DMEXCO 2019: at the heart of marketing | Blog

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The best of global marketing gathered in Cologne for DMEXCO 2019, including leading brands and agencies. I was lucky enough to attend the event which, over the years, has become more than just a trade show; but rather a forum for ideas and innovation.

When entering the huge and busy exposition centre, there was a sense of chaos; an organised chaos as I would come to realise. Three sectors of the media industry were represented:

  • adtech (Oracle, Adobe, SAP, Salesforce, IBM)
  • ecommerce (Shopify)
  • publishing platforms (Twitch, Spotify, Snap, FB)

With over 1000 brands exhibiting, brands were competing to get visitors’ attention (nothing new in the world of marketing, you might say). So if you are thinking of exhibiting, take advice from Snap: “go big or stay home”.

The conferences were insightful, with very exciting opportunities ahead, and some rather concerning prospects too. Here are some thoughts on what I consider to be the highlights from DMEXCO 2019:

The cookie crumbles

Amex Phil Wilson (SVP Digital Demand Generation)

Following on new GDPR regulations and stricter data restrictions, marketers are now faced with a crumbling cookie issue as Google updates its Chrome privacy terms, resulting in even less data being available. Phil Wilson helped us understand what a digital world without the cookie might look like, from the end of programmatic, to more direct requests for data and tailored ad content.

Data marketing in question

Arun Kumar (Chief Data and Technology Officer IPG)

In the same panel, Arun Kumar from IPG stressed just how much data-driven marketing has become a reality. New companies burn out a lot faster, from not grasping data reality. Companies now need to turn the claims that have come out of data-driven marketing into a reality. For this reason, the modern marketer’s focus is a lot more on objectives, and on consolidating data to meet these objectives.

Disconnect Gen Z


With Gen Z spending 6 hours on average connected, it’s no surprise that disconnection has turned into an opportunity. Attest, a growth platform, gave an interesting talk about how Gen Z’s addiction to social media could represent an opportunity for brands to help them disconnect, through the promotion of real world experiences, or the introduction of Gen Z targeted mindfulness apps.

Dinosaurs and unicorns

Martin Sorrell

An interesting talk from Sir Martin Sorrell, who, having built the “largest” agency group now proclaims that it’s not fit for purpose anymore. So he’s set on doing it all over again, but better this time. His ambition is to be digital-only and present in 25 countries rather than the 100+ in the WPP of old. He claims that it was too hard to restructure WPP as a public company (not surprising considering how outdated the network-agency model has become). He’s a very convincing salesman, but will his new incarnation last the test of time?

Snap convos

Jeff Miller – Snap, The New Creative 

Amongst all the clatter by the tech firms about how creative is a thing of the past, this was an inspiring presentation from the global creative director at Snap. Whether or not you like, or use Snapchat, it’s certainly tapped into the needs of Gen Z. I especially enjoyed how Jeff explained the power of the platform – it’s about making communication more ephemeral – like a verbal conversation.  When it’s over, it’s over; all that’s left is your memory and your feelings.

AI goes global

Kantar, Predicting Ad Performance Globally Using AI 

In this conference from Kantar, we learnt how they are attempting to use “big data” and algorithms to help predict whether a creative from one market can travel across markets; all backed up by a Coca Cola case study. This seems like a very expensive way to assess cultural relevance – at Freedman, we can do this quicker and probably more accurately, thanks to our global creative talent ecosystem.

Beyond Gaming

Walker Jacobs SVP @Twitch, Gamers Are Not a Niche Audience 

A fascinating talk from Twitch on how powerful the platform has become, especially in engaging the global gamer tribe. The recent Porsche Secrets Room “advert” was an incredible use of the platform. It will be interesting to see how Twitch can create new communities outside of the gaming world, as it looks to expand its reach.

Democracy and Choice

Roger McNamee

This was my favourite talk. Roger McNamee is an American fund manager and venture capitalist who has made investments in, among others, Electronic Arts, Sybase, Palm Inc and Facebook. In 2004, along with Bono and others, he co-founded Elevation Partners, a private equity firm. He has recently published Zucked: Waking Up To The Facebook Catastrophe. Read this article from the Guardian to learn why he’s become an anti-Facebook/Google/Amazon crusader. It’s truly worrying stuff, especially since he told us that Google want to make everything efficient and the two most inefficient things in their eyes are democracy and choice…

To wrap up

DMEXCO certainly did live up to the hype as it celebrated its 10th anniversary. If you’re looking for another event to learn more about the state of global marketing, why not sign up to the Global Marketers’ Club for regular events, insights and content.

Stay tuned