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With less than 48 hours to go until Dmexco, marketers across Europe will be busily scanning the conference listings to decide how best to spend their two days in Cologne. Big issues around regulation, Blockchain and AI predictably dominate the agenda. However, as always with marketing events like this, the real challenge is tracking down the insights and ideas that you can use to drive tangible growth for your business.

I know from my conversations with B2B marketers that it’s the ability to translate new technologies, trends and hot topics into measurable ROI that most dominates their thinking. That’s why I’ve been going through the Dmexco schedule with an eye on the sessions that are likely to offer most to the business bottom line, or which offer genuinely unique perspectives on the topics everyone is talking about. Scroll down and you’ll see my recommendations – the conference events that I’ll be making time for this week, and which I’d recommend to any other B2B marketer as well.

 

Of course, there’s much more to an event like Dmexco than the speaker line-up. It’s the conversations that take place between sessions that often throw up the most important moments of inspiration.

Here’s my take on the essential sessions for B2B marketers – the perfect jumping off point for starting those conversations:

 

The Age of Digital Optimism

Wednesday September 12

10:15am to 10:45am

Congress Stage

I’ve made room in my Dmexco timetable for one or two keynotes that I think are too compelling to miss: sessions that are likely to generate headlines and influence the broader marketing discussion in Europe over the year to come. In the first Dmexco of the GDPR era, this one stands out as a must-see. Deutsche Telekom’s CEO Tim Höttges will be addressing Europe’s approach to balancing risk and opportunity when it comes to digital media and data. He’ll argue that a mindset of digital optimism is essential for the region to compete more effectively in today’s digital landscape, and that it can do so while still protecting distinctly European values around transparency, safety and privacy.

 

Take C.A.R.E of the future with AI

Wednesday September 12

10.50am to 11.15am

Congress Stage

 

Baidu is China’s Google: the second-largest search engine in the world and one of the most innovative technology companies on the planet. This session with vice president and chief technology officer Alex Cheng will reveal how Baidu is approaching the opportunities around AI. It’s a chance to hear a Chinese perspective on how technologies like voice, image and natural language processing will transform both the way we live – and the way we do business.

 

The Essentials of Account Based Marketing

Wednesday September 12

11.30am to 12.45pm

Work Lab 1

Large sections of the Dmexco agenda will be focusing on emerging technologies such as AI and Blockchain – and the opportunities they represent for marketers. For B2B marketers though, there’s a far more compelling and immediately accessible growth opportunity out there: Account based marketing (ABM). Businesses across Germany and Europe have the opportunity to unlock big increases in engagement, acquisition and revenue through closer integration with sales and personalised marketing directed at relevant prospects. Melanie Gipp of Marketo is one of those best placed to explain the key steps in getting an effective ABM strategy off the ground – and it’s well worth making time for her session in Work Lab 1.

 

From Corporate Film to Corporate Porn

Wednesday September 12

1pm to 1.20pm

Speakers’ Forum

I admit I’m intrigued by the title of this session – but I’ll also be going to it with a bit of nervousness as well. It promises to tell the story of how a manufacturing business created the world’s first ‘corporate pornography’ film – but I strongly suspect that there’s more to this than meets the eye. Either these 20 minutes (which have been very cleverly marketed by Al Dente Entertainment) will be desperately inappropriate and awkward, or they will showcase a genuinely disruptive approach to creating B2B video, challenging conventions and going all out to capture attention. There’s only one way to find out.

 

How to Stop Budget Squandering

Wednesday September 12

5.05pm to 5.35pm

Debate Stage

 

There are many Dmexco sessions focused on how programmatic and AI will impact on media planning and buying for marketers. This panel discussion promises to bring the discussion back to what most concerns marketers in Europe today: what do these technologies really mean for the age-old challenge of deploying budget more effectively? And how can they help to improve ROI?

 

Marketing Effectiveness: How The Economist Proved the Power of Marketing

Thursday September 13

12pm to 12.45pm

Seminar 4

Manu Mathew of Nielsen Visual IQ presents the story of how The Economist moved beyond simplistic, last-click attribution models to understand the true impact of brand awareness and upper-funnel marketing activity. It promises to be a fascinating insight into how analytics and optimisation can shape your strategy for engaging a professional audience – and translating that engagement into growth.

 

Marketing and Sales Orchestration: How Aligning Sales and Marketing Redefines the Customer Experience

Thursday September 13

2pm to 2.45pm

Seminar 8

 

It’s the most important issue in B2B marketing today – and the organisational change that can have the greatest impact on growth for your business. My LinkedIn colleagues Kira vom Hagen and Janine Olariu will be sharing real-world examples of sales and marketing alignment in action, spotlighting the barriers that need to be overcome, and explaining the actions that can instil an orchestration mindset across your sales and marketing teams.

 

Optimizing Customer Experience in the Age of Conversation

Thursday September 13

12.25pm to 12.50pm

Experience Stage

 

As the influence of voice search on buyer journeys expands, marketers will need a different approach to designing their customer experiences. Microsoft’s Senior Manager of Global Engagement, Purna Virji explores the role of conversational AI in delivering personal, relevant experiences that don’t always require a screen.

 

Branded Content: How to Drive Sales and Engagement with Branded Video

Thursday September 13

3.30pm to 4pm

Experience Stage

 

B2B marketing’s pivot to video makes this an essential session. Brands are significantly increasing engagement through native video on LinkedIn – and the more creative and impactful your approach, the greater the benefits that you’ll be able to drive throughout the buyer journey. Insights from video content pioneers like VICE and Contently promise to help develop original video stories that will compel people to keep watching.

 

With so much change in the advertising sector this year, Dmexco 2018 will surely be an interesting indicator of the industry’s immediate future. I, for one, will be curious to feel the atmosphere on the ground, and see how businesses are approaching this - whether that’s loaded with optimism, or restricted by nerves.

 

Henry Clifford-Jones is a director, LinkedIn Marketing Solutions, Central, Southern Europe and MENA