Coming up for air after my first Dmexco

While I’m not a newcomer to the world of advertising technology, my focus has always been on what it can do for the broadcaster. My time at ITV - the UK’s largest public commercial broadcaster –  would have, I thought, given me a broad view of the ad tech industry. However after my first visit to Dmexco it now feels as though broadcasters are rowing around the tip of a gigantic iceberg, totally unaware of how deep it goes.

Not only did I see hundreds of companies, each claiming to do different things, I’ve found that they’re talking an entirely different language to the one I’m accustomed to (and no, it wasn’t German!). This makes it a confusing environment for those on the outside or new to the industry. In part, this appears to be driven by the fact that the industry has grown rapidly over a very short time period, leading to a highly fragmented ecosystem. But it’s also caused by the fact that every company is struggling to differentiate themselves and be heard over the noise. 

I can’t help but compare Dmexco to my recent experience at another major European trade show - the International Broadcasting Convention (IBC) in Amsterdam. This happened just a few days before Dmexco and believe it or not, it’s even larger! IBC sports a wide variety of companies offering the full range of Broadcast Tech products and solutions. There’s a lot of hardware on display; everything from different types of cameras, to full TV studio setups, to cabling and rigging, to satellite trucks, to drones, to Segway steady-cams, to massive “ultra HD HDR” TV screens. But there’s also a lot of software and digital technology: editing tools, CGI, post-production, media management, transcoding and playout. 

The digital side of the TV industry, whilst relatively new, has still been around for a lot longer than ad tech. And for that reason it’s also much more consolidated, with major players offering full technology stacks to their customers, often opting to buy up smaller companies within a specific area, rather than develop their own products. 

This situation isn’t just limited to the technology, I can also see parallels with the advertiser buying model. In traditional linear TV there is effectively one buying model, the planned pre-bought system, which has evolved over many years. Digital video on the other hand is much more fragmented, with many different options available across the platforms. This can be very confusing to someone relatively new to the industry!

From the conversations I’ve had at my first Dmexco, it’s clear that fragmentation is a major issue in the ad tech industry. While fragmentation has already taken place, I expect the investment pouring into the industry to meet the needs of advertisers and broadcasters will result in acquisitions becoming a regular occurrence both from within and outside the industry. We’ve already begun seeing this with News Corp’s purchase of Unruly announced on the first day of the show here in Cologne.

The other major point of discussion at Dmexco, and within the industry as a whole, has been how to deal with non-human traffic and viewability. Again, this is not something that overly concerns broadcasters with their “ultra-premium” inventory. But with fraudulent and criminal activities costing the industry a great deal of money, it’s imperative that the online advertising ecosystem groups together to combat this.

I have very much enjoyed my first visit to Dmexco. It has proved to be a full-on two day immersion in discovering how Videology is helping its clients access and benefit from the full spectrum of services. This has been my first real deep dive into the world of ad tech, and I’m very much looking forward to seeing what 2016 will bring.

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