I had the privilege this year to support IPG Mediabrands’ presence at dmexco (Digital Marketing Exposition and Conference), which has been taking place annually in Cologne since 2009. This year’s event, spread across September 18 and 19, almost overlapped with Spikes Asia Festival of Creativity in Singapore, that was from September 15-17, 2013.
My first impression of dmexco was that it is epic in size. Within moments of arrival, you find yourself surrounded by more than 25,000 visitors making their way around three huge halls, packed with exhibiting companies. The worlds of ad trading, ad exchanges, mobile, gaming, production, content agencies, media agencies (like us), e-commerce, publishers and clients are all mixing together in this space.
In variety and scale dmexco is paralleled only by Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity and CES Las Vegas, both of which started out as something else. dmexco is the first global marketing event that was designed specifically to be just that.
dmexco puts you inside the heart of what matters
dmexco is set up to let you dive right in to business. Booths are lively and many are elaborate, hosting workshops or presentations. The people manning these are enthusiastic to promote their work, develop partnerships and spread knowledge. Spotify and Google especially had particularly impressive displays.
While Cannes is a lengthier event and getting longer, dmexco presents a refreshing contrast with a focussed, two-day timetable. At the IPG Mediabrands lounge there was barely a pause in 48 hours. It was a flurry of workshops, meetings and reporters. Mediabrands, MAP, UM, Initiative and IPG Media Lab took part in nine panels in this year’s event.
The buzzing, hive-like set up, the focussed, concentrated schedules and the ability to surround yourself with people working in every aspect of the advertising world felt like you were thrown right into the belly of what matters in our industry.
dmexco has an overwhelming collaborative spirit and interest toward our ever-changing world and what are the best and newest solutions for clients. It was not one agency versus another at dmexco, it was a community of people sharing in the challenges and joys of the industry. You could feel it in the alleys at dmexco and see it on the stages.
The key to dmexco is smart, relevant, accessible content
dmexco has two main stages in the Congress Hall and the Debate Hall, which are always full. The speaking schedule is packed with relevant, high-level players from both the agency and client side. Key figures from Unilever, Microsoft, Yahoo!, Facebook, AOL and Amazon were represented, all debating the hot issues of the day.
A big theme, dear to IPG Mediabrands, which was up for discussion at Dmexco, was how do you market in real time? Our agency spends a lot of time studying how we can automate media buying and debunking the programmatic myths with sprinkles of data, creativity and by cracking the core of how this will help clients improve results.
These talks were relaxed, expertly presently and extremely relatable. And if you were too busy at times working at the event, key panels were made accessible online.
Asia has yet to embrace dmexco
In Cannes, there is a huge Asian contingent present. In dmexco, attendees are almost entirely from Europe and the US. This is an anomaly. The Asian market is driven to be at the forefront of technology and innovation and it will become harder for us here to continue to ignore this event, as it is a great knowledge sharing opportunity.
I know for next year that this will be a key event on my calendar.
The German hospitality helps to set the entire event apart. The German way makes Dmexco truly unique. Through the entire event I kept hearing constant strings of compliments coming from execs accustomed to Cannes and CES. It is friendly and well run and manages to effuse a perfect amount of German spirit into it. The booths flowed with bretzels and German cheese, well placed to sustain you when your energy levels fell low and then the local Kölsch beer appeared, alongside DJs, when it was time to unwind and enjoy each other’s company.
I left dmexco feeling excited about what this industry has in store and the possibilities ahead. It would be hard not to.
The author, Genevieve Loriant, works for the G14 markets of IPG Mediabrands and was an attendee of the dmexco Conference in Cologne on September 18-19, 2013