Last week’s dmexco exhibition and conference in Cologne attracted more than 40,000 visitors and 1100 exhibitors to discuss the latest developments in digital marketing and ad tech. Paul Snell reports on the topics trending on the show floor
If you had thought the ad tech industry might have been slightly chastened by the
barrage of negative headlines
that came its way in the first six months of the year, dmexco would swiftly disabuse you of this notion. Six cavernous halls chock full of exhibition stands, with some you couldn’t get close to, such was the interest they were generating among the crowds flocking to the expo.
Away from the exhibition, more than 500 speakers shared their thoughts on the biggest trends and challenges facing the industry. Here’s a round-up of six things you should be aware of:
1. Marketers need a new approach to attribution
Everyone knows customer journeys (particularly in B2B) are more complex than ever, but according to new research presented at the conference by AdRoll which surveyed almost 1000 marketers, more than half are still using a first or last click model to measure contribution to ROI. Three-quarters of marketers still think first/last click models are effective, but if you’re using this data to optimise your campaigns you’re actually ignoring 65% of the touchpoints in the customer journey and putting your money into pushing people over the line rather than nurturing them.
It’s better to come up with an incremental model – which is tough – but understands how each touchpoint contributes to conversion. “There is no 100% bulletproof attribution model,” said Shane Murphy, VP marketing at AdRoll, “But incrementally is the ideal way.”
A real-world example of this was provided by Kristian Lorenzon, head of social media at O2, who explained the firms attempt to track attribution via Facebook which previously had been done on a “very inefficient” last touch model which missed around 90% of impressions.
Understanding the social media platform’s position in the customer journey, which was predominantly in the middle rather than at the bottom of the sales funnel, helped the firm understand the true cost-per-acquisition fell by 92% putting it in line with paid search.
2. Brand experience is the key differentiator for customers
study conducted by Adobe and Goldsmiths University of London
found half of consumers would be prepared to buy products from an unknown brand if they provided a superior experience.
According to David Burnand, director of enterprise marketing EMEA at Adobe, this is beginning to happen in B2B too. “We’re already starting to see this in lower value transactions, and this will spread up the value chain,” he said.
The explosion of digital has changed everything, and customer experience is now what sets your business apart. But, says Suresh Vittal, Adobe’s vice president of products and platforms, these experiences must be adaptable and intelligent. And advances in both artificial intelligence and machine learning should make this easier for marketers. Great experiences have to be delivered at the right moment, and you need to be able to execute them at both speed and scale. The data behind this is crucial, and then AI can help marketers to “master the millisecond”.
3. European marketers are just as unprepared for the arrival of GDPR
A straw poll conducted among dmexco delegates found more than half (51%) said their company was neither prepared nor sufficiently informed about the impact of the
forthcoming General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)
Speaking as part of a panel debate, Stephan Loerke, CEO of the World Federation of Advertisers, said: “It’s a candid response that reflects the reality of the businesses. Usually you would delegate legislation like this to the lawyers – but no lawyer’s going to solve it. You have to work together to devise a way to interface with consumers to drive consent.”
The primary concern among brands is how do they get consent from their audience. “We’ve lived in easy times,” he added. “Now we need to explain why we’re asking them to share the data, and need to consider the value exchange. For future interaction to be sustainable, people need to understand what’s happening to their data.”
4. The race is on in the B2B e-commerce world
It’s not a shock to learn B2B has some way to catch up with B2C when it comes to delivering e-commerce experiences. But it also means there’s a great opportunity for brands willing to grasp the nettle.
Johann Jenson, global head of digital customer experience at the German power tool manufacturer Hilti, said: “What we’re seeing in B2B is the ecosystem is fragmented. Rather than a sales person going to a company to make a big order, they’re now going to individuals. It’s not just one key account – it’s 56 relationships that’s going to give us a result.”
And although B2B brands have moved past the idea that e-commerce is simply an online catalogue, the web can offer so many different experiences and marketers need to explain to product managers how they can market their products effectively this way. To implement e-commerce successfully, you need to convince those middle managers “who’ve been doing it for 40 years” it’s not a threat but an opportunity says Alexander Ketzler, MD at the office supplies business Certeo.
In any discussion of e-commerce, the behemoth that is Amazon lurks in the background. The launch of Amazon Business in 2015 highlights the firm’s intentions in this area, and B2B marketers should be wary says Johann.
“Companies will need to decide if they’re in the high-end or convenience space – because Amazon are in convenience,” he says. “These guys know what they’re doing and you need to know how you’ll differentiate yourself.”
5. Digital assistants are rewriting the rules around SEO
There’s no doubt voice search is going to shake up traditional search marketing practices. By 2020 half of all searches will be voice or image-based, and more than half the dmexco audience think voice search is the most exciting future search trend.
But at the moment there’s not a huge amount of information out there on how brands can ‘win’ at voice search as they can in page ranking. And it’s even more vital to be ahead of the competition as when you search with a digital assistant such as Amazon’s Alexa or Apple’s Siri, you only get one result rather than a whole page on a traditional search.
But according to Aoife McIlraith, director of global search and marketing service at Lionbridge, just 6-7% of brands currently recognise voice search as an exciting prospect. This generates a huge opportunity for those that are interested.
From the analysis and testing Lionbridge has done, it appears digital assistants prioritise rich snippets (reading out pertinent paragraphs of text), lists of information, tables of information, and video (“here is a video”).
6. Ad transparency is all about attitude
The questions around a lack of trust and transparency around practices and metrics appears to have actually emboldened rather than cowed ad tech vendors, with many using dmexco as an opportunity to enthusiastically plug their above-board credentials.
Even Facebook used the show
to announce a raft of new standards
governing how ads on the social media platform are served against content, more detailed information for advertisers about where their content was served, and new standards of how creators can earn money against their content.
“All this discussion is a sign of the maturing of the industry,” says Sacha Berlik, managing director, EMEA at ad tech business The Trade Desk. With global digital ad spend anticipated to reach in excess of $300 billion by 2021, CMOs want to know the money is being spent wisely.
For Sacha there are three main issues around transparency: Marketplace quality (are ads really reaching the intended targets?); The evolution of agency models (agencies have had to move away from traditional percentage-based remuneration models that are unsustainable in the digital era), and; Ad tech schizophrenia (tech providers often have dual roles to satisfy both publishers and advertisers which can possibly create conflicts of interest).
But the industry is committed to tackling these problems, which is putting pressure on the market to become more transparent as a whole. “The currency of leadership in this industry is transparency,” he said.
The world of programmatic remains one of mystery for many B2B marketers – but it needn’t be this way. As an increasing number of B2B brands tap into the potential that programmatic advertising has to offer, marketers need to ensure they know what it is, what it can do, how they can benefit, and what the pitfalls are.