What You Missed: Ad Tech’s 3 Hottest Trends from DMEXCO

What You Missed: Ad Tech's 3 Hottest Trends from DMEXCO The world’s largest digital media and advertising technology (ad tech) conference isn’t in New York, San Francisco, or even London. It’s in Cologne, Germany. DMEXCO takes place each year during the second week of September. Over 50,000 digital media professionals from around the globe gather to discuss the state of the industry and determine how to take advantage of the many opportunities that still exist in digital. For those who didn’t attend, here is a recap of the three hottest topics and trends from DMEXCO.


There is no hotter topic in Europe right now, and it’s likely to have a global impact. The short explanation is that GDPR is an EU law which, as of May 2018, requires everyone in the ad tech chain to have a direct first-party relationship with the user in order to apply that user’s data to target them on any digitally connected device. This relationship is often obtained via a pop-up on a site asking the user to agree to the use of cookies or tracking in order to access content. There are often more than 20 entities involved in auctioning off just one ad programmatically, and, clearly, we don’t expect users to sit there and click “accept” 20 times. On the other hand, the programmatic ecosystem is not only where all digital media is headed but how publishers and content developers monetize their business. Marketers pay more for impressions with data because it delivers a much better ROI. While a good effort to protect consumers from being taken advantage of by unauthorized use of personal information, this law will clearly have unintended consequences, and no one can agree on exactly what can cause a fine. And what is that fine? Four percent of global revenues by the offender. If P&G is fined, its fine could be larger than the GDP of Malta, EU’s smallest member. Data companies are scrambling, and the rest are simply trying to mitigate risk. Our take? This will be interesting.


Marketers want full transparency, but agencies show that when provided with that transparency, marketers are often unwilling to pay what it really costs to do good work with digital media. Because of this tug-of-war between marketers and agencies, many marketers are now bringing in large consulting firms (at many times the hourly rate of an agency, ironically enough) to audit and provide insight into media cost structures. Our take? Very few industries are this paranoid about transparency, but very few industries are as hard to measure as media. When value is easily measured, cost structures are less scrutinized. Digital media should focus on becoming more measurable but also shouldn’t ignore the marketer’s need to better understand the cost structures within our ecosystem.


It feels like the industry will have fraud well managed before the next DMEXCO conference. The three broad categories of fraud are bots, domain spoofing, and format fraud. The recent announcement by The Trade Desk to include White Ops fraud detection (frequently cited as best in the business) on 100 percent of its traffic was the first of many steps to get bot fraud to a manageable place where the cost to marketers is minimal. Domain spoofing will be largely solved by the ads.txt initiative, which we believe will drive most bad actors out of the SSP business. Format fraud still looms large, though. In recent conversations we’ve had with publishers, we’re seeing near complete sellout of all desktop video inventory. Marketers still expect full player pre-roll and video at low rates, but too much of this is in-banner auto-play with high completion rates. The industry does not yet have an acceptable way to solve this, other than identifying when completion rates and pricing are too good to be true. I talked to one marketer as the week was closing out, and they lamented the complexity of digital media. There is no guide to the perfect metric. There is no perfect answer to solving for viewability and fraud. I reminded this person when the first rubber car tire was invented, it was pretty terrible compared to what we have today. But that inventor would surely lament the need for a PhD in chemistry in order to make any advancements in today’s tire technology. Every industry only gets more complex, and it’s those who embrace the complexity that come out ahead. Those were just a few highlights of the top trends from DMEXCO, but what were some your most memorable conversations and topics featured at other industry conferences this year? Share with us on Twitter, and for more insights to elevate your digital media campaigns in 2017, reach out to us anytime.