Nicola Mendelsohn: Dmexco reminds us that privacy and innovation can go hand-in-hand

We can focus on protecting people's privacy, providing more transparency and still continue to innovate / Dmexco

It feels like a hum of optimism crept back into Cologne last week as marketers from across Europe gathered together at Dmexco.

I missed being there in person, but I could feel it from afar and from my own colleagues who have been in the Koelnmesse.

It’s that buzz you get when you’ve found a way to capture the imagination of your partner and plan to create something new, together. And all you want to do is immediately share it with others and get straight back to the office to give it a try.

Yes, it's been a challenging year with ongoing discussions around the importance of privacy, responsibility and transparency. There has been a lot of hard work this year on these issues with more to come. But it was incredibly uplifting to hear the familiar buzz of excitement that’s always felt at Dmexco.

Captivating Cologne

A number stories that have particularly caught my eye from the halls of Dmexco this year.

The announcement of new vertical products from our friends at Vice Media and YouTube prove the video boom is continuing to gain momentum.

This week Instagram’s head of business, Jim Squires, also echoed the power of the vertical format at the conference. Many German brands are already successfully adapting Instagram Stories and IGTV, with German cosmetics store DM using both formats to present and explain their products in more detail and offer their followers behind-the-scenes insights.

It's all happening on a pocket-sized, vertical screen.

Meanwhile, there was continued enthusiasm from retailers like MediaMarktSaturn's Pieter Haas and chief executive and retail guru Ron Johnson, about how digital innovations and advancements in AI, AR and VR can reinvent the world of retail. Our friends at L'Oreal also know this well.

As an avid listener of Adam Grant's WorkLife, it was also no surprise that an unassuming format made the headlines at this week’s gathering: the podcast.

I've been listening to podcasts for years and it's definitely growing across more European countries like the UK and Germany. I love seeing how brands like General Electric are using these formats to find more intimate ways to connect with audiences.

Of course, events like this are an opportunity to bring our global community together and to take stock. We are only four months on from GDPR and there's been a lot to reflect on for businesses big and small here in Europe.

This year's conference theme 'Take C.A.R.E' was spot on. Each component, (Curiosity, Action, Responsibility and Experience) is a reminder for us all as we build for the future.

Crucial Conversations

It was encouraging to see many businesses, like Deloitte and MediaLink, embracing that theme and coming together at Dmexco to share ideas around how we can restore trust and continue to put consumer privacy first. All this while staying relevant and continuing to innovate.

Within Facebook, we spend a good portion of our days learning from where we got things right and most importantly, where we haven’t. We’re determined to build from that. It's our responsibility to the 2 billion plus people who use our platform to connect, share and build communities. A commitment that's closely aligned to Dmexco's motto this year: 'The digital economy is aware of users’ needs.'

Our users have clearly told us that they want more control over their information and more transparency over how we use the information they choose to share with us. They also want more safeguards so that bad actors aren’t able to abuse our platform. People and businesses deserve nothing less. While we know we can never be 100% perfect, that will never stop us from trying to do more to keep our community safe.

That's why in recent months we've provided people with more transparency and controls. Plus we're being more transparent about why people see certain ads and what ads each page is currently serving. We must educate people more on all of these controls, and we will do so.

We've also been working with advertisers to build more controls and took another step forward this week. Now all advertisers have access to comprehensive publisher lists and delivery reports to better control where their ads appear in Facebook In-stream videos, Audience Network apps and publishers, and Instant Articles.

Like we are, we saw that businesses across Dmexco and beyond have shown this year that they share the same commitment to getting privacy and safety right, so the industry can continue to focus on innovating to give consumers the personalised experiences they want.

C.A.R.E. and collaboration

We can focus on protecting people's privacy, providing more transparency and still continue to innovate. That's what these events are all about.

When our industry comes together to collaborate, like we do every year at Dmexco and even other moments too, we can achieve great things.

Whether that's building new experiences to engage customers, finding ways to help business grow their organisations, or tackling the challenges to restore trust in the digital advertising landscape. It's all important.

Dmexco, brings together people from all over the world and its energy has always exemplified the very best of this collaboration to me.

I hope to be back among you all, at an even more optimistic and forward looking Dmexco next year.

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