Dmexco – Marketers discuss key takeaways including digital transformation, automation and innovation

Dmexco, the biggest conference in the ad tech calendar, has closed its doors for another year following a heady programme of talks and almost 500 speakers. From big data to programmatic, the two-day event held in Cologne, Germany, was packed full of insights for digital marketers ­– but what resonated most for those who attended?

The Drum catches up with a cross-section of the digital marketing industry to hear their thoughts on the key takeaways from the conference, spanning transformation, automation and innovation.

Guy Phillipson, CEO, Internet Advertising Bureau

When I see the size of this gig, I swell with British pride and thank Sir Tim Berners-Lee from the bottom of my heart for giving us this bountiful platform 25 years ago.

The massive Dmexco community represents the advertising machine that essentially keeps the internet free for all of us to use.

To think the first Dmexco started on a couple of trestle tables in Dusseldorf back in 2002. Now it's grown to monstrous proportions.

12 years ago at the first Dmexco it was a straightforward proposition; here are some digital publishers and affiliates, and here are their salesmen.

Now, we have 30,000 visitors and 700 exhibitors from all corners of the blessed Lumascape chart. It's bloody complex.

And, frankly, I pity agencies who have to get their heads round the limitless opportunities for their clients – exciting as they all are. But it will get better (I promise) as the simple always defeats the complex.

David Shing, digital prophet, AOL

Dmexco has become more of a marketing technology conference, which makes me less tense because technology for technology's sake doesn't help enable better consumer behaviours.

I'd like us to be in the corner of the consumer more, and seeing some of the understanding of how to connect brands and consumers together seamlessly and authentically then we have the human web and that's amazing.

Patrick Albano, head of solutions EMEA, Yahoo

Content marketing is the hot topic from this year’s Dmexco.

We’ve seen how technology is making it easier to do more in less time, testing consumer patience and enabling faster creation and curation of content.

Therefore brands, publishers and consumers are evolving the way they create and distribute content in reaction to these trends, focusing on modernizing the types of content they develop to be more visual and ‘bitesize’, evolving how it is delivered – including making the most of emerging platforms like Tumblr and making it more inspirational so it can be shared.

As consumers and platforms change, advertisers are evolving the way they tell stories about their products and brand image.

Sarah Wood, COO and co-founder, Unruly

If I had to choose one word to sum up this year's Dmexco it would be ‘transformation’, and not just because Dmexco itself is bigger than ever before, with a notable influx of American marketers.

There's been a lot of change since we all met in Cologne 12 months ago and the marketers I've spoken to are faced with innovation overload.

How to use real-time data in everyday practice, the challenge of platform differentiation within the programmatic ecosystem and the various flavours of content marketing options were all hot topics at this year's digital summit.

Mad men and math men had plenty to get excited about in the Debate and Congress halls, but it would be great to see more women on the stage next year.

Rikki Webster, marketing director, international, Videology

One of the most inspiring areas of the conference for me was the newly introduced start-up village, an area dedicated to the many innovative and high-growth start-ups of the digital economy.

Sitting in on a few of the lectures that took place, it was hard not to feel inspired by the next wave of entrepreneurs entering the industry.

Comprising a number of businesses founded by millennials, a generation that’s never known the world without the internet, their ability to look at the world from a different perspective and challenge norms was inspiring.

An excellent addition to the Dmexco programme and a fitting homage to this year’s 'Entering New Dimensions' theme.

Phuong Nguyen, director, eBay Advertising UK

I saw growing recognition among brands of the value of powerful, unique, first party data such as eBay’s observed shopping insight.

A lot of my conversations on day one were centred around how brands can harness these insights to not only fuel better targeting, but to help inform planning and segmentation. Given the size of the stands of other players like Sociomatic and DunnHumby, I sense we’re not the only ones who see the opportunity here.

Brands are understanding and embracing programmatic. Most of my conversations with brands have led to discussions about how programmatic can help them.

Brands now understand that programmatic doesn’t mean cheap direct response, end of funnel inventory, but represents a far more efficiently way to scale data usage and intelligent buying to access more and more premium inventory.

As a trade fair Dmexco is becoming even more global with international brand and agency teams attending in numbers to kick off discussions about how we can all work more closely together.

If this helps other regions to access the EU’s innovations it has to be a good thing.

Zac Pinkham, managing director, EMEA, Millennial Media

As a business that was set up for mobile, we’ve watched with great interest how many organisations – from other media owners to tech vendors and also brands – have moved to position themselves as ‘mobile-first’ companies.

As consumers increasingly play out their lives on mobile, it’s easy to understand why.

This is no different at Dmexco. Now, not only are there more mobile organisations and leaders contributing to the show and its agenda, but there are more exhibitors from all walks of the digital landscape that are talking about the importance of mobile.

It’s a clear indication of just how mobile is moving towards the heart of all digital marketing.

Nicolas Bidon, managing director, Xaxis UK

Dmexco picked up an ATS London theme; we are seeing greater growth from the marketing tech space, more so than the advertising tech space.

At Dmexco 2014, we continue to see the big players exhibiting and still the major discussion focus is around social, mobile and video technologies and capabilities. However, gaining traction is the start-up village – this year it took a more prominent place and it is great to see the increasing pace of growth of those companies that are innovating in our industry.

Many people are still discussing the challenge of engaging users across devices and channels.

The dream of creating consistent engagement across the consumer journey is still to become a reality, and it is the main challenge that needs to be overcome to realise the true potential of digital.

Jeremy Waite, Head of Digital Strategy EMEA, ExactTarget

We talk constantly about ‘real-time marketing’ but Dmexco reminded me that very few brands actually do it.

'Real-time' means responding to customers in seconds, not minutes or hours.

Brands need to understand that in 2014 they are no longer competing against each other, they are competing against speed.