DMEXCO 2018 – A Global Pulse on the Digital Advertising Industry


Every year, about 40,000 online advertising industry professionals head to Cologne, Germany to participate in DMEXCO, the mega-trade conference organized in part by BVDW (IAB Germany). Aside from the hundreds of exhibitors, the two-day program is packed from dawn to dusk across a multitude of stages running non-stop concurrent presentations. The sheer quantity of people and content is staggering. To make sense of it all, we focused on the core themes emerging from the event. Here are some of the takeaways from this year’s show.

DMEXCO 2018 Agenda
The 106-page DMEXCO 2018 Program

Start-up Central


There was a noticeable emphasis on the start-up community this year. It was clear that the industry was experiencing a bit of a retro-moment. Start-ups were putting their wares to work and working the floors like it was 1999. Many sprouting businesses were focusing on solutions to transparency and brand safety and a lot of them were themed around direct pipelines from marketers to marketplace with a few new agencies touting “next generation” models.


Privacy in Motion


Last year’s panic had dissipated as most EU-based organizations are clearly in the thick of compliance implementations and refinements. There were discussions around the broad adoption of the IAB Europe Consent Transfer framework and on the second day, IAB Europe announced a certification program for Consent Management Platforms against the industry framework. This signalled an important step towards quality control and consistency in the marketplace.


Voice Activated


There was a lot of discussion around voice-based search, AI, and the implications for advertisers. Some were waxing their philosophical views on how content bias might present challenges like the ability for consumers to gain fair access to information while others focused on the amazing opportunities that exist to drive scale. There were dozens of vendors specializing in scaled inventory and ad serving for this rapidly growing channel.


Integrated Optimism


Generally, the conference was steeped in the new order mentality. There was a sense that if you were still trying to figure out what X meant, you’re late. Take for example, a great presentation by Timotheus Höttges, CEO of Deutsche Telekom, who’s presentation centred around understanding the millennial value system and the fact that this generation has already reached maximum influence over the market. Höttges‘ view was that when it comes to Corporate social responsibility, it better be so deeply integrated into your organization that it is intrinsic to the brand. A great message about authenticity and the dawn of meaningfully doing “good business”.


Our next global update will come in November after the IAB Global Summit in London.