Three Takeaways From DMEXCO 2018: Top Concerns in Digital Marketing

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DMEXCO—digital marketing expo and conference—has officially ended, and, for many, the response has been a mixed bag. Last year was the first time we saw a slight downturn on attendance in Cologne. This year, again, the attendance thinned a bit.

However, DMEXCO was still busy, and I had quality conversations on day one and throughout. Regardless of attendance, the discussions at the event can steer strategy for the rest of the year.

With that in mind, after speaking with partners, customers, and conference attendees, here’s a look at three of the more interesting takeaways from this year’s event.  

Brands are taking control.

Technology selection—from programmatic to media attribution and data management—used to be up to agencies to run autonomously. Now, this is no longer the case. Brands are talking up how they’re taking a more active role in vendor selection. This is meant to drive a new level of transparency across partners and optimize investments. Brands want to work alongside their agencies and, in some cases, own the relationship with vendors entirely. This is increasingly the case with programmatic, for example. As a result, agencies are extending their own technology capabilities to better deliver on needs. This is only making brands want a deeper view of the tech landscape.

Data quality is a key issue now.

In digital advertising today, scale of data is a given. However, as of late, advertisers have started to recognize that scale is only as powerful as data’s effectiveness. What I’m hearing at DMEXCO is that data quality and accuracy—versus scale—have taken center stage. Everyone is talking about audience data and the validity and precision of the data collected, sourced, and activated. In fact, 84% of brand marketers say that data accuracy is ‘very important’ to their purchasing decisions. As audience data’s importance continues to grow, sophisticated marketers are becoming more interested in its quality to ensure they’re making the right business decisions. This is part of the transparency era.

Audience data is a big opportunity for publishers.

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 act on the data to which they do have access. 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.

From brands to vendors to publishers, DMEXCO is a good bellwether to consider when trying to understand where things are headed. Brands taking control, data quality, and publishers getting smarter about data are key topics I kept hearing about—and for good reason. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised to see them talked about again at DMEXCO 2019.

Chris Hogg is Managing Director, EMEA, at Lotame. Chris leads Lotame’s European operations where he is responsible for maintaining and increasing existing business and overseeing new customer acquisition. Chris has more than 14 years of experience in digital ad technology and operations for Independent News and Media, France Telecom – Wanadoo / Orange UK and Unanimis.