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Managing Director DACH | Industry Predictions

A Programmatic Insider’s Run-Down in the Run-Up to Dmexco 2018

It’s that time of year again as the digital media world revs us for yet another edition of DMEXCO. This tenth edition will once again bring together some of the biggest experts in the digital field. As someone with a pulse on the programmatic side of the industry, here’s my run-down of the hot topics that will be on everyone’s lips at this year’s conference. Under a motto that is inspired by the digital ecosystems awareness of user needs – Take C.A.R.E (stands for Curiosity, Action, Responsibility, Experience) – the monolith that is the online media industry continues to grow. Media ad spend is predicted to rise to 628.63 billion dollars in 2018. This corresponds to an increase of 7.4% worldwide. Currently, the digital piece accounts for 43.5% of that total spend due to rising global e-commerce spend and the shift from traditional television viewership to digital channels. By 2020, the share of digital advertising will be almost 50%. With an outlook like that one thing is for sure, this industry and this year’s DMEXCO will keep us on our feet!


Multi Header Bidding


As in past years, header bidding continues to be a trending topic. By now, it’s a fully established trading method and has become the favourite programmatic setup for publishers. Now that setup is being expanded to seemingly ensure all demand is connected. Technically, this should be done with just one SSP. In reality, however, we’re seeing header bidding being run on multiple SSPs, with additional budgets finding their way to publishers. Initially, there was one SSP in the header that allowed all programmatic demand to compete with direct campaigns in the ad server and Google AdX. Then additional SSPs started being added to the header as client-side connections. Today, we’ve seen the rise of server-to-server solutions, allowing the addition of multiple SSPs via one technology. In this case, more or less the same SSPs are connected via e.g. Google’s EBDA or Amazon’s TAM. That means publishers can increase advertising revenue with minimal effort. Keeping an overview, however, is a challenge (see next paragraph). New in header bidding is the expansion to video and in-app inventory. The setup there is dominated by ad networks, so far. Header Bidding will quickly find its place here and bring all demand into competition.


Analytics & AI


As more SSPs and exchanges are plugged into the programmatic auction, it will become increasingly more important to have a detailed analysis of bid structures and revenue potential for publishers. Analytics is moving beyond post-processing towards being predictive. With the help of machine learning or AI, we are passing the point of simply recommendations for maximising revenue but moving to a place where the AI is capable of optimising settings and executing changes in real-time. On the advertiser side, data analytics is moving forward too. The classic Customer Relationship Management (CRM) has now been supplemented by Customer Data Platforms (CDP). The two tools differ in that CRMs are limited to the tracking of already known customers, whereas a CDP also identifies and tracks anonymous visits across all channels. Optimally positioned is who uses both systems. On the publisher as well as the advertiser side, an important topic of discussion for DMEXCO is: which analytic tool is the best way to keep an overview and to optimise results.




An absolute hot topic. The industry currently seems to me to be split on the subject of Blockchain: some believe passionately in the revolutionary power of the decentralized system, which will ensure transparency, security and faster payments in the digital advertising world; the others see blockchain as a useful invention, but less helpful for advertising. Personally, I believe in it. However, it will take some time before blockchain becomes common practice. What will have to be in place first are the technical requirements for scalability for fast transactions and compliance with GDPR. Currently, many companies are starting to change the industry from different perspectives with their blockchain solutions. It will be interesting to see which ones succeed.




Now that the dust has settled on the GDPR introduction in May, there’s a new kid in town in terms of privacy legislation. A big topic for discussion at this year’s DMEXCO will be the forthcoming new ePrivacy regulation, which is equally causing the industry to sweat. It will replace the old ePrivacy directive of 2002. The aim is to ensure the confidentiality of electronic communications throughout Europe and to regulate the handling of personal data in the online area. If it enters into force in its current form, the ePrivacy regulation will mean a fundamental threat to the online advertising market. Specifically, this includes the setting of cookies: without user consent, the only cookies that can be activated are ones that don’t affect user privacy, making retargeting much more difficult. But ePrivacy will affect many other areas, such as data collection by third-party companies, which will be a blow to many players in the market. When and how exactly the new guidelines will come into force is still unclear, but the industry should start preparing. Preparations currently include the introduction of Consent Management Tools (CMP), contextual or semantic targeting.


Programmatic everywhere


Users are everywhere across the digital landscape, accessing it from multiple devices. It’s a great opportunity for advertisers to target them throughout the customer journey. That’s bringing programmatic into the mainstream in all disciplines. Driven by relevance, scalability and efficiency, long gone are the days of programmatic trading being limited to display, and we’re seeing ever newer channels traded programmatically such as voice assistants, digital out-of-home or addressable TV and even classic advertising channels such as radio. Addressable advertising today still complements classic media plans, since as of today it’s only possible to target a percentage of any target group this way. But, even still, addressable advertising activities already have a positive effect on overall advertising impact and are ideally synchronized across disciplines in real time. In areas such as TV and out-of-home, it will take some time before programmatic becomes standard. That’s not stopping all areas of the industry, meaning supply, demand and technologies, from working intensely to implement programmatic on all channels. It is important that agencies and advertisers are informed, so that all stakeholders are aware of the opportunities that programmatic offers. DMEXCO is the ideal place to learn and interact with other market participants.


Data, data, data


Data fuels programmatic advertising. Since the introduction of the GDPR, that’s never been clearer. Data, especially first-party data, significantly improves the quality of targeting. To make targeting even more effective, buyers are requiring publishers to leverage their data in order to personally reach the user along the customer journey in our multi-screen world. All of this has to be done in compliance with GDPR and you have to be able to rely on your data technology partners. Consent management platforms and customer data platforms make it easier for tech providers, publishers and advertisers to orchestrate ever-increasing data streams. Technically, more and more data is available. The challenge is to meaningfully combine the ever-increasing number of 1st, 2nd, 3rd, on- and offline data and manage individually relevant messages across media and in real time. We will certainly see and hear much about this hot topic at DMEXCO.


One thing is for sure – this industry never stands still. Meaning, I’ll definitely be looking forward to hearing more on the latest, up-coming digital media trends at DMEXCO 2018!

As managing director of DACH for Improve Digital, Torben is responsible for overseeing the German, Austrian and Swiss markets for the company and helping its premium publishers benefit from programmatic advertising by automating sales for video, mobile, in-app, and display.   Prior to joining Improve Digital in 2012, Torben built his career in online marketing and the online publishing industries by serving in a variety of digital sales, marketing and management roles at AOL/Compuserve, TradeDoubler, Deutsche Bank and PAYBACK.   Torben is a regular speaker at international industry conferences such as DMEXCO, d3con and regularly contributes blog articles to industry publications such as Adzine, Horizont and Internetworld Business.