reflections on #dmexco15

Last week Scoota headed to Dmexco – the world’s largest gathering of leaders, innovators and technologists. Held in the heart of Cologne, across three enormous expo buildings, the biggest data exchanges, ad tech vendors, publishers and media agencies came together for a mass celebration of science. A global geek-off, notably attended this year by an increasing amount of high profile advertising leaders.

Sir Martin Sorrell led the charge with a keynote speech on horizontality and consolidation at WPP. Yannick Bollore gave a glamorous description of how Havas intends to provide the world’s best and most meaningful brand experts. Yahoo’s Lisa Utzschneider spoke passionately about the challenges and frustrations of inconsistent data.

Looking back, Dmexco successfully mixed companies more likely to be found in Cannes than Cologne with hardcore tech businesses. All seemed to be suffering from the same issues of convergence, growth and engagement. Seeing such different businesses have this commonality was startling. Notable areas of growth were discussed such as the emerging mobile markets of Africa, the Middle East and India. Also on the agenda: fragmentation of platforms; inefficiencies of measurement; plus the common anthem- the huge opportunity of programmatic.

The biggest issue that dominated many of these sessions was Ad Blocking – again and again this was put down to disappointing creative and content, rendering digital ads unwatchable. Every session focussed wholly or in part on the fundamental need to improve the quality of online advertising’s creativity.

Dmexco managed to get a quorum from every session I attended on the vital importance of balancing art and science. The customer journey, the creative experience and the brand conversation is as important as the technological way it is delivered to screens. Real discussions about how this should be addressed ran throughout the whole of Dmexco.

A willingness and need to combine poetry and plumbing was the most agreed upon theme of Dmexco 2015. Perhaps 2016 will see not only the revolutionizing of the delivery or the creative – but also give us a reason to watch, engage and converse with brands.