Top Takeaways From DMEXCO 2022: Muted Economic Outlooks Shape Industry Conversations

Designed graphic featuring DMEXCO 2022 dates

DMEXCO 2022 welcomed back industry players from across the ecosystem as global growth forecasts prompted meaningful discussions about the future of advertising. From prioritising privacy, value, and visibility, to the nature of the event itself, DMEXCO attendees weigh in on which trends and opportunities caught their attention. 

By R. Larsson, Advertising Week

Marketers must remain resilient

Believing that challenges inspire adaptability, Emma Lacey, SVP EMEA at Zefr, shared:

“It was great to attend DMEXCO in person this year, after a lengthy pandemic-induced break. As might have been expected, the current financial situation was a topic dominating event discussions, with anxieties surrounding ad spend coming to light.

“With uncertainty dominating the economic landscape, brands have the perfect opportunity to demonstrate their ability to adapt. Marketers should avoid the temptation of making drastic budget cuts, and instead spend smarter. By maintaining a solid presence in the eyes of consumers and targeting channels their audiences love, brands will see longer-term gains. And having transparency into how their money is being spent across the marketing mix, and the impact this is having, means marketers will be able to optimise their campaigns more effectively and set themselves up for future success.”

Transparency and supply path optimisation are driving transformation 

Romain Job, Chief Strategy Officer at Equativ, further highlighted the importance of clarity and control for advertisers:

“Transparency issues aren’t new, but conversations this year took a more strategic view on tackling them. The Equativ booth was packed with advertisers eager to talk about approaches for ensuring clearer visibility and better access to inventory enriched with first-party data. Wider discussions also focused on how supply path optimisation can reduce complexity and the plus points of curated marketplaces — especially when it comes to buyers taking their preferred pick of inventory and data sets. Instead of letting DSP engines run the show, advertisers want greater ability to determine what they buy, and the way media decisions are optimised, with much less emphasis on working to basic performance KPIs.”

Jeremy Steinberg, Chief Revenue Officer & GM, Exchange at Yieldmo, also noted how ad buyers are carefully evaluating their supply chains:

“DMEXCO was once again a great event to discuss the most important, exciting, and innovative trends of adtech. If there was one theme that really stood out, it was “value”. Marketers and agencies are implementing comprehensive reviews of their supply chain to focus on effectiveness, whether it comes to unlocking the value of first-party, privacy-compliant data, easy-to-use programmatic tools that help optimise the supply chain, or a smarter version of the exchange that offers unique value such as data curation and creative technology that allow buyers and sellers to access the full potential of inventory, including in the CTV space. In short, industry players want efficiency and efficacy, be it in their technology, their partnerships, or their strategy.”

Additionally, the potential to adapt the structure of the advertising ecosystem through innovation was commented on by Andy Ashley, Global Marketing Director at SmartFrame:

“The current landscape is a very dynamic one: with so many shifts relating to cookies, privacy, inflation, and sustainability, leaders are facing a multitude of challenges to address all at once. However, with this change comes an opportunity for exploration in which we can improve the structures within the industry that do not serve everyone. Image streaming is part of this innovation, serving publishers, advertisers, and content creators alike. By enhancing both the quality of images as well as their protection, image streaming boosts contextual precision while at the same time guaranteeing brand safety, and has the potential to build a much fairer and more transparent media ecosystem going forward.”

Privacy continues to be paramount for the advertising industry 

According to Julien Gardès, Managing Director, Supply – EMEA & APAC at TripleLift, the economic uncertainty overshadowing the event led to laser-focused discussions about ongoing concerns, including privacy:

“This year’s event felt leaner, more streamlined, and cut right to the core of the issues that really matter. With the impending recession, and marketing budgets under closer scrutiny, this is no surprise. The seriousness of the economic situation was echoed by the seriousness of discussions between attendees.

“There were also conversations around privacy and identity, and how the digital advertising landscape would evolve as the third-party cookie is phased out. Discussions touched on the need for collaboration between advertisers, publishers, and tech partners, and how there would be a need to marry the media power of SSPs with data management solutions in order to achieve scale.”

