Is Dmexco a Must-Attend Conference for the Digital Industry?

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Carolyn Everson, Facebook's VP of global marketing solutions, and Tom Buday, Nestlé's head of marketing and consumer communications, speak with Anna Bager, IAB's senior VP and general manager of mobile and video, at Dmexco.
Carolyn Everson, Facebook's VP of global marketing solutions, and Tom Buday, Nestlé's head of marketing and consumer communications, speak with Anna Bager, IAB's senior VP and general manager of mobile and video, at Dmexco. Credit: Dmexco
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If you didn't make it to Dmexco in Cologne, Germany, don't worry: There will be another digital conference next week, and the week after.

There shouldn't be a fear of missing out -- FOMO -- but a fear of conference overload. Call it "FOCO."

Now, that's not to say Dmexco (pronounced "D-Mex-Co") doesn't come with tech star power or primetime programming. It just faces competition for attention in the digital and marketing industries already booked year-round in conferences, summits, getaways, retreats, weeks and awards.

With that in mind, here's a look at what gave Dmexco purpose this year and whether attendance is a must next year.

Brands haven't caught on yet

One of the big complaints on the conference floor was that there were not enough brands in attendance. At places like the Consumer Electronics Show and the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, the gripe is too many brands distracting from the spirit of those shows. Think about SXSW in Austin, where it has grown into a branded nightmare, which has been good for getting business done if not in keeping with the event's early rebellious spirit.

It's a fine line between too few brands and not enough, but Dmexco fell on the side of too few. While people may complain when marketers invade a conference, that's also when you know it's on the map. Dmexco will likely get there, but it has some work to do.

Facebook and Google run the show

Some vendors who expressed frustration at their inability to land quality time with the few potential clients kicking around Dmexco: Good luck landing a dinner with a prospect when you're up against a big Facebook event. (That's not as big of a problem at conferences where there are more brands and buyers to go around.)

Facebook, Twitter, Google and Snapchat also dominated the main stage talks over the course of the two days. Snapchat's Imran Khan, the chief strategy officer; Carolyn Everson, Facebook's VP-global marketing solutions; and Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, via video conference, were among the main attractions.

Twitter, Facebook and Google had some of the most prominent booths in the hall of the expo, too. That's actually a rarity at major expos, especially for Facebook and Twitter. At Cannes, they do have cabanas on the beach and at SXSW they have private offices in Austin, but in Dmexco they were right there on the main floor like any other exhibitor. That's always cool to see, even if all they could show off were some advertising case studies on a flat screen.

It's all about Europe

You'd expect a regional vibe to a European conference, but Dmexco feels downright local at times. Some attendees described trying to set meetings with top executives, but being offered sit-downs with lower-level executives out of Germany.

On the other hand, if your business depends on Europe, here's your chance to make those inroads. That's why the hottest companies were there: Snapchat and Twitter need to build that European footprint.

Next up, Web Summit

So, do you have to attend Dmexco? It does have its unique charms, like agencies setting up their own booths. It's not every event where DigitasLBi has exhibition space. Still, if you missed Dmexco, Web Summit hits Lisbon in November, and then there's Mobile World Congress in Barcelona in February.

Advertising Week in New York is the last week in September, and then CES in January kicks off the new year, followed by SXSW Interactive in March and Cannes in June. Of course, none of those will have the same quality of beer and sausage, which only a German conference could provide.