“No doubt we will set the bar even higher”

BVDW President Matthias Wahl speaks about his expectations for DMEXCO 2018 and the association's offerings.

What offerings from BVDW can be expect to see at DMEXCO this year?

BVDW is the conceptual and professional sponsor of the event and owner of the DMEXCO brand. The association will be represented, as usual, with its own stand on the Boulevard right at the North Entrance. At our stand you will find information about our work as well as facts and figures pertaining to one of the most important and increasingly relevant economic areas of the future. We invite everyone to visit us. Those BVDW members, who do not have their own stand, have the opportunity to present themselves in the Digital Lounge in Hall 8. On the day before DMEXCO begins, BVDW’s Circle of Online Marketers will be hosting the Online Ad Summit as the official pre-event. The summit will serve as a platform to discuss current challenges in online marketing. At the fair itself, the association will be presenting the Challenge Award to young agencies. The credit card and payment theme has been developed in cooperation with American Express. We will also be organizing the BVDW seminars on current topics of the digital economy again this year. For the tenth time, BVDW’s Guided Tours will provide exhibitors the opportunity to present their companies to the public, organized around 20 different specialist topics.

Which topics and trends are particularly relevant this year from BVDW’s perspective?

We continue to see rapid digitalization of the entire economy, even including conventional industry, for example. Compared to the previous year, the digital transformation has once again made strong progress as we also see in the dynamic development of our membership landscape. Players from entirely new industries are joining BVDW and driving the digital economy forward together with the digital natives. Topics like artificial intelligence and blockchain have long since left their niche to become socially relevant topics. BVDW is responsible for moderating such developments, taking into account not only the social but also the economic and political issues. It is particularly difficult for the political sphere to keep pace with these developments. Unfortunately, even broadband expansion is proceeding far too slowly and that digital education in schools is still rarely comprehensive.

BVDW’s Guided Tours have been become an integral part of the event. What focus can visitors expect in 2018?

Tours especially tailored to first-time visitors, brand manufacturers and SMEs will be offered for the first time on the occasion of this anniversary. As accustomed, we will also be providing expert tours on topics including e-mail marketing, digital commerce, digital transformation, mobile, Internet of Things, etc. for which we have planned a total of around 20 tours.

With the Digital Lounge, the BVDW is offering a large pavilion. For whom is the visit worthwhile?

Our pavilion offers small and medium-sized companies in the digital economy up to a certain annual turnover space to present their companies. The companies are all BVDW members. Visitors can therefore meet dedicated, mostly young players who have not previously had their own stand at DMEXCO. It provides visitors the opportunity to meet a several trendsetters, who will soon be the talk of the town.

Which BVDW experts and speakers will we be seeing on the conference stages this year?

We have developed 18 panels as part of the BVDW seminars. These will reflect many of BVDW’s departments and focus groups, from conventional BVDW topics such as online marketing or programmatic advertising to new topics like smart homes. We are scheduling several dozen BVDW experts for the stages. Speakers from the BVDW presidium will also be there. Thomas Duhr (IP Deutschland), Achim Himmelreich (Capgemini), Stephan Noller (ubirch) and Marco Zingler (denkwerk) for example. The BVDW panel on the Debate Stage with Janina Kugel (Siemens), Franziska von Lewinski (fischerAppelt) and Vera Schneevoigt (Fujitsu) will be exciting as well.

What will be the greatest business challenges in the coming months from BVDW’s perspective?

A recent BVDW survey found that 43 percent of digital companies have restricted their digital activities due to the GDPR. Warnings are already reaching about five percent of companies. The entrepreneurial challenge now consists of facing this uncertainty with determination. Those who are doing business properly have nothing to fear and do not have to restrict any activities. However, against the backdrop of this regulation, which contradicts itself in many places, this is a huge and only partially solvable challenge. To provide orientation in this regard, BVDW has sent all its members a free practical guide to the GDPR. However, e-privacy regulations are threatening to destroy the work on the GDPR. If the EU Commission actually implements the version of e-privacy regulations currently being discussed, this will have dramatic consequences for the global competitiveness of European companies. The role of Germany as a technology hub is at stake here.

The new concept of DMEXCO (website, orientation, etc.) has been and continues to be an issue within BVDW. You’ve just had your general meeting. Can you provide us some insight into what BVDW members think of the new concept?

The people I’ve talked to really welcome the new concept. BVDW and its members are fully behind it. A revision of the DMEXCO brand was necessary, and with the DMEXCO team around Philipp Hilbig, Dr. Dominik Matyka and Christoph Werner, we have extremely committed and capable personnel on the DMEXCO board. Dominik is doing Koelnmesse good and has already achieved a lot at an impressive pace in the past few months. With Ruth Lemmen, we have also found a new highly competent consultant for DMEXCO within BVDW and can now ensure that the interests of BVDW members will be taken into consideration to an even greater degree.

What will be your personal DMEXCO highlight?

That’s a good question. I am very excited about our new BVDW stand. As managing director of RMS, I am also particularly interested in the audio topics. Google Home, Alexa and others in this sector are currently changing everyday life in many households around the world. Overall, it will be interesting to see how much the conference and the trade fair manage to represent the tremendous transformation toward a truly digital economy. It is no small task, but DMEXCO has always succeeded in this regard.

Which offer do you see as having big potential this year?

I think the new Guided Tours will be interesting for many exhibitors, because they will not only be structured according to topics, but also according to the target groups for the first time this year. Exhibitors can therefore specifically attract SME audiences or brand manufacturers. This is a completely new concept for us.

What is your measure of success for DMEXCO 2018?

The satisfaction of BVDW members will depend on how well the Guided Tours, seminars and other offerings are organized and, above all, on the quality of the audience. With the introduction of the 99 euro payment barrier last year, Koelnmesse and BVDW already made an important contribution to quality assurance. The discount on tickets for Young Leaders is also a good initiative. Even if we just maintain the level of 2017, DMEXCO 2018 will be excellent. But I have no doubt we will set the bar even higher this year.