The view from DMEXCO 2018: today’s insights and tomorrow’s future

DMEXCO 2018 in Cologne certainly provided plenty of food for thought. Now in its tenth year, this global digital marketing expo and conference attracted a vibrant collection of decision makers, founders and senior executives. Around 41,000 visitors, over 1,000 exhibitors and more than 550 speakers created a stimulating atmosphere for anyone involved in the sector.

What were the topics on people’s minds? There was a general sentiment that the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) while solving one problem is exposing another. It has driven a widespread fascination with data-driven marketing as opposed to a more creative approach – one more focused on story-telling and strategies linked to the customer experience.

There is also a growing realisation that communication with people doesn’t have to be noisy, intrusive and repetitive. Just because big data and deep tech enables us to do things faster and cheaper, that doesn’t mean that’s necessarily the best way forward.

Another insight gained from DMEXCO is the anticipated return of ‘voice’ – whether in the form of chatbots, Alexa or genuine (non fake) artificial intelligence. We expect to see significant investment going into this space in the near future.

Investment in martech in general continues to grow – one of the trends we have identified in our latest martech report, due to be released later this month. Established marketers in disrupted industries, such as insurance and financial services, realise they need to invest if they are to future-proof themselves.

We’ve also seen that agencies are struggling to stay relevant. Marketers are seeking to build in-house strength and are set to spend more on martech to remain competitive. Their media budget will have to adjust accordingly, with a resounding (downward) impact on the value of media-centric agencies.

Finally, the representation of marketers on the boards of Fortune 1000 companies shows both the opportunity and the challenge for digital marketing. Globally, less than 5% of board positions are held by marketers – with some reports putting board-level participation at less than 1%. So although martech is being taken seriously in terms of investment, this is not resulting in a proportionate involvement of marketing experts at the most senior levels in business. Could this change? It stands to reason that, as brands set out to invest more in customer experience and to understand the ‘single customer view’, the role of the marketer should take on more importance.  

Our upcoming report, produced in conjunction with WARC, entitled 'Martech: 2019 and beyond' captures the size of the global martech market. To receive your copy, please register here.

To discuss any of the points in this article, please contact Damian Ryan.

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