At Dmexco, The Consumer Comes Into Focus

Last week, over 50,000 digital marketing execs and advertisers congregated in Cologne, Germany, once again for Dmexco (digital marketing exposition and conference) 2016. The conference welcomed another record-breaking crowd this year. Here are four key takeaways from the show:

1. Technology for the consumer’s sake

As in previous years, Dmexco is still a conference focused on data and tech, but this year conference goers were shifting their focus towards the purpose behind new innovations. Marketers and technology vendors alike are definitely taking a more consumer-first approach to their advertising endeavors. There is a mutual agreement that marketing investment into programmatic technology should bring added value for consumers and ultimately drive sales. During the two days, advertisers re-emphasised the need for authentic communication between brands and consumers. It’s clear that the future of digital advertising is headed straight towards high-quality content and premium technology with the consumer at the heart of this mission.

2. Proving ROI not technology  

Unlike previous years at Dmexco, the discussion is no longer, whether or not programmatic buying is the way to go. Instead, the focus is on how to ensure return on investment when it comes to programmatic. As automation technology matures, industry measurements for performance have yet to catch up. NBCUniversal’s Linda Yaccarino pointed out the problem of measurement inequality during her Congress Hall session on day one. Advertisers are realizing existing legacy measurements such as clicks and impressions do not ensure marketing effectiveness. Conversations at Dmexco among advertisers emphasized the need to shift towards success metrics such as user engagement and sales uplift. Media agencies at the show agreed and Brian Lesser, CEO of WPP’s Xaxis, even stressed the need for a new ubiquitous currency across platforms.

3. Fraud and ad blocking are still top of mind

The reported $7 billion in advertising investment lost to ad fraud projected by the Association of National Advertisers was top of mind among attendees this year. Fraud is linked very closely to technology, so it is no surprise that this was a hot topic for Dmexco. The short-term effect of fraud is wasted ad spend but long-term effects include harming the user experience and skewing future campaign strategies. Many advertisers and technology vendors are voicing a zero-tolerance approach towards fraud to ensure advertisers are getting human engagement and not robot traffic. Data providers have responded in agreement, stressing the need to verify data sources and requirement for transparency across the industry. Ad fraud will no doubt push users towards ad blockers, which was also a hot topic following the controversial announcement from AdBlock Plus, that they would be launching an Acceptable Ads Platform in the form of an exchange.

4. Mobile takes center stage

Finally, we saw the industry plunging fully into mobile advertising. Previously at Dmexco, advertisers and agencies spoke about the need for a mobile strategy and dealing with fragmented consumer attention. Now, mobile user behavior is the norm and the industry standard, as time spent on mobile outpaces all other media, all eyes are on smartphones. More than just thinking mobile-first, attendees at Dmexco are focusing on apps. Conversations over the two days included leveraging mobile apps and the convenience of mobile for new forms of storytelling.

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