A wide angle shot of the crowded koelnmesse halls during DMEXCO 2018

DMEXCO 2018— Our Experiences

Two Fintechies Exploring the Digital Marketing Expo and Conference

Finance — it’s tempting to think it’s all about numbers. Or about data, now that learning machines piece together profiles from customers’ digital footprints.

But that’s only one side of the coin. In equal measure, it’s about communicating with and relating to the customer. Financial service providers have to accurately address their target groups. How can numbers and data sets close ranks with words, images, and emotions?

At the Digital Marketing Expo and Conference 2018, such questions took the limelight. The conference, often abbreviated as DMEXCO, drew more than 40 000 visitors to the halls of koelnmesse, Cologne. Among them: Two software professionals from the fintech sector.

Used to the fintech, payment and banking sector, DMEXCO was a different kind of experience for us — particularly as it offered a variety of seminars and conferences unheard of at banking conferences. And saying that, DMEXCO stepped up its game, on occasion of its 10th anniversary. The goal: To make the conference more open and encourage exchange. The DMEXCO motto alone looked promising: Curiosity, Action, Responsibility, Experience — all of them congregating into the very C.A.R.E. we all have to take for our customers.

But what was the conference experience like for us, coming from an industry of codes and currencies? Indeed, the C.A.R.E. motto wraps up the whole event nicely, and how we came to know it. So, how about a short DMEXCO 2018 review?

Curiosity (Know What You Want To Get To Know)

We were indeed curious about DMEXCO 2018. The main question: Digital money and digital marketing, where are the touch points?

At DMEXCO, they were out in the open. DMEXCO is a must-go for the digital content sector from Germany and beyond. Related industries didn’t think twice to book a space at the exhibition halls. Aside from content management solutions, influencer databases and video advertising studios, we spotted many companies you would expect on fintech fairs as well: Wirecard, Klarna and Computop, to name a few.

At DMEXCO, companies pulled out all the stops to get attention – multi-level coffeeshop booths included.
At DMEXCO, companies pulled out all the stops to get attention – multi-level coffeeshop booths included.

The different halls of DMEXCO were filled to the brim with expansive company booths. Start-ups had to do with less space, some occupying just a small round table in their area — the bare minimum for business talk.

Given the extensive lineup, you should make certain to know which decision makers you want to talk to. If possible, scheduling meetings beforehand might also help. At DMEXCO 2018, just heading from booth to booth would have kept one occupied for days.

Yes, a real-life Tealium. Too bad we were out of poké balls.
Yes, a real-life Tealium. Too bad we were out of poké balls.

At least provisions wouldn’t be a problem: The exhibitors vied with one another over the most creative food to serve visitors at their booths: Coffee bars were the default, while sweet treats like soft ice, popcorn or whole candy stations enjoyed popularity. Hardly surprising PornHub’s banana didn’t attract that much attention.

Action (Stick To The Plan, Except When You Don’t)

The things DMEXCO 2018 certainly did not lack were things to do. To put a number on it: 250 hours worth of meetings, workshops, and presentations. And that’s some number for 2 days.

On twelve stages and in several seminars and workshop rooms, experts and industry professionals shared their knowledge. You could fill every minute of the conference day with presentations and panels, but you had to mind distances. Merely getting from stage to stage was a time factor not to be underestimated. Consequently, having your day planned out proved to be a huge advantage. The official DMEXCO app turned out to be a valuable ally.

…if you were willing to let it go, that is. During short breaks, we could stop by at the stages placed right in the passageway — they were clearly designed to the Speaker’s Forum was notorious for that. Even the seminar rooms downstairs in the underworld of DMEXCO 2018 offered last-minute seats to spontaneous visitors.

A total of 570 speakers shared their insights at DMEXCO. The stages were the highlights on their own.
A total of 570 speakers shared their insights at DMEXCO. The stages were the highlights on their own.

Indeed, some flexibility was required in the light of tiny disruptions in the timetable. And Lunchtime turned out to be a considerably large disruption. At high noon, DMEXCO attendees assembled into dragging lines in the sun-scorched food area outside. Some booths even featured multiple lines: Your hungry stomach is in for a nasty surprise, realizing that it was just the order row you waited in for 30 minutes. The indoor food court on the far side of the start-up area was a little more composed.

Responsibility (Pay Mind To The Pressing Questions)

Dealing with different groups of customers in a profit-yielding but also ethical way is no easy task — all the more when working in a fast-paced industry such as fintech or digital marketing. It means having one eye on the work at hand and one on the horizon.

Consequently, the trending topics of DMEXCO 2018 orbited around new technologies and their various uses. Fintech professionals could feel very much at home here: Artificial intelligence and blockchain found broad interest in the industry, if in very use cases unlike those in finance.


In his excellent “Blockchain Revolution” keynote on the Experience Stage Alexander Tapscott hinted at one clever use of distributed ledgers. With blockchain, cutting out the middleman in business is easy. Even if the business is user data trading and the middleman is Facebook or Google. For example, companies could offer users tokens in return for the datasets they provide.

On the next day and on the same stage, blockchain joined forces with biometrics and ensured transparency in value chains. In short, the reflection on blockchain was characterized by optimism. “Why use blockchain of all things” is a question that sometimes remained unanswered, though. An interesting blockchain project that stuck with us, was xchng, offering an open source advertising platform.

Alex Tapscott rallying for the “Blockchain Revolution”.
Alex Tapscott rallying for the “Blockchain Revolution”.

Artificial Intelligence

The utilization of machine learning and big data in digital media and advertising called for a more nuanced discussion on different DMEXCO stages. Analysing user data via algorithms and placing ads accordingly already is the daily bread of the online marketing industry. What remains controversial is, how to use the technical prospects to generate relevance for target audiences. A claim that was often uttered by professionals: Grasp the person behind the data and be relevant for them.

A panel on “Content Marketing in 2020” at the World of Agencies took the debate one step further even: If future data-driven advertising provides genuine custom-tailored ads for one specific customer, what would customers talk about? Surely not about ads, as they would have zero relevance for people outside the target group. This would oppose one elementary aspect of good advertisements: High distribution.

Experience (Now, What Do We Think?)

To draw a line under the DMEXCO 2018 experience, we feel it has been a mixed bag for us. It was a great way to check on the state of the digital industry and we drew important lessons from some of the seminars — and a half-hour of company promotion talk from others. In some cases, we would have appreciated a more in-depth look into some of the fields.

What DMEXCO 2018 really succeeded at, was creating a very consistent look and feel — everything belonged together. That made it easy to overlook some of the guerrilla aspects of the event. All in all, we experienced the Digital Marketing Expo and Conference 2018 as an open, well-organized event with a strong community aspect. Fintech and digital marketing, those two have grand prospects together.

Have you been on DMEXCO and want to share your opinions? We are happy to read them in the comments section.

And we are happy to hear from you if you are in fintech or banking. We offer scalable and secure emoney and crypto exchange software solutions. Contact us at info@trimplement.com for more on this. You also find us on TwitterLinkedIn, and Facebook.

Images © trimplement GmbH, Cologne

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