DMEXCO 2018 – The key discussions

DMEXCO has barely closed its doors and the industry is buzzing with new ideas and opportunities. With the privilege of representing Croud, I paced the halls to see and hear about the latest trends and issues being discussed in digital, marketing and innovation, at this year’s event.

The key question

Opening the debate on the first morning in the ‘Age of the Costumer’ session was Phuong Nguyen (eBay), Kevin Cochrane (SAP Customer Experience) and Phillip Messer (Amazon). They led a panel discussion on what would become a key topic of the show – AI and machine learning.

One key question was central to this debate – will machine learning and AI drive digital to the ultimate personalisation of all internet experiences, or will the exact needs of the customer still be the driving force for change within a brand? After a lively discussion, including votes from the viewing audience, it was concluded by the panel and participating professionals, that the customer’s needs should remain the ultimate driving force.

Over several different sessions and throughout the day, I heard varying opinions of how machine learning could bring cost-savings and infinitely-detailed optimisations to an account. Certainly, as a PPC professional, the opportunity to reduce repetitive, but essential, maintenance tasks on an account, allow machine learning to refine keyword choices, and push for better ROI is very appealing. However, this is dependent on a human-derived strategy remaining central to all the activities that account and brand managers focus on  – and it is that human need, that moment of necessity or desire, that brands are constantly trying to satisfy.

The Engines

A strong presence was seen by all the major media players, with Google having recently released both extended ETAs and responsive search ads. Bing hinted at an Autumn roll-out for their new offering – a stronger link between their accounts and LinkedIn data. This would offer a wealth of opportunities to refine audiences by industry or profession – with new in-market audience options currently on beta release in the UK.


A vast number of social media platforms were present at DMEXCO, with YouTube having a particularly large presence. Showcasing the breadth, depth and infinite possibilities of finding, creating and sharing highly specific topics of interest, YouTube’s message was to empower the consumer to use the platform as a portal to learning. This learning includes sharing experiences, teaching skills, trying new things,  experiencing new music, old music, new cultures – anything that fires up the imagination.

Brands need to drive more than footfall, they also need to engage, inspire, motivate and encourage community. This is something which blogger Ingrid Nilsen, the lifestyle expert and online video personality, has become a master at over her decade of video blogging on YouTube. During ‘How Consumer Choice has Changed the Video Landscape’, Ingrid shared her personal roadmap to success, pointing out that this medium is only just beginning.

Life journeys and micro-moments of need

If machine learning tools and AI were one topic on everyone’s lips, the other major focus was on knowing your customers’ needs. Anticipating consumer actions and behaviours by using data to read the imminent major key events in a person’s life – such as birth, marriage and moving house – provided the opportunity for this insight.

As one speaker put it – the funnel is dead.

We no longer live vertical lives where we wake, eat, work, eat, work, go home – so our needs are of the moment, multi-occurring, paused and picked up as we juggle the multiple demands of daily life. The person who jumps into the shower, only to realise they are out of shampoo, uses voice to activate a home device reminder. Later that day, that same need reappears as they build their shopping list on their phone – whilst commuting or on their computer between meetings. Actions are processed, paused, reactivated and actioned at key micro-moments – the anticipation of those needs is the core to brand success.

Data protection and GDPR

Finally, and unsurprisingly, data and GDPR was a hot topic of discussion. When following a customer-centric approach, the protection and analysis of data must be combined in order to anticipate user behaviour without crossing a line. When the panellists of the ‘Age of the Costumer’ session were asked how they are protecting their customers from the excessive invasion of personal data,  no clear answer emerged.

Where you have home devices listening in to personal family conversations, do these families realise how much data is being collected, how rich this data is, and how easy it is for machine learning to process this data? These questions are going to be with us for a while and will develop as technology develops. With questions raised but not resolved, this is a debate for the future.


DMEXCO was insightful, it answered a lot of questions and raised many more. Time will tell what changes will come next; however we can be certain that there are lots of exciting updates on the horizon. To keep up to date with the latest in digital marketing, sign up for our Digital Digest newsletter, or if you want to talk to one of our team, contact us.

by Croud
18 September 2018



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