Disruption… innovation… the occasional pair of proudly worn lederhosen. It’s Dmexco time again, and once more the great and the good of the world of advertising technology are descending on Cologne.
For some time, Dmexco has been the essential fixture on the global ad tech calendar.
But somehow this year feels different.
I’ve been going to Dmexco for five years and although the pace of change has always felt rapid enough to justify the tag ‘real time’, this year it feels like whilst the industry is still buoyant, it is facing some profound challenges.
Here are the five biggest concerns that I think are causing our industry sleepless nights as we board the plane for Germany.
High on the list of advertising nightmares has to be the recent increase in fraud, with projections by the Association of National Advertisers (ANA) putting the advertising investment wasted due to bot fraud at $7bn this year. As fraud has a material impact on campaign metrics, it’s simply no longer acceptable to write it off as an inevitable part of digital trading. Here at VoluumDSP, we’ve taken a zero-tolerance approach to potential ad fraud and consequently filter all our supply pre-bid, ensuring our customers only purchase human traffic. It will be interesting to see what others are doing to reassure marketers on this critical issue.
The perennial thorn in the side of the industry, ad blocking will be another weight on the shoulders of marketers looking to tighten up on waste. Marketers are becoming increasingly concerned about how many of their ads actually get seen, however the recent EU ruling by the Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications (Berec), that ad blocking contravenes net neutrality legislation, could be seen as a beacon of hope within this complex debate. Inevitably, brands will be looking to hold publishers to account over how much of their audience is using ad blockers.
Marketers will be looking for a safe harbour in this storm of uncertainty. However, the turbulent nature of the ad tech market is never more apparent than at gatherings like Dmexco where the changing faces of exhibitors tell the story of tech empires that have risen and fallen. With high profile M&A continuing since late 2015, a few notable companies going into administration earlier this year and the transformation of ad networks into programmatic supply, as the crowds gather in Cologne this week, marketers will be looking to pick the right horse to back.
Although you’d be hard-pressed to find a programmatic sceptic nowadays, it still seems staggering that Dentsu recently stated they see “approaching 100 per cent of media buying being traded programmatically by 2020 – in less than four years.” It is unlikely you will find any stand at Dmexco not shouting about its programmatic credentials, however where in the past this may have seemed like a talking shop of adtech vendors, with names like Shane Smith, co-founder and CEO of Vice Media and Paul Bulcke, CEO, Nestle in attendance this year, the narrative has firmly moved from the margins of tech into the media mainstream and this, if nothing else, is proof of the fact that programmatic is in it for the long haul.
And finally, lest we forget, is the elephant-shaped fallout from June’s referendum. While the dust appears to have settled after the initial Brexit volatility, the future is still far from certain, and marketers will be giving serious thought to their media strategy in general. A huge number of UK companies attend Dmexco in part to access potential European partners and clients. Will this year’s Dmexco be the last dance before article 50 is invoked? And will the uncertainty around the UK’s trading relationship rumble away and change the dynamic of the conversations being had?
With so much at play this year you’d forgive marketers for coming down with the Germany jitters. The mission is clear in Cologne this year: the ad tech community must prove ROI and convince marketers of its value for the coming years. And while, undoubtedly, there will be many dreading the inevitable joshing from old European friends, I for one am looking forward to hearing what the heroes of advertising technology have to say, while renewing acquaintances with our friends on the continent.
Gavin Stirrat is global managing director at VoluumDSP