ICYMI: The four biggest trends from DMEXCO 2018

by John Watton

Posted on 09-17-2018

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.

Topics: Digital Transformation, artificial intelligence, customer experience, digital marketing, DMEXCO2018, programmatic marketing, retail experience, Voice Assistants, UK, UK Exclusive, Digital EMEA