This year's DMEXCO Conference was a hotbed of new ideas and trends in the digital marketing industry.  Over 2 days, 770 speakers presented their thoughts in 200 hours of sessions. I attended enough of them to see the emergence of 4 key patterns:

Trend 1. Generative AI as a creative co-pilot

With more than 50 sessions on this subject, Generative AI was the star of the show. A particularly interesting angle is using GenAI as a creative co-pilot. For example, generating new ideas for marketing campaigns, automating content production and other repetitive tasks.

Content at scale, means content is no longer limited to the end result. As marketers can create thousands of pieces of unique content instantly images and even video content are not just left for the end. They become part of the core creative process, elements you can experiment and iterate on. 

Trend 2: Authenticity over personalisation

For a while now, marketers have tried to personalise their messages to individuals. Results have been mixed, as content is often not relevant enough, or too relevant (spooky). 

Marketers are now focusing on creating authentic content that resonates with their audience at community level. This means understanding the tone of their cultural spaces , and leveraging GenAI to create content aligned with those spaces.

Trend 3: First-party data ownership

Both trends rely on large pools of data, so data ownership is becoming an increasingly complex issue. Marketers are more mindful not only how they collect and use data, but also where they store it and who owns it.

Regulation concerning the copyright and privacy implications of training GenAI models will soon emerge.  In preparation, ownership and governance of an organisation's dataset will soon be a common strategic realignment.

Trend 4: Marketing is getting more technical

As a tech enthusiast, these trends are right in my comfort zone. However, it was striking that the industry has become a lot more technical, a trend likely to accelerate.  

The best CMOs are in effect also CTOs, as data ownership becomes their responsibility and their teams need to internalise GenAI tools. As the cliché goes, marketers will not lose their jobs to AI - they will lose it to someone who uses AI.  

Implications for Content and Digital Experience Platforms

GenAI may have sucked all the air in the room, but I had a chance to catch up with our CMS/DXP partners in attendance. The march of Headless continues, with Storyblok and Contentful talking a good game. Kentico touts its new Xperience product as a "hybrid" system, and Optimizely continues on a path towards a performance-driven toolkit. 

Everyone has GenAI plans, but the trend towards first-party data ownership is a threat on the SaaS model. Could self-hosted, Headless-ready systems like Umbraco benefit? Having gone through a complete hype cycle, a return to in-housed, open-source systems would not surprise me in the least.