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DMEXCO 2018: Digital economy puts people front and center

Number of visitors slightly higher than last year, significant rise in exhibitor satisfaction Over 1,000 exhibitors from 40 countries, more than 550 speakers and a total of 41,000 trade visitors on both days: the meeting place for all major decision-makers from the digital economy, marketing and innovation was very well attended in 2018. There were some self-critical voices from the digital economy: the central goal in both digital marketing and e-commerce is to maintain or regain the trust of users in a rapidly developing technological environment. Exhibitor satisfaction with DMEXCO itself is growing significantly. In 2019, the meeting place for all major decision-makers from the digital economy, marketing and innovation will take place in Cologne once again on September 11 and 12.
September 17, 2018

“The age of digitalization is the renaissance of the human being,” forecasts Pieter Haas, CEO of MediaMarktSaturn Retail Group, on the Congress Stage. At DMEXCO 2018, digital experts and marketing decision-makers discussed above all the effects of technological progress on people and the relationship between marketing and users. In a fireside chat with German journalist and publicist Tanit Koch, Philipp Schindler, Chief Business Officer Google, also stressed that Google is very aware of its responsibility for users and the web: “Last year we removed 3.2 billion bad ads from our network!” said Schindler. At the same time, he announced that Google is giving much thought to addressing users with new forms of communication: “We will have a lot of assisted features, not only voice-based. They will be more natural and action-oriented.” E-commerce is also faced with the task of further improving the user experience with the help of technology. “The customer journey is no longer linear. Brands have to ask themselves how people buy today. This is the biggest challenge in e-commerce marketing,” commented Philip Missler, Managing Director of Amazon Advertising for Germany, on the behavior and demands of users.


Dorothee Bär: Only concrete applications make AI understandable for people


The discussions at DMEXCO 2018 left no doubt that artificial intelligence (AI) will be one of the central megatrends in the years and decades ahead. “It’s no question that we live in an AI-powered world,” emphasized Suresh Vittal, Vice President Strategy of Adobe, on the DMEXCO Conference Stage. Sheila Colclasure, Global Chief Data Ethics Officer of Acxiom, added: “We need to govern how we operationalize AI so that we can detect and prevent bias.” Dorothee Bär, Minister of State for Digital Affairs, spoke on the Debate Stage with AI expert Chris Boos from Arago about digital change in Germany and the problem of how artificial intelligence is often discussed in terms that are far too abstract. “If we show people concrete applications, they are much more willing to engage with the topic,” said the Minister. “A study has shown: Germans do not like change in itself, but – in comparison to other countries – are best able to deal with it.”

The influence of political decisions on the digital economy also became directly apparent at DMEXCO: after the European Parliament voted yesterday in favor of a Europe-wide copyright reform, the digital economy was already discussing the consequences at DMEXCO.


Around 41,000 visitors and a successful premiere of the “World of Agencies”


With around 41,000 visitors, of whom 45 percent were international guests, this year’s DMEXCO surpassed last year’s level. The exhibitors are also giving a very positive signal. As far as the quantity of visitors and the quality of contacts at the stands are concerned, the interim results of an exhibitor survey show that exhibitor satisfaction with DMEXCO has increased significantly. “We are delighted with the positive feedback, are grateful for the trust placed in us and guarantee the industry that we will continue to innovate ” says Dr. Dominik Matyka, DMEXCO Chief Advisor.

The “World of Agencies”, in which 16 companies, including Collabary by Zalando, Echte Liebe, madvertise and nayoki, are exhibiting this year, also enjoyed a very positive response from the public and exhibitors. “We are very pleased that the new exhibitor format was enthusiastically received at the premiere. The extremely positive response reinforces our plan to expand the “World of Agencies” in 2019, so that even more agencies will have the opportunity to participate in DMEXCO,” says Philipp Hilbig, Director Expo & Operations DMEXCO.


MeasureMatch wins “The DMEXCO & Unilever Foundry Start-up Hatch”


170 start-ups made an appearance at DMEXCO 2018. The winner of the start-up format “The DMEXCO & Unilever Foundry Start-up Hatch” have been chosen. In the final pitch on the Debate Stage, the start-up MeasureMatch prevailed against the strong competition to win 15,000 euros in prize money from Unilever Foundry. MeasureMatch is a platform that aims to help companies recruit data, analytics and technology experts. “At this year’s DMEXCO & Unilever Foundry Start-up Hatch we’ve seen some truly innovative start-ups and technologies at the event and we are excited about the opportunities they create for our business,” commented Richard Jerrett, Senior Global Innovation Manager Unilever. The winner of DMEXCO’s second start-up competition, the “SevenVentures Pitch Day”, is the platform for online therapy courses Selfapy.

