Mid-September, a big part of the online media world travels to Cologne for the largest digital marketing expo of the year. The annual event with 40,000 visitors is next to a networking event where you can meet a lot of people in a short time, also a conference where online companies present themselves. The trends and future of the digital marketing landscape are explained in panels, seminars and keynotes. CEOs, CMOs, "Heads of Everything" or "Global Innovation Evangelists" speak out and curious visitors indulge in their statements and predictions about an AI driven (eris weather) world.
But what were the striking marketing statements and predictions? They weren't there! The theme of the event was "trust" so many sessions were about consumer confidence, trust in umfeld / adfraud, hackers and cyber security, brand safety, GDPR and cookies, blockchain. All of them are quite technical subjects that basically marketing is not really about. All of these topics seem to confirm in particular that online marketing has arrived at a certain turning point where nobody really has the idea where it is going from now on. All media are digital, monopoly positions of big (brother) tech, cookies that are worth less, and the lack of a cross-media standard identifier that is also AVG proof. If the destination is unknown, it will of course remain exciting and that will feed innovation.
The innovations were discussed about the emergence of audio (podcasts), voice activated advertising, Connected TV and the continuous growth of video consumption, but many of these innovations are still relatively in their infancy and mostly about the technical hurdles that must be taken to to be able to exploit and measure. Few stories were heard from brands that had fully embraced a technology or at least were going to give it a chance in the coming year. So few cool cases.
AR in display
When we look at Rich Media, AR and VR seems like a logical innovation to take steps in the display area. Although technically there are still some technically obstacles to make a smooth experience possible in a web experience, it is a challenge that we will certainly take on in the coming period. In the “Unseen Reality” session on the application of AR and VR, the panel (with, among other things, Unity's head of adsales as an important development platform) mainly noted that brands do want to be budgeted but often the problem is in addition to planning. Brands do not really dare to invest an amount because they do not know what it yields and because they are not used to what kind of stories they have to tell with an AR experience, it is especially difficult at the moment. What a disappointment! Brands should embrace innovations and reserve an important part of their budget for such innovation.No guts no glory ! Without innovation no Spinawards with webGL banners or groundbreaking AR experiences.
The range in tech was also overwhelming on the exhibition floor. All tech vendors were there, but when we look at large media agencies (collected in the "world of agencies"), there were a handful, alongside many local German young agencies. The publisher hall was even only 2/3 full. The tech market and publisher market is consolidating through takeovers and that can be seen on the expo floor and if the brands are not invited by their absent agencies then the gap between marketing and tech naturally remains. A new opportunity next year.
If we are allowed to make a prediction for 2020, then we will use display-related innovation for AR-related technologies and we would like to help brands that are serious about it. Let's hope that next year these and other innovative brand cases will be the cherries on the DMEXCO cake.