Europe’s Biggest Week in Online Marketing

From the ATS London to the dmexco in Cologne

Like so many other online marketers from across the globe, we spent last week hopping between some of the biggest digital marketing events of the year. First stop, London, where we joined ExchangeWire’s Ad Trading Summit, the premier event for “Ad Trading Specialists” (aka ATS) from Europe and beyond. Then we headed off to Cologne, where we joined one of the largest meetings of online marketers in the world — the dmexco — where almost 20,000 visitors made their way between booths, keynotes, panels, seminars, and meetings. Needless to say it was a very busy and exciting week! Thanks to everyone we had the pleasure of reconnecting to as well as those we had the first time pleasure of meeting.

ATS London 2011

“I was really impressed with the range of opinions and expertise on the panels,” said Thomas Brandhoff, our Managing Director, of the #ATSL. “And needless to say the growth of the conference itself is a great litmus test for the growing interest in the topic of real-time display across the media industry in Europe — almost double the audience size from the conference earlier this year.”

There were many great thoughts shared at the conference from some of the industry’s most influential voices. The kick-off was a keynote from AppNexus CEO Brian O’Kelley, who took it upon himself to add one more TLA (that’s “three letter acronym”) to the already overflowing pool: ATS = Ad Trading Specialists. O’Kelley used this term to describe the bulk of the people in the audience: a new breed of digital marketers with specific focus on (real-time) biddable media, especially display. He also announced that AppNexus would be powering a new exchange for Hi-media, one of the biggest online media houses in Europe. This is certainly good news for advertisers as well as a great step forward in getting more European publishers on board the RTB train.

There were plenty of memorable moments throughout the conference. We couldn’t agree more with what Netezza’s Brad Terrell said about the importance of hiring world-class talent, and he was spot-on with his statement about never underestimating the importance of reducing data latency. According to Joe Zawadski from MediaMath, we are past the stage of installing the plumbing of marketing automation (ie, the “Liquidity” and “Automation” stages), and well on our way to the third phase: Optimisation (with an “S,” since we were in London).

One interesting suggestion from the panel titled “Moving Brand Spend to the Automated Channel” was for brands to use the digital channel as a testing ground for the messaging they would take to their preferred branding channels, such as television. Richard Dance, who works for an agency representing Ford, explained that using technologies like smart versioning and dynamic creative optimization, advertisers can use digital display to see which messaging consumers best respond to, then pass those learnings on to the other channels. Obviously most of the audience was keen to the fact that a whole new world of possibilities for both branding and DR will become possible as addressable TV comes to the market.

A message that came across loud and clear from the agencies and advertisers in the panels was “simplification!” To bring people across the bridge into the world of RTB, avoid talking shop in the purest sense. Leave the acronyms behind when possible, and make sure that customers and potentials understand the WHY before they try to wrap their minds around the HOW. It’s no easy task to educate the market about what’s so great about RTB, but if we all take a step back and try to make this simpler for the advertisers and publishers who can benefit from these solutions, they will be both excited and anxious to implement these technologies instead of intimidated by the mess of technical terms. Transparency was another key issue: one speaker said that now, because of these new models, it’s not good enough for a solution provider to show the advertiser the only “answer” to the question, but they must also “show their work,” that is, show how the end was achieved. Black box is not going to cut it anymore.

The moral of the story for the day: “If it’s digital, it will be traded.” We look forward to helping advertisers to add incremental value at an impression-by-impression level using RTB!


This was my second year attending the dmexco, and it was even more exciting than the first. This is truly a global gathering of some of the greatest minds in the business. I had the pleasure to meet and hear from many marketers that I admire a great deal, and share in the bubbling excitement that was flowing through the exhibition halls. This is an event that I would not want to miss any year!

“This is THE leading digital marketing conference for Europe,” says Lothar Krause, sociomantic VP Sales. “We were working hard on both the supply side by working with new and existing inventory partners, as well as growing the demand side by getting even more clients on board.”

At 19,300 visitors, this was the biggest dmexco to date, and you could really feel the energy throughout the two-day event. On the first day of the conference, Tommorrow Focus highlighted a study done with comScore which showed that RTB is the main area of automation that advertisers expect to invest in over the next year. The prominence of companies like Admeld at the conference also demonstrated that RTB was one of the main topics of the event, a word (err… acronym) that really was on everyone’s lips! One problem with this of course is that a lot of companies were claiming expertise on the topic, when there is reason to believe that they may not have much experience with “real-time, for real” — but it’s a good sign in any case that the real-time concepts and performance improvements they can deliver are on their way to being adopted across the display industry at large. The biggest challenge for marketers will be to weed out the PR stories from the true real-time technology players. If you need any direction on this point, you can always get in touch with us. 😉

We were also lucky enough to get to educate the market a bit on the topic of RTB for eCommerce advertisers. Lothar spoke on the second day in the Speakers’ Corner to an attentive crowd.

Thanks to everyone involved in these events for helping to make an awesome week in online marketing! We look forward to help even more advertisers rock RTB over the coming year!

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