Dmexco is here – expectations for 2016 | M&M Global

Dmexco is here – expectations for 2016

M&M Global is off to Dmexco 2016, with a busy schedule of video interviews and round tables, as well as reporting on the sessions. Maxus WW chief strategy officer Damian Blackden gives us his expectations for this year’s conference in Cologne.


Start taking your vitamins now.  dmexco, my favourite industry conference is nearly here.  Ad Week called it the number one ad-tech gathering in the world.  Ciaran O’Kane, the outspoken editor of Exchange Wire refers to it as the Disneyland of Ad-Tech.  And he’s right.  It’s crowded, gaudy, and packed with glittering innovations – which assault your senses as you hurry between the halls, each of which represents a different tech kingdom.

When I was covering my highlights of the show last year, I wondered if the ad-tech consolidation that everyone’s been talking about would make for a smaller 2016.  No chance.  Expect more exibitors this year, more crowds, more booth parties, and hopefully some great discussion, with the opportunity to do some productive business.

For those who haven’t been, expect to walk around 20,000 steps a day, whilst managing one’s time between meetings crouched in plywood booths – as dmexco definitely isn’t Cannes – and watching our industry’s elite debating the direction of tech and data on various stages.

As I mentioned last year, there’s usually no correlation between size of exhibitor budget and sophistication of taste.  This translates to an unusual convergence of bleeding edge technology and waterfalls, euro-techno, glitter and lasers.

So, what do I really hope to witness this time around?

Much more diversity

The tech sector is renowned for its shoddy gender balance credentials. With women occupying just 17% of tech jobs in the UK, the industry trails the agency world in this regard.  Attending last year with Maxus global CEO Lindsay Pattison, the lack of women in the crowds and on the stages was miserably stark.

More women, and more minorities generally for that matter, are required to balance out the abundance of white men in shiny suits.  The tech industry is particularly vibrant, and its community needs to be populated as such.

Richer understanding between Marketing and Technology

Ad-tech doesn’t understand enough about brand marketing yet, which is why so many sales presentations focus on tech features and road-maps, and not brand benefits.  Meanwhile, Marketing and Advertising haven’t yet taken the trouble to fully understand how technology actually works – because it’s difficult.  Each constituent needs to try harder, as they will do more business, and achieve stronger results when they garner a better mutual understanding.

Creativity and consumer-centricity

Every stand or booth talks about data driven advertising.  We have more audience information than ever before, and the opportunity to use it for precision targeting at both ends of the funnel. But we all need to remember that we’re in the business of influencing people, which means building emotional connections with them.

Advertising in a digital age is more multi-layered than ever – as we’ve previously touched on at Maxus in the Paradox of Time Online.  We must ensure that even as automation drives the mass individualisation of ads, we don’t forget the visceral connections that communications can make.

Retail innovations

10% of all global retail is now online.  Alibaba did $14bn in sales – in one single day last November.  There’s so much opportunity, as we can move a person from awareness to sale in half a second on their smartphone.  The whole purchase funnel can therefore be collapsed.

Brands want in on the retail action to change the model.  Unilever’s acquisition of the Dollar Shave Club was a very clear statement of intent, and an indicator of what’s to come.  I’m looking forward to seeing what innovations dmexco will bring us.

Publisher confidence

We work with producers of some of the highest quality editorial in the world.  Some people are in effect stealing this content by using ad blockers.  Clearly the ad experience can’t be too intrusive, especially on mobile.  We all get it, and we all know that it’s hard to deliver in practice.

But there’s a value exchange between consumer and content owner.  And I really hope we’ll see more publishers having the confidence to make it clear to people that they have a choice of content plus advertising, or no content at all.

None of the above are simple, but all represent opportunity for technologists and marketers alike, and I’m looking forward to getting into the discussion in Cologne.  See you in the halls.

Check out our video interview with Blackden at last year’s event here:



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