Both start-up competitions and the increased number of companies in the Start-up Village underscore the importance of innovation for DMEXCO. In the year ahead, start-ups from other sectors are going to be added.


DMEXCO 2018 testimonials


Gerald Böse, Koelnmesse President and Chief Executive Officer: “Both the large number of visitors and the first results of the exhibitor survey show that the anniversary DMEXCO has successfully evolved under new management. Over the past two days we have heard many times that trust was a major topic at this year’s DMEXCO. For the anniversary DMEXCO, we already felt a great deal of trust from our partners and exhibitors in the run-up to the event. I am all the more pleased that this assessment is also documented in the figures.”


Matthias Wahl, President of the German Association for the Digital Economy (BVDW), professional sponsor of DMEXCO and owner of the brand: “After modifying and enhancing DMEXCO this year in many places, together with Koelnmesse, we were eager to see how visitors and exhibitors would respond to these new features. Since yesterday there has been no doubt that we have taken exactly the right path: DMEXCO was and is the most important hotspot for the global digital economy. The discussions we had with visitors and exhibitors, many of whom are BVDW members, underline this just as impressively as the visitor numbers, which continue to be strong – the mood was very positive throughout.”


“We are particularly pleased that our industry has responded so positively to this year’s DMEXCO. This encourages us in our strategy to continue on the path from trade fair to medium in the future. That’s why from next week on we are going to be saying: the next DMEXCO is never far away. We have a lot in store for the coming months,” was the summary by the DMEXCO Board around Philipp Hilbig, Dominik Matyka and Christoph Werner.


More DMEXCO 2018 testimonials


Thorsten Schütte-Gravelaar, Managing Director of smartclip: “In parallel to this year’s DMEXCO, we are currently seeing intensive political discussions and decisions that will also shape our industry. Take Telekom board member Höttges’ criticism of the political shift to the right and his call for social responsibility within our industry as well. Or the decision of the European Parliament on the copyright reform. And also the GDPR, which is changing the digital advertising industry. My hope is that DMEXCO will move even further along the path to becoming a trade fair of profound innovations. My request to the DMEXCO creators is that they continue to take a stand for a responsible industry with sustainable developments.”


Manfred Klaus, Managing Director, partner and spokesman of the Group: “The first day of the trade fair was a huge success: the Conference program met with a great response, the panels I presented on the topics of voice, AI and creativity were also very well attended, and we had exciting discussions at our stand in the Agency Lounge. My impression is that this year’s visitors are more focused on really doing business than in previous years.”


Lisa Gradow, co-founder and Chief Product Officer Usercentrics: “I am positively surprised about the large number of questions and conversations of substance. This is the first DMEXCO for me personally and for us as a company and even though we are on our feet non-stop, I can already say that we would prefer three days.”


Graham Collie, TrafficJunky: “DMEXCO is fantastic! The quality and quantity of the contacts that we made on the first day was more than we made with five other shows in total. Germany is a very important market for us – we will definitely come back next year!”


Rafael Andrade Pérez-Cossio, tappx: “DMEXCO is our most important and most successful event. That’s where we focus on and where we put all our efforts in. Perfect organization!”


Christoph Thielecke, Managing Director Unruly Deutschland: “And once again this year we have a sensationally successful DMEXCO and have broken our own meeting record – not only quantitatively.”




DMEXCO is the meeting place and a community for key players in digital business, marketing, and innovation. We bring together industry leaders, marketing and media professionals, and tech pioneers to set the digital agenda. Both globally informed and locally focused, DMEXCO offers an ecosystem with seminars, debates, and expositions outlining the future of the digital economy and driving market value.
Bringing together 40,000 visitors, 1,000+ exhibitors, and 550+ speakers from around the world for a one-of-a-kind event each year in Cologne, DMEXCO has set the standard as the place for business minds to learn and inspire, build connections, and for ideas to become actions. DMEXCO — where tomorrow’s digital business happens today.

The German Association for the Digital Economy (BVDW e.V.) — with special participation from the Circle of Online Marketers (OVK) — is the ideational and professional partner of DMEXCO and the owner of the DMEXCO brand. DMEXCO is organized by Koelnmesse.

DMEXCO 2019 will be held in Cologne on September 11 & 12, 2019. You can find all the information about DMEXCO 2017, as well as photos, stories, events and the podcast, at,,, and