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DMEXCO 2023 captures the spirit of the industry

DMEXCO reinforces its position as the leading event for the digital industry: on September 20 & 21, more than 800 international speakers came together here to embrace the motto “Empowering Digital Creativity” and define new directions for the industry’s trending topics, including AI and retail media. Around 40,000 international trade visitors and over 650 exhibiting companies and partners from across the world filled the halls over two days to conclude successful business deals, proving that DMEXCO really is Europe’s digital hotspot. 2024’s installment of the event will take place on September 18 and 19.
September 22, 2023

International top speakers think AI is more of an opportunity than a threat

Whether for marketing, the digital transformation, or society as a whole – artificial intelligence has enormous potential. Most of the speakers at DMEXCO 2023 were generally on the same page about that. In her keynote, Aude Gandon, Global CMO at Nestlé, spoke convincingly about how AI is reinventing creativity: “The secret is to hold on to our expertise with fundamental marketing skills which have not changed and amplify them with the tools of the time.” Gaurav Bhaya, Vice President at Google, addressed a major concern that artificial intelligence is threatening people’s jobs: “You are not competing against AI – you are competing against another marketer.” He thinks that the industry needs to get to grips with these new tools, as that will enable “marketers to focus on marketing again”. Ute Hildebrandt, Managing Director Continental Europe at Hotwire, calls for a positive image to be instilled in society: “We need to find a narrative for AI that isn’t just monetary or dystopian.” Samir Fadlallah, CIO at Axel Springer, believes that media companies have a key role to play here, especially when it comes to combating fake news: “We need to establish ourselves as a trusted source!”

Around 150 agencies show their presence at DMEXCO

Alongside national & international brands, startups, and e-commerce providers, agencies were also among the big exhibitor groups. According to Anke Herbener, Vice President of the German Association for the Digital Economy (BVDW), they are the “backbone of digitalization” and offer great potential. Franziska von Lewinski, CEO of SYZYGY, even views agencies as a “transformation engine for the economy”. Neil Heinisch, Creative & Founder of PlayTheHype, confirmed that the event fueled great discussions: “DMEXCO was a big class reunion of the digital industry. In addition to facilitating inspiring conversations, the event also provides the space to talk about future projects and partnerships. An excellent platform for shaping the future together.”

Retail media is gaining momentum

“Retail media is a wave that’s only just getting started, but will take the market by storm in the coming years,” predicts Patricia Grundmann, Chair of the BVDW’s Retail Media Circle and Managing Director of OBI First Media Group. However, Maike Abel, Vice Chair of the German Advertisers Association OWM, believes that the category still has some homework to do before it can really take off: “Retail media is media. It’s where retailers become publishers and thus represent competition for all well-known media companies. That’s why we need to ensure comparability between channels, transparency in KPIs, and a separation between media and sales talks.” Abel also calls for a joint industry committee to define harmonized standards across all marketers and a code of conduct for retail media. Similarly, Kristina Bulle from Procter & Gamble is still unsure as to whether and how advertising in retail can also be used for brand-building measures. In her eyes, retail media should help “product categories grow overall rather than market shares simply shifting within the product areas”.

Immersive worlds and new groundbreaking digital possibilities

NFTs, blockchain, and the metaverse are no longer just buzzwords – they’ve become established business strategies. At the DMEXCO Conference, numerous formats ranging from lectures to impressive practical examples provided fascinating insights into the opportunities and challenges of Web3.

The format DIGITAL FASHION – The Phygital Network, which was held for the first time at DMEXCO in cooperation with the German Fashion Institute (DMI), highlighted that digitalization has well and truly made its way into the fashion industry as well. For example, David Geisser, CEO of collectID, showed how real-life objects can be seamlessly merged with digital ones and how new immersive worlds are being created for users to wear physical products in video games, dress avatars in them, and more. Thanks to technology, exciting options are thus arising for consumers and brands to create unique customer experiences.

4.screen, a company recently co-funded by Sir Martin Sorrell’s S4Capital Group, presented case studies for in-car marketing. Tesla was also at DMEXCO to demonstrate the various ways in which it is integrating multimedia digital apps into its new vehicles.

Authenticity, diversity, and a level playing field are the key

Whether it’s different genders, generations, or ethnicities working together, or agencies, influencers, and brands joining forces across the fields of AI, data, creation, and retail – the majority of speakers at DMEXCO 2023 agree that collaborating on a level playing field is the ultimate key to success: “Diversity has to come from inside before it can be promoted to the outside,” argues Kerstin Erbe, Managing Director of dm-drogerie markt. Maggy Chan from NBC Universal thinks the solution lies in the formula “global reach, local impact” and encourages businesses to “act globally but talk to people locally in the way they like”. Eko Fresh talked about how being authentic first made him a successful rapper and then a no less successful entrepreneur and influencer: “My roots are the essence of my brand.”

Cologne becomes an international hotspot for the digital industry

Held at the same time as DMEXCO, Digital X – the European digitalization initiative organized by Deutsche Telekom AG – pulled out all the stops with Hollywood celeb George Clooney, musician Björn Ulvaeus, and futurist Amy Webb. United by a mindset focused on driving digitalization, the two joint events created the perfect platform for international tech and digital experts in both Cologne’s city center and exhibition center on September 20 and 21.

Koelnmesse’s CEO Gerald Böse takes stock: “Koelnmesse will be celebrating its 100th anniversary in 2024. By hosting successful flagship events like DMEXCO, we show how important the transformation toward the digital era is and that in-person trade shows significantly contribute to advancing the economy and society. Thanks to the successful collaboration between DMEXCO and Digital X, we managed to bring nearly 100,000 multipliers from the tech and marketing community together in Cologne across two days and turn the city into Europe’s digital hotspot.”

