Frederic Handt, Managing Director Bonial Germany

Many preliminary reports talked about a crisis or loss of relevance of dmexco. This is not the case at all. dmexco 2017 taught us all a lesson, and what a lesson! Here is my personal review of the trade fair.

If you attended dmexco last year you will remember: It was simply too crowded. You could barely breathe and there was no space for decent conversation- the visitors were literally treading on each other’s toes. What was pronounced in advance as being a “bold” decision to sell tickets this year was totally spot-on. At 99 Euros per ticket, the price threshold seems to have been high enough to deter precisely those visitors who merely attend in order to bag some gadgets.  So the decline in the number of visitors this year does not imply in any way that dmexco is over-the-hill. Rather, the quality was better.

Great talks- on stage and next to it

This year too there were great guests on stage and on the panels. The trip to Cologne would have been worth it for that fact alone. But the speakers also had to deal with critical questions. Donald Trump is certainly the most famous and controversial Twitter user in the world at the moment. The President of the United States of America is not shy with his opinion and is a polarizing figure. When answering questions, Jack Dorsay reminded us that allowing people to express their opinions is part of democracy. This also applies to the President. Twitter’s function is to provide a platform for debate and discussion. And many leading personalities in business and politics besides Trump take advantage of this opportunity.

If you did not make it to Cologne or missed an event due to scheduling-related reasons you ought to have a look at the trade fair’s YouTube channel, where there are re-cap recordings.

Online and offline are blending with each other more and more. This applies to business as well as marketing. Multi and omnichannels link customers’ purchasing experiences on the different channels. And this trend will continue in marketing. Campaigns started online are then continued offline.  This happens through segmented push news based on user preferences/ behavior. Another possibility of promoting the “Drive to Store” desired by retailers is through the application of geo-targeting with which the user is contacted close to a market. On kaufDA and MeinProspekt we are already conducting campaigns for both retailers and brand producers which combine both approaches.  Campaigns can also be extended with digital signage directly at the PO. Brick and mortar retail simply remains indispensable in many segments.

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My 6 take-aways from dmexco 2017

What did I take away from dmexco 2017? “Digital transformation” is always the dominant theme here. Personalization, programmatic buying and AI are also topics our sector has been dealing with for some time. There were several other topics at the forefront:

1. VR and AR are breaking out of the niche

Currently Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality are still in a niche. But after a tour of the trade fair I am not so sure that it will stay that way for long. Especially the new version of Apple’s operating system for its new iPhones will give AR a push. There is no question that technology is complex and developing an app of practical value for the customer is time-consuming and costs money. Bonial already started out early on collecting initial experience with the VR app. From the perspective of brick and mortar retail the topic of VR will certainly gain relevance. Because this gives rise to manifold opportunities for use, for making experiences at the POS more interesting and for further improving quality.  The purchase decision at home on the couch may become even more convenient in some segments.

2. Marketing departments and Sales need a joint planning system

Today, when surfing the web, customers regard many ads as irrelevant, even annoying, as they already bought the respective product.  For this reason, solutions going beyond traditional ERP systems for individual companies will be indispensable for the future. The breaking down of data silos is an important topic.  This does not only concern communication of sales and marketing within a given organization; the barriers between departments, customers, competitors and suppliers blend into each other  along a chain of added value to quasi form an added value collective with a holistic perspective of the customer.

Welcome to the “Digital Market Hall”! We shared our great booth with Axel Springer Media Impact and Awin.

3. Trust matters

One word pops up in many presentations: “trust”. It is the alpha and omega, the beginning, but also the end of all when trust is lost. Customers want to see advertising which they deem relevant, which promises a benefit. Trust embodied in a brand. But all too often these expectations are thwarted. Retailers and brands want to trust that their messages only emerge on platforms they deem appropriate and reputable. And they want to be able to trust the figures from the advertising platforms. The presentation by P&G-Chief Brand Officer Marc Pritchard in particular stressed this.

4. Retail platforms are becoming ad platforms

Paid Media on retailer sites was a topic of the panel “The Conquerors of the Last Mile in Digital Advertising”. On Amazon many brands now reach more users than on the companies’ own corporate websites. It is only logical then that Zalando, Amazon and other platforms attack traditional publishers. Alibaba is already earning significant turnover in Asia via paid ads. The advertisers not only buy their advertising services there but also gain insight into the consumption habits of their target groups. And last, but not least, branding and performance fuse with each other. At our trade fair stand we presented “Bonial Connect” and “Bonial Reach” at numerous meetings with customers. Two new products which help the retail sector to present its current offers on its own website and where necessary to involve the reach of the Bonial platforms kaufDA and MeinProspekt. The first leading retailers and brand manufacturers already implemented this.

5. Data protection is more than just a hygiene factor

As expected, the modification of European data protection right affects the entire sector. The protection of personal data is not really anything new. The European Data Protection Basic Ordinance only specifies many approaches. For companies this means it is high time to think about two aspects: on the one hand: to check if their own approaches and systems are in line with the new framework conditions, but more importantly, to think of arguments to persuade the customers to provide their consent to use of personal data.

Non-compliance with data protection may be punished doubly starting next year: by the authorities, but even more acutely, by the customers, through loss of trust in the retailer or brand.

6. Machine learning is an opportunity, not a threat

Artificial intelligence (AI) is without a doubt a revolution in marketing. The use of machine learning and self-learning systems will play an increasingly more important role in the area of “forecast” Retailers and customers will receive support in searching for answers to the question of what the customers really want or want to buy. If there is an adequate database AI helps to communicate the product via the right channel and also to have it available. It is only a matter of time until there are AI-generated advertising means tailored to the respective customer. An intriguing question is whether we will be successful in placing the focus of the development on cooperation between humans and machines. Media-Saturn shows this with robot Paul who takes on tasks in the markets to relieve the sales staff.


My conclusion: dmexco is a mecca of the sector and was worthwhile as always, as it provided an insight into the future. De facto, this is already the present- only it is distributed unevenly and perceivable to different degrees for all participants in the market. It is up to us to actively shape it.



About the author: Frederic Handt is the Managing Director of Bonial Germany, with brands kaufDA and MeinProspekt.  He worked for 8 years at Procter & Gamble in various leadership positions, most recently in Global Customer Innovation and Shopper Marketing. Prior to joining Bonial, Handt managed development and production in Germany for New-York-based company Harry’s.


Published with kind permission of:
  • Bonial Germany brings together retail experts at the “Bonial Future Lab 2017”
  • Why retailers should visit dmexco 2017
  • “It’s about customer success”: Interview with Bonial’s new CCO Efrain Rosario