Amazon boots on the ground, no stand and very little presence. Amazon Publisher Services was there, it’s true, but no more than that. For a company that powers so much of e-commerce – itself and as the back-end of so many other businesses – the Bezos-light nature of DMEXCO 2019 was unexpected.

9. Content curation appears to be stuck in a bit of a rut.

Given that creativity is the single most important driver of marketing effectiveness, this was a surprise. Celtra’s creative management hub hasn’t moved beyond content and dynamic creative optimisation to create personalised ads based on data about the audience. Some action is needed here.

10. The future’s … uncertain.

Of the thousand-plus exhibitors, the stories being told by those in Hall 9 – the so-called Futures Hall – were weak. What was on offer there was a little gimmicky and devoid of any genuine innovation. We’ll be hoping for more inspiring crystal balls and dynamic vision next year.

So there we have it. DMEXCO 2019 in ten easy outtakes. Roll on 2020.

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