Forty-eight hours at dmexco: What I learned and what you need to know

Posted by Peter Barry On September 19, 2017

This was my first time at dmexco (Digital Marketing Exposition & Conference), and while I was expecting something big, my imagination just didn’t do justice to the scale of the event; 70,000 people, 8 halls, some incredibly creative and lavish booths, speakers, sellers, buyers, start-ups and swag as far as the eye could see.

Some of the speakers included Sheryl Sandberg, Sir Martin Sorrell, Jack Dorsey and PubMatic’s very own Rajeev Goel. While I would have loved to soak up some of the sage advice of such illustrious orators, I was busy meeting clients and potential business partners at the PubMatic booth, along with twenty of my colleagues. Over the course of two days, we had upward of 250 meetings between us, which must be some sort of record.

The US and Europe made up the majority of delegates, but there were strong showings from APAC as well, in particular India, Singapore and Japan. It felt to me, however, that Australia and New Zealand were under represented. In our market, we have some of the brightest minds in tech and publishing and, whilst many of the companies at dmexco have ANZ offices, it appeared that their staff weren’t called upon to fly the flag for the region. This is a real shame, as we have a lot to offer.

Dmexco also highlighted to me just how many players there are in our space. We’ve all seen the cluttered and ever-changing LUMAscape, and this was like a living, breathing iteration of it. It made clear the importance of choosing the right set of partners; partners who have solid tech, great service and are aligned with your position in market. Your partners should be clear and transparent in their dealings with you, whether that’s clarity of fees, control of inventory sources or – if you’re a publisher – who is buying your inventory, thereby enabling you to take control of your business.This was a big part of the conversations PubMatic was having at the event, reinforced by our “Let’s Be Clear” initiative.

For those from the ANZ market considering attending dmexco in the future, here are my three key pieces of advice:

  • 1. Put in the legwork beforehand. The key to making an event as immense as dmexco as productive as possible is to work hard in the months beforehand to schedule meetings with the people and companies that are important to you. There are publishers, agencies, advertisers, trading desks, DSPs, SSPs, DMPs, verification players, content creators, start-ups and many more, so it’s important that you focus on what you want.
  • 2. Plan your days meticulously. The immense scale of dmexco is hard to imagine, so if you do not plan appropriately you will likely miss out on opportunities to network and engage with the right people and content. This will enable you to see the full value of the ticket price and the long flight to Cologne, Germany.
  • 3. Don’t expect dmexco to be like Cannes Lions. Brands are at dmexco because they want to see the value of ad tech. They want to see and understand what the digital supply chain can really contribute to the ecosystem. To put it in perspective, three times as many people attend dmexco than Cannes Lions. That means there’s a lot of ground to cover so wear comfortable shoes. And you won’t be sipping on expensive and overpriced wine on a yacht, dmexco is all about free beer (but not too much!).

In my view, there were two recurring themes over the two days of conversations.The first was, as previously mentioned, transparency, which we at PubMatic believe is about control. From transparency of fees to control of who is buying your ads and who is selling your inventory. As part of that, ads.txt was a common discussion point. While there was some awareness and adoption of the initiative, there were many who either didn’t know about it or hadn’t looked at it yet.

The second recurring theme was a clear feeling that different tech players are increasingly willing to work together for the betterment of our industry, and (from our point of view), to the benefit of publishers.

Overall, I couldn’t speak highly enough of dmexco. I hope that next year some of the local and international tech and publishing businesses based in ANZ see fit to send some of their people to Cologne next year – the event will be all the better for it. 

Peter Barry