#dmexco17: 9 Key Takeaways Revealing the Future of Digital Advertising

Following what has become like a ritual in September, our team went to Cologne to attend #dmexco17It’s a nice opportunity to talk about the business while being away from the (daily) business while getting the latest market updates from industry leaders. If you can find the gems in a conference program boasting 570+ speakers, that is. In addition to helping you navigate through this year’s industry trends, we have listed our key takeaways from another inspiring edition below.


1. #AI in Advertising is only as good as its human counterparts. 

With AI definitely being the hype topic at #dmexco17, practical angles -let alone use cases- are still far-fetched. Already having incorporated AI into their day-to-day marketing practice, industry leaders did share some valuable advice for those just starting out. “It’s about posing the right problem for the AI to solve. What are we optimizing for? What is the most relevant data for the AI?”, eBay’s global lead of advertising Beck Kloss stressing the valuable part that people play in the equation. Yoav Izhar, the founder of our targeting partner Kenshoo, even warned marketers to ‘stay human’:

2. Future-proof your marketing: drive innovation by putting the customer’s interest first 

If you want to be on top of the wants and needs of your customer, combining data from all marketing touch points is essential. With all customer data scattered throughout first, second and third party data setups, taking (parts of) this in-house might give brands a big advantage. According to a panel consisting of agency leaders, assembled exclusively for #dmexo17, finding a fitting model has to be figured out in-house, as this is different for every advertiser. One must be willing to break a few silos to integrate that hybrid model seamlessly around the customer. To make this work properly, all parties have to be involved. Agencies tend to have an agile way of working, but advertisers need to be able to transform and scale too. Check out our trading desk in-housing service OWNIT for our take on this.

3. Advertising Transparency: a big topic at #dmexco17, but the industry has a lot of changes to make still.

Facebook coo Cheryl Sandberg announced that the social network is taking action on providing more transparency by enlisting more third-party verified measurement providers and launching brand safety tools, in what appeared to be a direct response to Procter & Gamble moving towards less specific targeting on the social platform. P&G’s chief brand officer sounded the alarm in January, presenting a list of demanded changes for the advertising industry. In his #dmexco17 keynote, he stated those changes to be “60% done”.

4. Consumers know exactly what they’re looking for. Advertisers should provide a smooth experience to get there.

In her #dmexco17 keynote dubbed Marketing in the Age of Assistance, Google VP Tara Walpert Levy focuses on the demanding, super-empowered consumer. “They expect technology to know what they want before they’ve even thought of it. (…) When they type in ‘pizza’, they want the platform and the brand to know whether they are at home, on the couch (…)”.  She suggests advertisers deliver meaningful assistance to these so-called research obsessed consumers. Good thing our sister-startup Conversed.ai is fixed on doing just that!

5. To remain relevant, advertisers should act as the consumer’s assistant.

As information on products and services is now ubiquitous and accessible to all, brands should help these super-empowered consumers navigate according to Google’s Tara Walpert Levy. Looking at content as a primary pillar for growth, Pinterest’s head of global sales Jon Kaplan advises brands to keep it real: “Have an honest conversation, be authentic. Test, iterate, try out”. The scrapbook-turned-marketing-machine follows up this week by launching a self-serve platform. Also, Google says mind your UX.

6. Fixing the advertising value chain, the #dmexco17 edition: re-gain the advertiser’s trust and resist the duopoly.

Following Facebook’s exaggerating video views scandal a year ago and Google now refunding advertisers over fake video views, restructuring the value chain seems ever so important. Corresponding with Oath president Tim Mahlman’s view on countering the Google-Facebook media duopoly, several big European broadcasters have now teamed up and launched a programmatic video alliance. improve transparency by leveraging blockchain and AI technologies.

7. Video killed the (animated) image star, or so it seems. 

As TechCrunch just reported the growth of video advertising to have spiked in Q2, Dmexco even hosted a private networking event on video advertising. According to Google’s Tara Walpert Levy, one in three brands is now using their recommended six-second ads format —as presented at #dmexco17. To illustrate how this format is leveraged best, YouTube has created a specific Ads Leaderboard showcasing the best bumper ads from around the world. With data-driven programmatic video on the rise, ‘hacking’ user-generated content is the new frontier according to eBay’s global advertising lead:

8. Adapt quicker to changing market situations by blurring advertiser-agency lines.

Interesting developments in this field as more and more hybrid models pop up. Advertisers and agencies alike now realize that transforming is a necessary, continuous practice. In the final panel discussion of #dmexco17, valuable lessons were shared between prominent agency leaders. The general consensus: taking (parts of) your agency in-house and adopting a holistic agile way of working is the way to go for brands that want to remain relevant.


9. Mobile is big, but conversational can become even bigger.

As Recode reports that mobile is driving most global ad spend, conversational advertising is emerging as a big trend in cross-platform marketing. Leveraging the potential of machine learning, a back-and-forth conversation between brand and consumer can replace multiple touch points on different channels, spread over days —or weeks, even. While the first generation of chatbot builders have paved the way with experimental, isolated use cases, the big challenge for advertisers now is to integrate bots into their consumer journeys.