Prof. Dominik Matyka, Chief Advisor of DMEXCO: “An energetic atmosphere, jam-packed halls and stages, trade visitors from all over the world, and a whole lot of positive discussions: we’re delighted by the market’s amazing feedback and all the positive vibes in response to this year’s DMEXCO. AI and retail media were at the heart of this year’s conference. Altogether, the range of topics is vast, DMEXCO offers all stakeholders excellent guidance, plenty of inspiration, and – above all – a space to successfully do business.”

Dirk Freytag, President of the German Association for the Digital Economy (BVDW): “DMEXCO is the meeting place for international pioneers and thought leaders. We’re the top event for the entire digital economy. That’s also corroborated by the positive feedback from exhibitors regarding the specific deals they concluded at the event. Artificial intelligence dominated the stages and at the same time highlighted the diversity of this disruptive technology. The well-attended BVDW masterclasses demonstrated how important it is to discuss these far-reaching changes. We’re approaching a new era, and DMEXCO will continue to be a place for shaping the future.”

DMEXCO will return to the Koelnmesse exhibition center for next year’s event on September 18 and 19, 2024.


Here’s what just some of our partners and speakers had to say about DMEXCO 2023

Steffen Bax, Managing Director of iq digital: “This year’s DMEXCO once again gave us two highly relevant days. As a trade show and platform that stays true to its focal topic of digital marketing, DMEXCO is one of the most important formats for interacting with our market partners. Its commitment to being relevant and delivering high quality ties in perfectly with iq digital’s approach: promoting sustainable, impactful communication as a marketer for Germany’s biggest media outlets. Thank you to the hard workers and visionaries at the BVDW and OVK and their trade show partners.”

Virginie Dremeaux, VP, Marketing & Communications, International at FreeWheel: “The need to make contacts has never been as great in our industry as it is today. DMEXCO is a great place to forge global connections with our European and international clients and partners from the industry. This year’s event once again gave us the opportunity to network at our booth, and we were thrilled to share the Media Stage with Paramount Advertising International to share insights, stories, and trends.”

Benedikt Faerber, CSO of Media Impact: “For Media Impact, DMEXCO 2023 was again an excellent opportunity to intensively engage with our partners and identify new collaboration potential. The event proved once more how relevant it is to the advertising industry.”

Rasmus Giese, CEO of United Internet Media: “DMEXCO once again impressively showcased its business relevance. The challenges that lie ahead, such as the post-cookie era and artificial intelligence, were discussed in great detail. And most importantly, viable solutions were also presented.”

Gregor Hufenreuter, Senior Director Sales DACH at HubSpot: “DMEXCO continues to be a must for us because it’s a real business driver and the quality of the sessions has increased from year to year. We had in-depth conversations and made new high-quality contacts. And like every year, we obviously enjoyed seeing lots of partners again on both the agency and integration side.”

Sylwia Iwanejko-Sajewska, Country Manager DACH at TripleLift: “This year, DMEXCO reinforced its status as the top business event for the digital marketing and tech industry. After having reentered the local market last year, DMEXCO enabled us to restart key business talks on both the supply and demand side. Our presence was therefore an extremely positive experience for us. A great level of interest was shown in first-party data solutions and the topics of automation and efficiency for maximizing ad spend.”

Robert Jozic, Managing Director of Schwarz Media: “This was the first time that Schwarz Media attended DMEXCO – and there couldn’t have been a better time. With its highly diverse range of topics, the trade show offers the expected varied platform for market players to interact across the board, while also providing relevant opportunities for deep dives. We particularly appreciated the fact that the organizers had recognized the potential and relevance of the new retail media segment and brought together all the key partners, advertisers, agencies, publishers, and marketers.”

Wiljo Krechting, Public Relations Manager at shopware AG: “DMEXCO 2023 once again demonstrated why it is one of the most important trade shows in our e-commerce year. Alongside our partners, we were able to convincingly communicate our vision for the future of online retail to a tailored target group at the Shopware booth and during our presentations. The date for next year’s installment is already highlighted in bold in our calendar.”

Marius Rausch, RVP International Partner Sales at Microsoft Advertising: “DMEXCO 2023 has once again made its mark on the world map as a place for setting trends and making targeted decisions. At least from Europe, people will be flocking to Cologne again in September to get down to business.”

Dietmar Rietsch, CEO of Pimcore: “A big thank you to DMEXCO for allowing us to present our young company in such a unique and emotional way – departing completely from a traditional trade show booth. The extremely positive feedback from those visiting our chalet speaks for itself. DMEXCO 2023 was a huge success for us.”

Csaba Szabo, Managing Director EMEA at Integral Ad Science (IAS): “Here at DMEXCO, we’ve heard a lot about the potential opportunities and pitfalls of AI and the overlap between AI and responsible media: from content production to delivery and measurement. It’s great to spend time with clients from the European markets to drive this discussion forward and research this new boundary in digital marketing together.”

Dr. Daniela Tollert, Chief Growth Officer, GroupM Germany: “As the meeting place for experts from the international digital scene, DMEXCO definitely belongs on the yearly business agenda for exploring important topics such as responsible media and sharing inspiring leading-edge expertise from firsthand experience. In addition to being part of a professional dialogue, our focus at this year’s DMEXCO was to personally network with our clients, partners, and friends in order to talk about and discuss the latest digital topics as well as news and trends in the media industry.”

Image material for DMEXCO is available online at