What was the key takeaway from this year’s Dmexco, the digital marketing event? Its sheer scale. Hundreds of companies – many of which did not exist 10 years ago – frantically selling to 25,000 people doing jobs that didn’t exist back then either.
If any evidence was required that a communications revolution is well and truly underway, this was it. OK, there were no major surprises in the main conference itself. Content is still king. This is still the year of mobile. Big data is still the future, etc.
However, one line from the conference did stand out. Marc Pritchard from Procter & Gamble proclaimed ‘digital marketing is dead.’
Reviewing many of the conversations The Drum had on the exhibition floor, it is easy to appreciate what he meant.
For example Farzad Jamal of OpenX, the programmatic tech platform, told us how it has commissioned a study beyond the screen, which will look at how advertisers might be able to exploit opportunities emerging in the ‘internet of things’, including wearable technologies.
Meanwhile, Erich Wasserman of MediaMath described his vision for the future, which will see business take data from the showroom to the stockroom and adjust online media in real time. “The model of the future will be seamless,” he said, “data will be used across all business channels simultaneously.”
We spoke to Brian Wong of Kiip, the network that allows companies to target consumers when they are doing things they would be doing anyway – like offering a free film download when they have completed a task in a to-do list app, or offering a healthy drink when they have achieved the goals set in a fitness app. He also explained how Snoop Dogg has integrated the technology into his app, so he can give his fans a free download.
We also caught up with AdTruth, which has built systems that use data to recognise individual devices, as opposed to their users – a system that could pre-empt future privacy issues. However, the focus on hardware may also be a way to tackle media fraud – according to some reports, up to 50 per cent of internet traffic may be made up of bots as opposed to real people.
So how does all this activity validate the statement ‘digital marketing is dead’? Well, on one level, the sheer scale of Dmexco proves that digital marketing is no longer a distinct discipline – it is simply marketing.
But on another level it illustrates that the revolution we are seeing is not only set to transform the world of communications, sales and marketing. The new processes which you can see emerging are revolutionising the economy as a whole.
Gordon Young is editor of The Drum. This is his leader column for The Drum's 27 September print edition.