Marketing in a Digital World: Viewpoints from DMEXCO 2013

For two days every September, Cologne, Germany, becomes the global hub of digital marketing at DMEXCO. For those of you that are unfamiliar with this trade show, allow me to paint a picture with a few numbers:

  • 600,000 square feet of exhibition space
  • 26,000 visitors
  • 740 exhibitors
  • 450 international top-tier speakers

It’s a huge operation and the entire city seems to be packed to the gills with the great and the good of the European digital marketing industry. Booking accommodations for the event becomes an expensive process if you wait too long (I had to contact 15 hotels in March before I could secure something even remotely reasonable); and boarding a 7 a.m. plane at London Gatwick the day before feels like a networking event in and of itself with so many familiar faces.

DMEXCO is now a truly international event with visitors from 26 different countries, which is a very noticeable change from when I attended the inaugural show back in 2009. Fellow exhibitor Roger Williams, CMO at Maxifier, summed it up nicely: “DMEXCO has become probably the largest show of its kind in the world today and now attracts an international audience of quality delegates – it’s the only show we exhibit at during the year.”

In summary, it’s a must attend event for any marketer or organisation wanting to be a part of Europe’s thriving digital industry.

So with a senior, experienced and global audience, what of the conversation? What were the industry trends that were being debated and discussed in DMEXCO’s seminar rooms, conference hall and speakers corner? Well, there was the perfunctory theme of the growing importance and stature of digital marketing. That’s nothing new, but it did come with a twist: Digital marketing is no longer the preserve of the geek with different metrics, platforms and technologies that can be bolted onto the end of a campaign almost as an afterthought. It is now considered by many as a single integrated tool that builds brands and optimises return on marketing investment. In short, we must stop thinking in terms of digital marketing, but rather marketing in a digital world.

In his closing keynote, Marc Pritchard, Global Brand Building Officer of Proctor & Gamble, put it concisely: “The era of digital marketing is over, it’s almost dead. It’s now just brand building, it’s what we do.”

This sentiment fits well with DMEXCO’s motto – “Turning visions into reality.” For a long time, digital marketing has been discussed in terms of the theoretical and abstract, and the marketer’s challenge was to separate vendor and media hype from demonstrable value. Possibly as a result of the global financial crisis, possibly as a result of the breathtaking speed of technical innovation, or more likely a combination of both factors, each marketing dollar spent is scrutinised and viewed from every conceivable angle to gauge its return and worth.

This focus on ROI was another obvious theme of DMEXCO with more than 700 vendors eager to showcase their solutions and products to an audience of attribution-focused marketers. Scores of vendors supported in the Tealium tag marketplace were present, such as Maxymiser, AT Internet, Adobe, Visual IQ, Criteo, AppNexus to name a few. Each of these organisations was able to demonstrate the ROI of their solutions and the role they play in this brave new world of marketing.

“At DMEXCO 2013 I spoke with many digital marketers wanting to gain marketing agility, reduce costs and slash digital complexity by implementing tag management,” said Jeff Lunsford, CEO of Tealium. “This year alone in Germany, Tealium was appointed by Lufthansa, Immobilien Scout and Cash Group, and our vastly-experienced team is ideally placed to turn these marketers’ digital visions into reality.”

Mastering the proliferation of tags and the headaches they can cause proved a hot topic throughout the show. There was a steady stream of brands and agencies arriving at the Tealium booth with similar issues and this marked an interesting progression from the discussion in 2012. Last year, there was much interest about the topic of tag management, but little understanding of its role in the digital marketing landscape. Fast-forward a year and the irresistible simplicity of tag management solutions as well as the emergence of companies, such as Evidon, has bought the topic to the fore.

Exhibiting at DMEXCO, Evidon’s technologies reveal the invisible web to give organisations unique insights into how the digital ecosystem works. Amy King, VP of Product Marketing with Evidon, picked up on similar recurring discussions on their stand saying, “as tags have proliferated across media sites worldwide, there is an increased concern that site owners have let them get out of control, especially in mobile, which is the wild wild west of tracking. Each of the companies we met with expressed concern about how their tags are organised on websites, how to make them perform faster, and how they can best work with publisher and brand partners to develop a better data strategy.”

After two packed days of talking tag management and demonstrating how user-friendly Tealium iQ is, the Tealium team walked away with a very clear sense that German marketers were embracing the innovation, and that the next 12 months were going to get even busier.

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