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The download from DMEXCO 2023: three key takeaways


Kirsty Langan

Published On:

September 21, 2023

Published In:

Industry Events & Webinars

The download from DMEXCO 2023: three key takeaways 

With more than 650 exhibitors and 700 global speakers taking part this year, DMEXCO remains one of the key events in the digital advertising industry calendar.

The Cologne conference continues to evolve every year following its first all-digital edition in 2020. This year we saw more localised sessions exploring trends for the German market, as well as new pre-conference and off-site events that created valuable opportunities for networking outside the packed Koelnmesse halls.

Turning to the topics high on the agenda, here is the GingerMay download on the key themes and trends covered at DMEXCO 2023:

AI innovators will see rich rewards

Debates about whether humans and machines can work harmoniously together are far from new. As generative artificial intelligence (AI) advances steam ahead, it’s no surprise this question is again dominating discussions at DMEXCO — especially given this year’s theme of empowering digital creativity. 

According to Nestlé’s global Chief Marketing Officer, Aude Gandon, the best way forward lies with a mindset adjustment. While marketers understand the close connection between art and science, many don’t necessarily appreciate that they are able to choose technologies that enhance their human creativity and productivity. For example, Nestlé is using its AI-powered ‘Creative X’ solution to streamline tasks such as large-scale media quality checks, allowing more time for crafting well-targeted and impactful ads with the result of up to 66% gains in ROI on Meta platforms. 

Microsoft Advertising’s European Vice President for Europe, Mascha Driessen also spoke about AI being the ultimate efficiency booster. During a joint session with Corporate Vice President and Technical Fellow, Saurabh Tiwary, Driessen explained how the latest iteration of Bing Chat will reduce lengthy purchase paths and aid decision-making by immediately directing users towards relevant resources, rather than providing plain text responses alone. Integrated with the new search engine, as well as Microsoft Office and Teams, new functionality will respond to queries with linked content and relevant product suggestions for users to explore.  

AI is clearly poised to play a significant role in marketing functions and audience interactions, and agile innovators will see the richest rewards. Google’s Gaurav Bhaya, Vice President and General Manager for Ads and Measurement summarised this: “You’re not competing against AI. You’re competing against other marketers who are using AI. The sooner you start practising and experimenting with AI, the greater the advantage you have.”

Ecommerce is ready for a new level of digitalisation   

How (as well as what) consumers buy is another key area experiencing significant change as digital transformation reshapes shopping norms and purchasing priorities shift, particularly in the current climate. While worldwide ecommerce revenues have stayed relatively strong despite economic challenges, DMEXCO’s halls were filled with buzz around the steps payment providers, and brands, can take to support consumers grappling with not only fast-changing shopping needs, but also the ongoing cost of living challenges.

Tipped as one of the top German start-ups to watch, disruptive fintech firm Billie returned for its second year of championing buy-now-pay-later solutions, winning keen interest from retail sector businesses. Whether supporting tighter purse strings or meeting consumer desire to try out products and services before they purchase, these types of offerings are emerging as  key in ensuring a flexible, convenient, frictionless digital shopping experience..

Presenting an even bolder vision for the future of ecommerce was the conference’s first ‘Phygital Network’, centred around present and upcoming fashion trends. In collaboration with the Deutsches Mode-Institut (DMI) and German Association for the Digital Economy (BVDW), talks, demos, and exhibits illustrated how digital innovations can help fashion retailers address challenges with their supply chains and find new sales channels. Ever-increasing expectations of brand ethics from consumers was addressed on two  fronts: evolving how physical garments are produced to minimise carbon emissions and developing entirely virtual clothing. 

Covering 3D garment models, NFTs, and intelligent factory systems, Tech Stage presentations from Microsoft, Snap, Otto, and Hohenstein presented exciting possibilities for tech to revolutionise fashion products and processes, making them a better fit for today’s shoppers and the planet. 

Sustainability requires more than lip service 

On both the Agency and Media Stages, speakers emphasised how brands and businesses needed to walk the walk when it comes to social and environmental responsibility. In particular, Sarah Mooslechner, Head of Strategy and Social Media at The&Partnership Germany pointed out consumers’ inclination to hold brands accountable to their claims.

Demonstrating credible progress towards sustainability and D&I goals is now a crucial priority. What’s more, these goals are becoming a factor in the decision-making process for digital marketing operations. With customers expecting more from brands, in turn brands are expecting marketing partners to support them in achieving their ambitions. From working with underrepresented talent in the creator industry to minimising wasted spend in ad campaigns, marketers are changing their approaches to drive industry change. Notably, the conference highlighted the need for accessible data that can inform environmentally conscious decisioning and monitor continual improvement.

From how AI is gearing up to empower marketers and usher in an era of smarter creativity, to how wider digital advances reconfigure shopping norms and ad delivery to minimise environmental impact, this year’s DMEXCO kept up a long tradition of hitting the trends that matter to marketers right now, as well as embracing the need for continued evolution. We look forward to our next trip to Cologne and seeing what’s in store at DMEXCO 2024!

Want to find out how we can build your profile as a thought leader on industry topics like those discussed at DMEXCO? Reach out on to discuss our services.

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