Digital Marketing: Takeaways from Dmexco 2017



Amazing digital customer experiences, artificial intelligence, predictive marketing, conversational ads, people based marketing, "clean" advertising… Our visit at Dmexco exhibition and conference in Cologne, Germany, last week provided a rich learning experience. The event attracted more than 40,000 visitors and 1100 exhibitors from 39 countries across 6 gigantic halls to present and discuss the latest trends and innovations in digital marketing. In case you weren't there, read below to learn about some of the key takeaways.

AI, from buzzword to reality

It could take half an hour to walk across one hall, and you could see artificial intelligence everywhere you turned. Beyond the buzzword, AI seems to have been really integrated in terms of technological solutions, covering a wide range of areas that are noteworthy for their ability to impact the future of marketing: productivity, campaign analytics, lead scoring and hyperpersonalisation. It's all about delivering the right message on the right channel at the right time, implementing programmatic advertising and media buying, predictive journeys, customer segmentation, sentiment analysis, and more.

MediaMath, the leading independent programmatic company for marketers, took the opportunity to announce a partnership with IBM Watson, the world's leading AI platform for business. Their objective is to enhance programmatic campaigns with AI. 

Software giant Adobe also recently embedded artificial intelligence and machine learning capabilities to the premium package of its Adobe Target, the company’s optimization and personalisation solution. Adobe Sensei, a machine learning platform, is now integrated with all the Adobe clouds - and is utilized for various reasons, from creative to advertising to marketing and enhancing the experience.

According to Salesforce's State of Marketing report on the current marketing landscape (taken in their booth!), marketers anticipate AI use will grow by 53%—a much higher rate than any other tech type at present.

Marketing automation tools like Pardot, Hubspot and Marketo are able to offer predictive lead scoring and automated content recommendations by infusing more data, artificial intelligence and machine learning in their platforms.

Another example is the advertising technology company Rocket Fuel, which also presented its predictive marketing platform (in partnership with IBM Watson) and explained the transformation from programmatic advertising to predictive marketing with AI.

Are (voice controlled) conversational ads the future?

Video ad tech player Teads presented its new display offering at Dmexco and, more importantly, its new chatbot solution. The video marketplace diversifies its range of solutions originally focused on video streaming. For Teads, the future of advertising is conversational, thanks to chatbots. « When you walk into a store, you’re generally greeted by a representative of the brand you’re visiting. You can ask questions, get more information about the products and, ultimately, buy them. Teads wanted to replicate that same retail experience into a video ad, so the company created the first chatbot-powered interactive video ad. Chatbot enables you to ask questions about the brand, get information on products and even order a product within a video. »

In practice, the bot is accessible from a call-to-action visible on the top of the video and varies, in particular in regards to time of day. 

We can imagine that conversational advertising solutions will increasingly help brands develop innovative and immersive engagement strategies, as well as AR, VR or 360 video.


Providing value to the customer

From purchasing advertising space to data on boarding and DMP (data management platform) services, everything at Dmexco was related to data. For example, DMPs/DSPs like AppNexus, Data Xu, or MediaMath are increasingly important pieces of technology for marketers today, allowing them to unify, normalise and activate their first-party data assets across the marketing ecosystem.

However, it's important to remember that the intended purpose is a better customer experience. « [Beyond data] the question is how do you provide more relevance, more value to the customers », said LinkedIn Co-Founder Allen Blue at the conference Lightening the age of transformation: do we need a new mindset? « Providing value to the customers is the thing that matters most, » he added.

Customer experience is the brand battlefield. According to Salesforce's State of Marketing report on the current marketing landscape, « 68% of marketing leaders say their company is increasingly competing on the basis of customer experience. »

Customers increasingly expect personalised, consistent experiences - and their loyalty is on the line.

From voice and interface design to value exchange, marketers that empathize with the needs and emotional state of their customers will win their trust and loyalty.

Identity means people-based

As they do not want to give Facebook and Google full power in a post-cookie world, 3 giants of the advertising world- Liveramp, Mediamath et Appnexus - launched this year a consortium that calls for common "people based" across devices. The objective is to provide as effective advertising targeting tools such as Facebook and Google while respecting the privacy rights of online visitors. Index Exchange, OpenX, Rocket Fuel and LiveIntent already joined the initiative, and many others should follow in the next few months.

Beyond cookie-based advertising, privacy has to be put first now that identity drives the best experiences. Identity resolution should allow you to connect the right personally identifiable information and yet link it to pseudonymised data to improve relevance in the digital space.

This connected, single view of individuals delivers one-on-one, customized communications across the consumers’ chosen devices, browsers and channels. In terms of measurement, by combining online and offline data together, this also gives you the ability to know what marketing at what touchpoints works best.

Data & transparency

Transparency was a key conversation at this year’s Dmexco event. First, the European Union's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) comes into effect on 25 May 2018. A major shake-up of data privacy laws is on the horizon. Although brands do not seem to be ready and are afraid they won't meet the requirements, GDPR could instead be « good news ». For Julia Shullman, Senior Director, Deputy GC, Commercial & Privacy of AppNexus, the GDPR is an opportunity for brands to "better explain to consumers what they do with data. » 

On the occasion of Dmexco, Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook chief operating officer, presented the giant initiatives to « provide more clarity and control for advertisers ». A way to react towards growing criticism of Facebook for a lack of transparency.

Programmatic ads also need more transparency. How much of an advertising budget goes to an end publisher to pay for advertisements that were really viewed? Currently, when you spend that budget on real time, programmatic inventory on the open internet, perhaps half of the ad unit you buy will be viewable. It’s not an efficient system, which explains why so many marketers concentrate their budget on Facebook—a platform that charges only for ads that scroll into view and that don’t rely on intermediary technology partners to execute campaigns.

The advertising industry is being tainted by a lack of transparency and trust, as well as non viewable ads and cluttered ad experiences. How can we create a more transparent programmatic landscape? How can customers start paying only for viewable impressions? This will be a collaborative effort… Mark your calendars: the next edition of Dmexco in Cologne will run from the 12th to the 13th of September in 2018! 

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