What were People in Video Talking about at Dmexco this Year?

DmexcoDmexco is over for another year, and this year’s event was as spectacular as ever. While the conference had a stellar line up, the real value of the event lies in the informal chats you have on the stands and over beers. If you want to get a handle on what’s happening in the industry, there’s few better places to do it. Here are some of the recurring themes that came up in conversation this year:

1. Many are Concerned that Facebook will Poison the Well

A lot of work has gone into trying to bridging the gap between online video and TV advertising. However, many people in video now fear that much of that work will be undone by Facebook entering the market. Commonly cited concerns are: (a) a sudden influx of inventory could have a deflationary effect on prices ; (b) auto-play ads will tarnish the wider industry’s reputation; (c) as the social giant won’t have to invest in content, it could allow them to under-cut pretty much everyone on pricing. Put simply, people are concerned that video will end up going down the same road as display advertising.

2. European Ad Tech Companies Love the NSA

Many US  ad tech companies struggle in Europe, especially in Germany where the local sales houses still dominate the market. As if life wasn’t hard enough, these difficulties have been compounded further still by the NSA/PRISM revelations and the US government’s cosy relationship with the leading American tech companies. Online surveillance is a huge issue in Germany – a country where many people still remember the Stasi – and Germany’s approach to privacy and its relationship with the US are key issues in the upcoming election.

Now this climate of distrust is casting a shadow over all US ad tech companies, and even those who weren’t mentioned at all are also bearing the brunt. Needless to say, European ad tech companies are proudly touting their European credentials.

3. Post-Adap.tv, the M&A Speculation is Breaking New Ground

There are two schools of thought when it comes to mergers and acquisitions in video. Some feel it’s going to be difficult now that Adap.tv have been acquired. Others are more optimistic, although the people in this camp tend to look beyond the usual contenders (Google, Yahoo, AOL etc.) when it comes to speculating about potential acquirers.

Many still aren’t ruling out the possibility of the agency holding groups moving into ad  tech, but a more common view is that the companies who have focused mainly on display and mobile (Rubicon, Pubmatic, Appnexus etc.) will buy their way into the video market. Video advertising is perceived as being difficult. It has its own language, its own set of metrics, and there are already a number of experienced video specialists fighting over a relatively small amount of supply. Merging with a video ad tech company might be a far more attractive option than starting out from scratch.

VAN’s theory is that we may see pay TV operators buying and/or investing in video ad tech. That’s not as crazy as it sounds. Progressive companies like BSkyB have a track record of investing in companies who threaten to disrupt their model (e.g. Roku and Zeebox), not to mention they already built Adsmart in-house. RTL have been similarly enthusiastic when it comes to embracing online video – last year RTL Netherlands acquired Videostrip, the country’s largest premium video ad network.

4. Size Matters

If you’re going to exhibit at Dmexco, do it properly or not at all. If anything, a small stand will damage your brand and – rightly or wrongly – lead people to believe the company is in trouble.

5. Linear Video is Becoming a Reality

One thing Smartclip were pushing heavily this year was serving ads into linear streams (and it’s something a variety of other companies are looking at – more on that in the coming weeks). Hybrid broadcast broadband TV (HBBTV) is taking off in some European markets, particularly in France and Germany. With HBBTV, IP-delivered TV channels feature alongside channels delivered via satellite e.g. Channel 201 could be delivered over satellite, while 202 could be IP-delivered . Breaking into linear TV is one of the industry’s many holy grails and it’s going to be interesting to if advertisers choose IP-delivered TV ads when given the choice.

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