Insights from this year's DMEXCO Conference

Insights from this year's DMEXCO Conference

We were among the 40,000 visitors (10,000 more than last year) that descended on Cologne last week to attend the Digital Marketing Expo & Conference (DMEXCO). The event, which gathers decision-makers from digital business, marketing and innovation, hosted 1,000 exhibitors and 170 start-ups this year. So, judging purely by numbers, the DMEXCO 2018 was a great success. However, did the conference content meet expectations? What were the major topics that were addressed? And did the various presentations, workshops and panel discussions provide any added value for its visitors?

The motto of the event,  "TAKE C.A.R.E.“, speaks to the spirit of the DMEXCO as one of the biggest marketing conferences/expos in the world. It stands for:

C = Curiosity
A = Action
R = Responsibility
E = Experience

After two days immersed in the world of marketing, we basically took away two key messages: The first one is rather simple and in line with DMEXCO's overarching motto, i.e. 

Who is it companies should TAKE CARE of? – Well, their customers! 

And how should they do this?

  • By being CURIOUS – What do customers want? What are they saying? And more importantly, what are their actions, interactions and behaviors saying?
  • By being pro-ACTIVE – Companies are interacting with their clients on personal levels, creating stories and conversations that include customers in their core strategies.
  • By taking RESPONSIBILITY – Whether this be with data protection or customer service, companies are seeing that transparency and accountability can go a long way in generating customer loyalty.
  • By enabling EXPERIENCE – Brands are moving away from simple marketing of products and services; instead, they are selling experiences using deep customer insights to identify interactive campaigns that resonate with consumers on a sensorial level.

The second insight was very apparent throughout the entire conference: 

We can no longer speak separately of marketing and technology – that distinguishing border has all but disappeared. The core of the DMEXCO was not to learn solely about new technologies, but rather to learn how marketers can use these technologies in combination with human creativity to create the best customer experience possible. There were, however, three major trends that could be seen throughout the event:

Artificial intelligence (AI)

Everywhere you turned, AI was on display. Almost every speaker mentioned AI, at least in passing. Though not yet fully developed, artificial intelligence technologies are providing solutions for marketers to more efficiently perform their core tasks and achieve goals. While it has become common knowledge that AI’s use can lift administrative loads, be instrumental in analyzing vast amounts of data and facilitating decision making, many exhibitors and presenters at the DMEXCO seemed to take an alternative approach to presenting AI. 

Artificial intelligence was on display as an aid to creativity rather than a hindrance. We saw AI generating paintings and art for display, used to scan music to create your perfect playlist or transforming design programs to turn a simple sketch into a fully formed piece of creative content. At the DMEXCO, artificial intelligence definitely took a step out of its image as purely a number-crunching technology into a designer's companion with the capacity to change how creative departments visualize content that resonates with audiences.


Throughout the DMEXCO, it was apparent that blockchain could enable new business potential, an insight that seems to have reached a large number of companies. The major reason  blockchain has reached this level of popularity (or acceptance) has been associated with the strong decline of the notorious crypto currency Bitcoin. With the hype around the topic of Bitcoin declining, companies are coming to see the real potential of the underlying technology, blockchain. The technology, with its decentralized structure, has the capacity to elevate the customer experience – and this applies to almost all sectors. 

One use case presented revolved around the insurance sector, which can lead to insurance companies offering more personalized contractual options. Despite the assumed potential of blockchain, it is crucial for companies to have a grounded and realistic approach to the topic. The consensus is that the technology is not yet ready for the spotlight and its associated wide-spread distribution. Furthermore, caution is required when contemplating blockchain technology for new projects. Companies should be wary of broadly advertising blockchain, because as with Bitcoin companies run the risk of overhyping a technology that is not yet ready for the limelight.  

Immersive technologies 

The immersive technologies, AR and VR, have gained tremendous momentum in the past few years – particularly in the gaming industry. The technologies are also enjoying increasing popularity among the retail sector, as the technology seems to provide many exciting visualization possibilities. Due to the intensified engagement of customers (visually and/or auditory), AR/VR can improve the communication and enhance the efficiency of the customer interaction, leading to a more efficient customer acquisition and improved customer retention. AR and VR have many promising applications in the world of retail; however, data safety and data security may impede widespread usage. Obtaining approvals and managing consents remains a hurdle for companies. 

Looking forward, we can be assured that digital marketing experiences are no longer a luxury for brands. They are becoming the baseline for customer interaction. Brands need to integrate technology and innovation with human creativity if they hope to create customer experiences that generate meaningful and long-term relationships. We look forward to attending next year's DMEXCO and seeing how many of these technologies will withstand the test of time. 

Until next time, TAKE C.A.R.E.!