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DMEXCO 2019: A Year of Trust for Advertising and Marketing

23 September 2019

HYGH recently attended DMEXCO, an annual digital business, marketing, and innovation conference held annually in Cologne. We staffed a cornerstone booth and had the opportunity to connect and network with people at the pinnacle of advertising and digital media.

It's a critical time for advertising - advertisers are seeking real ROI, and ad networks are grappling ad fraud. Consumers post-Cambridge Analytica Facebook scandal are increasingly unwilling to submit their data to marketers without something in return. Then there is the role of influencers and the impact of PR disasters like Fyre Festival.

With these issues in mind, this year's motto was "Trust In You" with many topics around the increasingly central role of trust in the relationships between users and consumers, as well as companies and their digital services. Ethical conduct is increasingly becoming an important factor for the European digital industry in competition with China and the USA. Companies are recognizing the need for technology to more clearly demonstrate it's benefits for people, while marketing has to respect privacy and focus on user interests.

IAB Europe opened DMEXCO revealing that programmatic spend is growing topping 16.7 billion euros ($18.4 billion) in 2018, more than a year since the arrival of General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR).

"Our industry needs society's trust that digitalization will benefit people. Companies are obliged to provide proof of this," says Dr Dominik Matyka, Chief Advisor of DMEXCO, in his opening speech. Keynote speaker Stephanie Buscemi, Chief Marketing Officer at Salesforce, spoke in her opening keynote about how marketers can build trust with their consumers in a world of permanent online availability:

"54% of consumers believe companies don't operate with their customers' best interests in mind. We have to establish a perfect harmony between privacy on the one hand and our personal experiences, on the other hand."

Is the Future Personalisation Without Data?

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Google's Matt Brittin discussed the opportunities and challenges of a privacy-first web for business and for advertising and the importance of using trust:

"Privacy and personalisation are essential and at the heart of sustaining the open web and the ecosystem that has given all of us these benefits."

He advised marketers to prepare for a world where you deliver personalisation without personal data.

Tech VC, former mentor to Mark Zuckerberg, and early Facebook investor Roger McNamee appeared with Dow Jones Chief Innovation Officer Edward Roussel, to discuss the mounting concerns over privacy, censorship and bias at big tech companies. He spoke of repeated attempts to raise the issues of data privacy with Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sanders in 2016:

"I thought there was a structural flaw in the business model of Facebook and the algorithms that were undermining civil rights and undermining democracy, and I was afraid they were the victim. It was only after three months of being told we're the platform, not a media company, I realised I needed to speak out."

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Since that time McNamee has written a book, Zucked. Waking Up to the Facebook Catastrophe.

Post-GDPR it's all about cookies

Mozilla's recently announced that Firefox on desktop and Android will — by default — block third-party tracking cookies. This is a major step in the company's privacy protection efforts and was a topic of conversation at DMEXCO.

David Clark, regional vice president of EMEA for NIelsen noted:

"With trust being one of the main themes at DMEXCO this year, it was no surprise to hear the word 'cookie-pocalypse' bouncing around the halls. The marketing industry is facing the challenges of a breaking measurement system. Consumers prefer ads that are tailored to their interests, their use of services, and their viewing and shopping habits, yet the use of cookies is sinking into decline. It's not an option to stand by and watch as cookies gradually disappear – taking access to valuable user interaction data with them. Marketers must take steps to find alternative means of measurement, and forging strategic partnerships will ensure they are in a stronger position to maintain an effective measurement strategy into the future."

Changes to cookies raise questions about how programmatic advertising will operate in the future - both in terms of function and evaluation. What's clear is that content owners and publishers will be looking for new ways to monetize their inventory as cookies decline.

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This was HYGH's first attendance at DMEXCO and was a fantastic opportunity to meet new people, find out industry trends, and build new relationships. We look forward to returning next year.

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