The role of identity in advertising’s future was a key issue for Sergii Denysenko, CEO of MGID, as well:

As regulators in Europe increasingly take a harder stance with adtech, speakers pondered how the industry can continue to improve privacy compliance while maintaining audience addressability. The need to establish effective IDs to optimise media spend and boost performance cropped up in many conversations, with references to the IAB Tech Lab’s Seller Defined Audiences and contextual targeting debated as potential solutions.

“Optimising media spend and boosting cross-channel performance was high on the agenda of advertisers as the current economic climate cast a shadow over the event. Remaining agile and re-directing spend to the most valuable channels to boost ROI remains critical in the coming months in order to withstand inflationary pressures.”

Emerging opportunities: premium video and digital audio channels 

Despite the sombre economic outlooks, the evolution of impactful advertising channels inspired excitement among attendees. Stefanie Briec, Director, Head of Demand Sales UK & International AudienceXpress at FreeWheel commented:

“Discussions at DMEXCO highlighted the enthusiasm for advanced TV channels such as video-on-demand, connected TV, OTT and addressable linear TV; exploring how the ecosystem can further support buyers in reaching desired audiences across screens and devices.

“Our latest marketer survey, which we revealed at the event, found that data-driven audience targeting techniques are the biggest accelerator of advanced TV growth in the UK, while reach is considered the number one driver of campaign effectiveness. By empowering marketers with the ability to use their first-party data for reach extension, the ecosystem can continue tapping into the full potential of these channels.”

Furthermore, Michal Marcinik, Co-Founder and CEO of AdTonos, spoke to the growing potential of digital audio:

“DMEXCO was a great success, and we thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to make new connections and share knowledge and ideas. While digital audio did not feature that heavily in the programme, it was clear that as the fastest growing adspend channel around, it was the talk of the town. A lot of talk revolved around future proofing our solutions, as well as the development of Web3 and IoT, both spaces where digital audio fits in very well. Not only has audio seen an incredible period of growth in recent years, but smart speaker use is on the rise which proves that audio is far from finished evolving. As our products and services become more integrated and handsfree, audio will become more and more indispensable — it’s an exciting time to be in the ad tech space!”

What’s next for DMEXCO 2023?

Alongside the future of advertising, attendees reflected on the changes to DMEXCO after its hiatus. Jonnie Byrne, Global GM – Marketplace, Demand & Supply Partnerships at LoopMe, shared:

“With entire halls closed, the event was definitely much smaller than in previous years. However, by all accounts the quality of the conversations themselves were much-improved, and the number of pre-booked meetings was huge this year, so it was definitely an event worth attending.

“That said, it’s unclear whether companies will return next year, or invest in alternative events – for example, Online Marketing Rockstars seems to have been pegged as DMEXCO’s biggest rival. Whether unconfirmed rumours that it will be held in the US next year (specifically Miami) help to boost enthusiasm for the legacy trade show remains to be seen.”

Anthony Lamy, VP EMEA Client Partnerships at VidMob, also believes the changes added value to the event:

“Historically, brands have attended DMEXCO to check out what’s new in the digital advertising space, only to leave completely overwhelmed by the volume of company introductions and variety of technology available. For a DMEXCO veteran like myself, the smaller size of the event compared to previous years was actually a welcome change.

“This year it felt that brands in attendance had a clearer agenda in mind, including which companies they wanted to meet. The brands we spoke to know that they have the opportunity to adapt and demonstrate their agility to gain a competitive advantage over others who are too risk-averse to try new paths. As their understanding of media optimisation only extends so far, the next step is to support them in making the best possible campaign creative for each platform they chose to advertise on.”

Meanwhile Lucia Mastromauro, Managing Director UK at Acceleration, commented on how the event’s focus on business has become even more acute in light of recent change:

“Although it’s always been the deal-oriented follow-on from Cannes Lions, the economic downturn has sharpened minds and meant we have seen a level of business focus we haven’t had before. Now companies are determined to get the highest return for their investment, and DMEXCO this year has been reconfirmed as the most important event in the calendar for deal-making.”

While financial uncertainty had a strong influence on the DMEXCO discussions this year, overall there was a persistent optimism from event attendees. Challenges are expected to bring about change in advertising, but the ecosystem appears to be focused on ensuring that progress benefits buyers and sellers alike.