What happened at dmexco 2017: Insights, learnings and highlights from EnvisionX
Fresh from our recent trip to Cologne, Germany to attend none other than the internationally renowned digital industry event that is dmexco, we’re still feeling the buzz! With over 1,100 + exhibitors from over 39 countries, 570+ top international speakers, 50,000+ visitors from more than 100 countries and over 250 hours of conference program housed over 1,000,000+ sq ft - there was more than enough to see and do! The event really was a hive of activity and it did not fail to disappoint.
We even met a robot or two.
Overall, from start to finish there was a lot of exciting content from Motion Hall Screenings (cue YouTube, Vevo) to The dmexco “World Of Experience”, a special event with an emphasis on innovation which showcased the Internet of Things, connected cars and virtual and augmented reality as well as artificial intelligence and voice technology. In fact, it was the A.I. aspect that was the more noticeable difference for us this year as well as a focal point on “The Female Perspective” and key women in business providing a share of voice at the event.
Lightening the Age of Transformation
The motto this year was “Lightening the Age of Transformation” which embraces a movement of digital transformation, an ongoing process rather than a completed project with no “clearly defined beginning and end.” The digital world is in sync with the continuous changes in the economy, meaning that digital players have to “transform ourselves on every level - strategically, technically and operationally.”
Not forgetting therefore how marketing, brands and companies are at the centre of this change - and how the sole focus is still on the consumer.
Under this motto, dmexco presented some key thinkers, “movers and shakers” and popular influencers of the digital economy, who were able to provide insight and share learnings into innovation and transformation, having integrated digital into their “DNA”.
In attendance from EnvisionX was our CEO and Co-Founder Zheng Zhang and our Director of Business Development for APAC, Ai Nakama.
Businesses Need to Act Before Any Financial Consequence
The event as usual opened with an official welcome from dmexco, Koelnmesse and sponsors with an overview of what we could expect to see. From there, since combatting fraud and ad quality issues is a core value for us, we attended Integral Ad Science’s “Viewability, Ad Fraud, Brand Safety - Unveiling the Core impact on Media Quality” which provided a first-look at data from the H1 2017 Media Quality Report highlighting the global impact of ad fraud, viewability and risks to brand safety.
Leading this seminar was Nick Morley, MD EMEA, and Oliver Hulse, MD GmbH at IAS who talked about how advertisers pay the very same for two very different adverts - one that is in view, and one that isn’t. Similarly, ads not in a brand safe environment are valued in exactly the same way as ads that are in the right context. This also means of course, that buyers are paying the same amount of money for their advert to be served to bots as to humans.
Both cite how these industry issues are widely known but not directly addressed and that “businesses don’t act until they have a financial consequence” which is a real concern for the industry overall and they place emphasis on the need for measurement since it is hard for publishers to price inventory in the right way otherwise and difficult for buyers to “extract the right level of efficiency from their spend.”
Culture is Key to Business Transformation in the Digital Age
Over in the Experience Hall, About You, Reprise Media and Unruly presented “From Founder to Big Business: Leading the Industry to Transformation in the Digital Age” - aptly named in light of the dmexco motto this year. The mission of which as Unruly put, was to “transform advertising for the better” and “evolve culture” and when you’re an entrepreneur you “enjoy the innovation, move forward, know you’re in it for the long haul but have fun while doing it.”
Both About You and Reprise Media cite the same values as successful entrepreneurs in their field and reveal how adopting change and giving people the opportunity to transform and be impactful are key elements and how it’s very important to create a safe space to then create the power of innovation without boundaries. In addition, all the entrepreneurs on the stage focussed on the need to immerse yourself in the startup culture of agility, a mindset that we at EnvisionX have been conscious of driving since our very beginnings and in the Summer announced a new addition to our digital ecosystem - programmatic blockchain technology “EXCHAIN.”
