As in 2020, DMEXCO took place completely online this year, and some of us took part as visitors. Here is our recap of the event. Read what the hottest topics were and which sessions were our favorites.

Some facts about the attendees and sessions

DMEXCO offered a stage for more than 600 speakers from 240 partners and sponsors. As gender equality was among the topics of the event the organizers are proud that almost half of the speakers (47%) were female. Also, more than half of the speakers (57%) hailed from outside Germany-but we're not sure how many of the international speakers were from outside the German-speaking DACH region.

The over 300 sessions covered 39 broad topics. 65% of these sessions were offered in English, the other 35% in German. That gave enough choice for international attendees to make the virtual conference worth their time and attention. 

But were the attendees also international? Unfortunately, to a large extent, they were not. If one can trust the information about the attendees from the Community section on the DMEXCO platform, the attendees were from 68 countries globally. But 92% of the participants were from Germany.

What were the major topics on the session schedule?

Filtering the conference agenda, the following of the 39 topics sported the most sessions (scroll down to the pie chart).

Keep in mind that it is up to the presenter to decide which topics the session fits into. One session could have been found under several topics, but not necessarily where you would have expected it to be. That is why we took a second look and identified these as the major topics across the whole session agenda:

  • The end of 3rd party cookies and the alternatives (i.e. netID)

  • Privacy and GDPR

  • The state of digital advertising in Germany and Europe (search ads, native ads, contextual ads, targeted ads)

  • The effects of the Corona crisis

  • Brand safety in online advertising

  • Data-driven and/or customer-driven marketing

  • Political topics such as German elections, climate change and sustainability

  • Employer branding

  • Women in the tech industry

  • Social Media - especially TikTok and Youtube

  • Purely company and product presentations

Now that we know how the sessions were distributed across major topics, let’s look at how they resonated with the audience. The registered attendance rate per session varied from low- less than 100 to more than 500 participants (the attendee counter on the DMEXCO platform stops at 500). Most of the sessions acquired 100-300 attendees. But it is the small circle of presentations with 400+ attendees where you can see what the real hottest topics of this year’s DMEXCO were:

  • Social media, especially TikTok and Youtube

  • 1st party cookies

  • Privacy and GDPR

  • Content marketing

  • Search Marketing and online advertising

What drove interest in these sessions?

Analyzing these attendance rates, you as a marketer can come up with some assumptions about why these sessions attracted so many signups. Here’s what we thought:

  • The presenter was a big name or trade association.

  • The session was given extra promotion via DMEXCO channels.

  • The presented topic was the new kid on the block everyone is talking about (i.e. TikTok).

  • The session title did not sound like a company or product presentation.

  • The session title was easy to understand but not too generic.

  • The session addressed a broad audience (not too niche).

  • The session was not in the late afternoon.

How did we find DMEXCO 2021?

What we liked:

  • A wide variety of topics.

  • Affordable tickets for attendees.

  • Many videos were available on-demand soon after the end of the live session.

  • Access to the whole Participants list with more detailed information about the attendees. This set DMEXCO apart from other events. It enables you to get in contact with attendees you would have never met at a physical event of this size. 

  • Live chats in almost every session, which enabled conversations between session attendees.

What we didn’t like:

  • We considered becoming a sponsor, but the limited visibility did not justify the very high price.

  • Many high-profile sponsors from previous years were missing.

  • Too many sessions overlapped in time, and we found building our schedules difficult.

  • The platform did not provide a great user experience and was full of bugs and malfunctions.

  • Some functionalities that make an online conference enjoyable were missing, like turning off the notification popups, a personal session calendar, and clearer communication about which sessions were Live and which were pre-recorded.

So, was it worth it?

As usual, it depends on what goals you want to achieve by attending DMEXCO. Despite being largely held in English, the conference had a strong focus on topics that were important for German audiences. If you are keen on getting to know the German digital landscape, its opportunities, and its challenges better, then DMEXCO is worth your time. 

However, we missed the presence of many leading companies in the digital industry which used to sponsor the event. Most of our partners – innovative SaaS companies that lead in their fields – decided to skip DMEXCO altogether. 

In our opinion, next year DMEXCO has to step up their game. They need to offer more attractive sponsor packages with much more visibility for the sponsors for a more reasonable price. Being a digital conference, we found the technical infrastructure really lacking- they'll need to improve this and the user experience of their online platform if they want that the DMEXCO stays a relevant industry event in years to come.

Title image: ©Koelnmesse

  1. Some facts about the attendees and sessions
  2. What were the major topics on the session schedule?
  3. Which sessions were the most popular among the attendees?
  4. What drove interest in these sessions?
  5. How did we find DMEXCO 2021?
  6. What we liked:
  7. What we didn’t like:
  8. So, was it worth it?