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How Cologne Became The Epicentre Of Global Ad-tech

Improve Digital, Staff Blog, Blog, Tech company, Programmatic

Nowhere else do we get the opportunity to connect and collaborate with so many peers at one time; it should be an incredible two days.

Move over London, New York and San Francisco: the largest media event in the world is not happening in the usual hot spots – it’s taking place in Germany early next month. The media, marketing and technology worlds will converge on Cologne for what is to be the biggest DMEXCO yet. Up to 30,000 attendees will join more than 450 industry leaders and thinkers to discuss the forces shaping the digital economy. What began as a regional internet advertising trade show has grown into a truly global media and technology juggernaut on the annual event calendar.

Big players like IBM, Google, and Facebook are all set to take centre stage, and focused technology and service providers like Improve Digital will be there in force. But ‘technology’ as a theme will not be limited to traditional tech players. DMEXCO’s theme for 2014 is “Entering New Dimensions,” and digital media is doing just that, with the share of ads bought programmatically estimated to reach up to 75% of total digital display advertising by 2017 (Source: IAB). Programmatic is the order of the day, so technology and data themes will be pervasive from brands such as Nestle and Mondelez, to media owners like Huffington Post and Bauer, on to agency players like GroupM to Dentsu Aegis.

The programmatic market has reached critical mass more quickly than many imagined, and it is reshaping the advertising landscape. As a result, traditional identities and barriers are falling away, and lines are blurring. Major advertisers such as P&G and Kellogg’s are taking direct control over trading platforms; Mondelez recently stated intentions to buy all online video inventory programmatically, bypassing its media agency; GroupM has transformed itself into something more like an ad technology company than an agency; and publishers like Conde Nast are increasingly offering creative services to marketers, edging into creative agency turf. You’ll see these blurred lines manifest in big ways and small throughout this year’s event.

Just as Cannes Lions has been overrun by tech companies in recent years, DMEXCO can, and should, see the reverse trend – attracting a number of creative agency execs as they try to get to grips with shifting trends in advertising economics. Unlike Cannes, however, you won’t be spending your days schmoozing and building your tan on the beach.

DMEXCO is where business actually gets done. Savvy attendees can have half a year’s work sewn up over two days. But some words of advice; make appointments before you go, and leave a half day free for all the new connections you make. And yes, there is fun to be had. Wednesday night’s OM Club – the DMEXCO party – is a truly surreal experience. It has no equal at any other trade event I’ve ever been to. Take that as both encouragement and as a warning!

Nowhere else do we get the opportunity to connect and collaborate with so many peers at one time; it should be an incredible two days.  And speaking of connecting and collaborating:  don’t forget to drop by the Improve Digital booth for a drink! You can find us in Hall 8, Booth E040 – I look forward to seeing you there.  

This blog first appeared on Campaign magazine. 

Joelle is CEO and co-founder of Improve Digital. Since its founding in 2008, Joelle has led the company through a period of tremendous growth, seeing it emerge as a market leader in programmatic advertising.   Joelle is a thought leader within the technology and online advertising industry, sought after as a speaker and commentator on topics ranging from entrepreneurship, digital marketing technology, and media revenue strategies. She is a guest lecturer on the MBA Entrepreneurship course at IESE Business School, and is also an active board and committee member, affiliated with regional and global organisations such as Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB).   Prior to Improve Digital Joelle spent many years as a director at Microsoft, where she launched and oversaw Microsoft’s private advertising network in the EMEA region. Prior to Microsoft, with support from Nickelodeon and Isobar, Joelle initiated one of the very first social media start-ups, which was later sold to media giant Sanoma. Very early in her career, she worked with KLM, and it was here that her passion for yield and revenue management was born.