DMEXCO 2019 recap

One of the world’s largest digital marketing and advertising conferences was once again the “meeting place for key players in digital business, marketing and innovation”. It was also graced by yours truly, although how much grace was actually there is difficult to pinpoint.

Ron Jaworski at DMEXCO 2019
Yours truly wandering out and about.

In any case, this is one event where you have to be present if you have any ties with the digital industry. Audio-wise, there is not much action or not nearly as much as it should be, depending on how you look at it. But some really cool things did happen and in the vein of my recent VOICE Summit recap, here’s a quick roundup of DMEXCO 2019 with respect to audio and voice. 

We are making strides

I’ll start with the audio industry’s presence. There were far more audio companies this year as opposed to last year so there’s progress on that front – we are getting a firm foothold. Strength in numbers, right? Still, the more important thing is the overall excitement about audio and voice technologies. When talking to people, you could really see and hear a certain level of enthusiasm. They largely don’t understand what’s going on but they want to learn more. One really cool thing was the recognition of Trinity Audio among several companies I talked to as one of the players in this space. A small personal victory for me and the team. 

View from the inside DMEXCO 2019
View from the inside.

Monetization is at the center of attention

The majority of audio-related discussions were about audio advertising, specifically monetization and generating revenue. Almost everyone I spoke with is unsure if there is a revenue opportunity in audio. Brands and publishers would rather turn to new video and display solutions that can generate revenue, largely because those are tried and true solutions for bringing as much value to the table as possible. 

The good news is that people in the adtech landscape want to explore the audio industry. They are beginning to understand one crucial thing: audio is not taking a percentage from their video and/or display revenue. Far from it. In fact, it’s actually adding to more user engagement because users consume content in times and places they usually didn’t.

While talking to a few marketing agencies closely following the industry developments, I found out they are eyeing 2020 as the year when they expand their efforts to audio. They understand that as a channel, audio basically completes their campaigns and provides an additional layer to the benefits of digital advertising.

However, to meaningfully invest in digital audio advertising, there are a lot of questions that don’t have satisfying answers (at least not in the way they’d want). As you can expect, these mainly relate to the classification and measurement of audio KPIs, as well as the ability to see the engagement of the user in real time. You have to understand that these are the people with thoroughly detailed systems in video and display, and are used to having everything under control. Even with radio ads, arguably the closest thing to digital audio ads, there’s certainty about relevant data and real-time engagement. Still, I can confirm marketers are very excited about audio and audio advertising, and that’s something.

Rubicon's booth at DMEXCO 2019
One of the better looking “booths”.

Figuring out audio skills/action 

The extensions of Alexa and Google Assistant (as that’s how many see them) got a decent amount of mentions. In a way, it’s 2007 all over again with the first iPhone coming out and first apps touching base. It’s new, exciting and relatively unknown. Everyone is trying to figure out what to do with audio skills and actions. There were a lot of questions about what businesses should do with these voice applications of sorts: what’s the best way to implement them, how they can generate money, how important are they to the users, and so on. 

Smart speakers, in general, occupied much of the discussion, with a significant portion of the conversation concerning VSEO or voice search engine optimization (side note: I’ve also heard people refer to it as VEO or voice engine optimization so I guess the jury is still out on that one). Because this is still a fairly unexplored territory, marketers want to know if they can promote their content through voice search on different platforms, and if so, how. 

Audio is still a niche but things are improving

With what I’ve written so far, the fact remains audio was still a small part of this year’s conference. I’m not deluding myself into thinking it should be bigger – after all, this is one of the world’s largest events centering on display, video, and social marketing, as well as SEO and measurement tools and techniques. Both the companies and attendees mainly come for those kinds of things.

Also, those that are now in audio and audio advertising, in particular, are the early adopters. It’s still viewed as a niche business. The technology is yet to catch on but there’s visible progress. The openness to hearing stories about audio and voice was amazing, with people eager to learn and then learn some more.

Random DMEXCO image for SEO purposes.
Random DMEXCO image for SEO purposes.

Actually, I had a few conversations with different companies that would be more than happy to look at my ruggedly handsome mug and learn about audio and voice technology. People want to gain a thorough understanding of the ins and outs of the audio industry and I find that amazing.

But on a serious note: I like to think of myself as an ambassador of audio and will be more than happy to educate on any and every aspect of it, both on the content and advertising side. I am usually available via LinkedIn so if you’re game, I’m game – we’ll work something out.

To be honest, I was a little bit surprised. I attended last year and let me tell you – there was a noticeable difference in how people perceive audio and voice technology today. I remember very few people being interested in hearing about audio (“Audio? Really?”) or the majority looking surprised like that’s going to be a thing. Well, it is. Better get ready for it.