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What happened in Cologne? Three big DMEXCO takeaways

DMEXCO, one of the biggest marketing events in the world, is over. The response was mixed for many, as the attendance — while still strong — wasn’t where it was in previous years. I actually noticed this trend began last year. This year, again, the attendance wasn’t as strong compared to 2016, for example. Still, DMEXCO was busy and I had meaningful conversations with clients and partners there. These discussions often guide strategy for the rest of the year, well into 2019.

With that in mind, here’s a look at three of the more interesting takeaways from this year’s event.

Publishers are turning to data to take on the duopoly
Facebook and Google are eating advertising. That’s no secret. But I’m seeing a lot of publishers – premium publishers, in particular – talk tough at DMEXCO, highlighting key differentiators like brand safety and creative applications of audience data. While Facebook and Google are experts at leveraging their wealth of first-party data, some publishers still have a long way to go, and need to get smarter at and more creative around how they collect, evaluate and action the data they do have access to. They also need to consider augmenting that data with second and third-party audience data, where it makes sense, for audience extension and deeper audience insights. This can help ensure that they’re in the best possible position to win new RFPS and increase performance with existing advertiser clients.

Data quality is tablestakes
In digital advertising today, scale of data is a given. However, as of late, advertisers have started to recognize that scale is only as powerful as data’s effectiveness. What I’m hearing at DMEXCO is that data quality and accuracy – versus scale – has taken center-stage. Everyone is talking about audience data and the validity and precision of the data collected, sourced and activated. In fact, eighty-four percent of brand marketers say that data accuracy is ‘very important’ to their purchasing decisions. As audience data’s importance continues to grow, sophisticated marketers are becoming more interested in its quality to ensure they’re making the right business decisions. This is part of the transparency era.

In the transparency era, brands demand control
Technology selection – from programmatic to media attribution and data management – used to be up to agencies to run autonomously. Now, this is no longer the case. Brands like P&G and Unilever are talking up how they’re taking a more active role in vendor selection. This is meant to drive a new level of transparency across partners and optimize investments. Brands want to work alongside their agencies and, in some cases, own the relationship with vendors entirely. This is increasingly the case with programmatic, for example. As a result, agencies are extending their own technology capabilities to better deliver on needs. This is only making brands want a deeper view of the tech landscape.

From brands to vendors to publishers, DMEXCO is a good bellwether to consider when trying to understand where things are headed. Brands taking control, data quality and publishers getting smarter about data are key topics I kept hearing about — and for good reason. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised to see them talked about again at DMEXCO 2019.

Chris Hogg

Chris Hogg is the Managing Director of EMEA for ‎Lotame.