If there has been one take away from DMEXCO 2018, it’s that the line between marketing and technology has officially disappeared. Tens of thousands of attendees descended on Cologne for this year’s event. Yes, to learn about new technologies, but also to understand how they can be combined with creativity and customer-centric processes to deliver better digital experiences.
Instead of asking “which programmatic software do I buy?” or “who makes the best data management platform”, brands are asking themselves a far more important and relevant question:
“How can we better understand our customers and use that knowledge to differentiate ourselves with incredible experiences?”
This wasn’t the only trend to come out of DMEXCO of course. Here is my take on the four hottest topics from this year’s conference:
Trend 1: This is the age of experience-driven business
The word “experience” could be heard everywhere at DMEXCO, from the main stage to the breakout areas. It was the theme of the moment, and will be the theme of the year ahead.
My take: Marketers and IT professionals alike are showing an appreciation for personalisation and customer-centricity, which marks a major shift for a conference that used to be all about technology. It’s also a sign of shifting sands in the industry as a whole. Brands no longer just sell products or services. They sell experiences that require deeper customer understanding, the ability to turn that understanding into insight, and the capacity to feed this insight into creative experience-driven campaigns.
Trend 2: Ready or not, AI is here
As often happens when a technology is in vogue, some attendees would argue DMEXCO over-indexed on artificial intelligence (AI). It was almost impossible to find a session that didn’t mention AI in some capacity. Whether or not this was overkill, there’s no doubt brands are actively exploring the opportunities AI brings, especially when it comes to speeding up time-consuming processes.
My take: We know AI helps both marketers and IT professionals reduce their administrative burden so they can focus on value-driving tasks, be it a creative campaign idea or an innovative delivery model. But that’s only half the story. As Adobe’s own Suresh Vittal said on stage, AI isn’t just for number crunching, it also helps brands fuel their creativity. For example, we demoed AI software that understands the intent of a simple design sketch and can help designers then turn this into a fully developed piece of creative content in just minutes.
Trend 3: From one-way voice to digital dialogue
The growing popularity of personal assistants like Siri and Alexa has forced brands to rethink the way consumers interact with different kinds of channels. Attendees were particularly keen to understand how voice content can be factored into their customer profiles and used to further personalise their digital experiences.
My take: Voice is a relatively new frontier for advertisers, but its rise has been quick and the medium will only become more popular. The first step is to ensure you can understand voice-based commands and content, but the real value will come when brands start to use voice in both directions, delivering experiences back to customers either through their own channels or by adding APIs onto popular third-party voice assistants.
Trend 4: Retailers are embracing digital
It’s been a tough year for retailers, not just in Germany but across Europe. Major high-street shops continue to shut their doors, while others are trying to fend off competition from highly successful online-only businesses. Appetite for innovative ecommerce models has never been higher among established players in the retail industry.
My take: This was the first year we attended DMEXCO in partnership with Magento, and the discussions we had on the ground made it clear retailers are serious about change. Brands have moved past fact-finding mode and are now implementing new ways of working. In fact, throughout the two days of DMEXCO, attendees showed they have a clear mandate to bring about change and reclaim their position in the market.
Looking ahead, marketing and IT teams are only going to work more closely together. Digital experiences are not optional, they are the norm, and an experience-driven business needs to deliver the perfect marriage of innovation and a human touch to deliver digital experiences that hit the mark.
Click here to see how Adobe is helping companies across every industry, from retail to financial services, through this digital transformation so they can tackle change head on.