An Audience First Approach is Paramount
Day 2 saw us at Seminar 7 with Experian’s “Move Over Cross-Channel Marketing - Ignore the Technology and Concentrate on Building Channel Agnostic Audiences” which highlighted the importance of focussing solely on the audience first, and building audiences of relevant individuals using accurate and robust data. This data can be used to create 'channel agnostic audiences' which can then be deployed down whichever and whatever channel or technology is preferred and how doing so relegates the difficult technology challenges into practical decisions on a message is delivered.
Ultimately, the advice given was to “profile the audience you reach, thereby creating a single profile” and how this is something that is “gathering more momentum with less fragmentation.” And one of the key takeaways for us was how we are now moving away from a ‘one size fits all’ approach and thinking creatively about how to best engage with each individual customer.
Standards & Metrics: To Help, not Hinder
Moving over to IAB Europe’s “Measurement and the Future of Digital Trading” seminar and panel with Philips, Havas Media Group and Meetrics, which looked at better industry standards (e.g. rigorous measurement of viewability for example) and better experiences for users across Europe. IAB Europe discussed their new certified seal initiative to vendors who qualify and meet the safe standards and practices in order to make the industry a safer place for all.
IAB Europe also asked the panel the question about whether Europe is ready for a definition on viewability in order for measurement to take place. Both Phillips and Havas Media Group cite how although the certification is a great step forward, the full lifecycle of the advert should be looked at and what we can measure and how, based on how much of an ad is seen.
Meetrics observes how more ads need the opportunity to be seen and talks about fraud and how fraudulent impressions should be captured and measured. On the other hand, Phillips talks about how bigger platforms are “reactive rather than proactive” since brand safety is really “hitting brands” and Havas Media Group comments how the brand or advertiser need protecting and that “we need to stop delivery of an ad that is not going to be appropriate” and how there needs to be more counter targeting.
The panel concluded that full collaboration and a thorough 360 review is what is needed to create better standards and metrics that progress and do not limit the digital advertising industry and we couldn’t agree more. Our own ethos at EnvisionX is one of easy advertising for all, and being at the forefront of fighting fraud and poor ad quality as well as transparency. More needs to be done in the industry overall for it to be addressed but it first and foremost starts with completely ownership and responsibility of one’s own products and if everyone adopted this approach, the programmatic industry will see a lot less scepticism - a point that came up in the next panel we attended.
A Revolution Against Programmatic Stagnation
Which leads us to being back in the Debate Hall where “The Digital Advertising Supply Chain Revolution” was led by IAB Tech Lab, Index Exchange, The Telegraph, Oath & The Trade Desk all of whom represented their part in the digital supply chain. Seeking to combat the growing skepticism around the efficiency of digital advertising (due to obscure metrics, offensive content and ad fraud to name a few) they talked about the movement towards a fully trustworthy supply chain, and not only what can be done but what is currently being done to put advertising at ease without putting programmatic at risk.
The debate kicked off with whether the panelists could guess whether the audience thought there was or wasn’t a digital revolution and from there it was a hot debate. The “no” side talked about how the advertisers, the ones “pulling the purse strings” have the power to pull spend and push for change and that this would be the start of of the revolution and that until we see more of this happening, there is no revolution.
While the “yes” side declare that this is indeed the start of a revolution.
Other comments remarked on the demand tech companies who started up in 2007 and how we are only now starting to see what should have happened 10 years ago in terms of resolving industry issues of transparency.
It was great to hear when the subject of blockchain technology came up as part of the conversation, in which the panel discussed how it is a new and safe option for publishers and that a good solution is needed which coincides with EnvisionX’s own blockchain technology “EXCHAIN” which was originally announced in the Summer via ExchangeWire to address the supply chain challenges and industry issues amongst others.
However, from the event overall we feel that more education on programmatic blockchain is needed and as pioneers in this area of technology, we’re well placed to do just that.
And that’s a wrap! Phew! What a show it was. We hope our dmexco round-up and insight has helped you.
We will certainly be in attendance next year.
Did we miss each other at dmexco?
If we missed each other at dmexco this year, let’s get in touch!
Until next time… Auf Wiedersehen!
~ The EnvisionX Team
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