Takeaways from Dmexco 2018


It’s the week post-DMEXCO and the Smartologists are back in London. Tired yet energised still by the buzz that fuelled two full days of productive meetings, fascinating discussions, multiple debate and showcase stages, a start-up village, tv-set interviews, and so much more. Though far from complete, here are few key topics and takeaways from DMEXCO 2018.


A far cry from Cannes Festival of Creativity 2018, where not even a whisper of ‘GDPR’ could be heard, there were many talks and seminars here geared towards GDPR and the upcoming ePrivacy law that will be coming into play in 2019. Not only that, it also seems the fear of non-compliance so prevalent a few months ago has been replaced with a better understanding of GDPR compliance and an acceptance that the industry, digital, and audiences are changing.


Indeed, Marci McCue, one of the founding members of Flipboard, spoke of the brands that did well on their platform and underlined their focus on knowing who their audiences are, what they were interested in and why, and how their content can best serve them. In this sense, it’s not so much about simply building your brand and its story but about really understanding what your brand’s value proposition to its audience is and why. Once you understand that, it’s easier to deliver the message to the intended people in a way that works for them as well as for the brand.


In a similar vein, Nikki Mendonca, head of Accenture Interactive Operations, spoke of the necessity for leaders to come to grips with their tech and especially understand how AI is working with and utilising data. There was a pervasive feeling throughout the convention that in order to level out the playing field with the likes of Google, Facebook, and Amazon, companies will have to rely on AI to drive growth. This can still be done in a transparent and trustworthy way, but to do so you must understand the tech and how it processes data.


With new technology being introduced and implemented every day, it can be overwhelming. Here are a few key points on where to begin when it comes to new technology and AI:

  • Test new technologies out – this was a key argument I heard over the course of a few talks. There are thousands of tech providers already out there (and anyone who attended DMEXCO should know this!). Leaders must not shy away from them but instead try them out, learn about them and invest in them. Don’t be fearful of bringing on an automated workforce – adapt and invest in staff training, and find better ways to utilise that human perspective that machines don’t have
  • “Make sure your data is clean, because if you’re not already checking then it’s probably not” – this is something that stuck with me and I found to be particularly interesting in the wake of GDPR. The need to combat untrustworthy sources, and having clean data that has been consented to is gaining momentum. Hopefully, this will lead to a more open and trusting relationship between consumers and businesses
  • Make sure your data-pool is large, diverse and inclusive. The more limited the data, the less accurate and misrepresentative your insights will be. Christine Removille, Global President at Carat, made this excellent point: “The digital economy is probably going to drive the future and bring prosperity, unless diversity is excluded from digital advancements”. The best way to do this is:
    • Ensure these values are embedded in your company culture and all staff members are always thinking of this; from engineers, to strategists, to customer facing employees – as long as this is engrained within, it will be easier to work towards and flag discrepancies
    • Making sure your hiring policies reflect these values: the more diverse and inclusive you are when hiring staff, the better your own internal insights and perspectives will be


Another great point was made by Max Conze, CEO at ProSiebenSat.1 Media SE in his talk about transformation in a disruptive age, which was: know the future. I know that sounds crazy – how can you know the future?! – but hear him out. Surround yourself with young people and you will know what the future will look like. Look at what they are reading, watching, listening to and focus on how they are going about doing all of this. That is what their generation will leverage off of and continue to develop once they join the workforce. Dominique Delport from VICE Media reiterated this idea of finding inspiration in the younger generation: they are the future and they will be the ones innovating the practices, products, technologies etc, that they use now; by refusing or failing to adapt to them now, you will be wrong and you will fail.

Finally, and I will leave you with this: think globally, adapt to locality.



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