Video, Podcasts, and the Future of AI: What We Learned at DMEXCO

Hallo, from Cologne! It is Day 2 of DMEXCO and we’re just winding down and sipping our last bit of Kölsch, from our booth in Hall 6.

This year, we were on the floor talking about how our new free experience helps fans discover more, and how that personalization benefits both fans and brands. With a total of six speaking engagements and a number of exciting announcements — including an expansion of our relationship with Nielsen through the adoption of Nielsen Brand Effect — it is safe to say that Spotify’s DMEXCO 2018 was bigger than ever.

Here’s a look at what we were up to in Germany.

Day 1 kicked off with Sean Kegelman, Spotify’s Global Head of Data and Audience Solutions, on the Experience Stage. The panel topic was “Esthetic Ways of AI,” and Sean joined an eclectic cast that included Susan Wegner, VP Data Governance, Architecture and Analytics at Deutsche Telekom; Florian Dohmann, Founder/AI expert of Birds on Mars; Steven Althaus, Head of Global Marketing & Brand Communications at Credit Suisse; and Jason Romeyko, Worldwide Executive Creative Director, Serviceplan, for a lively discussion on the relationship between AI and creativity.

Sean set the tone of the panel by explaining how Spotify uses AI to personalize music experiences for listeners and power the 10 billion new discoveries that happen on our platform each month. However, Sean also emphasized that while machine learning is important, so is the human element, like the human-curated playlists that fans enjoy on Spotify. Said Sean, “In the end, it is a fine balance when it comes to content. AI can do powerful things, but the human touch will always be essential.”

Florian Dohmann, who spoke about artist Roman Lipski’s collaboration with AI in his art, agreed. “Like Spotify, I also believe that the human and artificial need to work together.”

Meanwhile, Steven Althaus of Credit Suisse, who talked about AI’s potential to improve brands’ overall customer experiences, emphasized putting the user first. Said Athaus: “Today, people think — I have this awesome user experience with Spotify, why can’t I have that in other services? You have to look to the gold standard and do the same.”

Next up was Sven Bieber, Head of Ad Sales in Germany, with his seminar, “Discover Spotify: How Brands Can Get Creative with Streaming Data.” Sven spoke about Spotify’s streaming intelligence — our unique first party data that reveals moods, mindsets, and tastes. He explained how a number of brands, like Snickers, SEAT, PlayStation, and Douglas have utilized streaming intelligence with playful and contextual creative messaging.

To cap off the session, Sven demonstrated our code functionality for the audience. He put up the code for Niklas Ibach and Giorgia Angiuli, our two guest DJs for our evening booth party and asked the audience to try out the search/scan functionality on their phone. Everyone who tried it out was invited to the Spotify booth to hear Niklas and Giorgia spin at the event.

Later in the afternoon, Brian Benedik, VP Global Head of Advertising at Spotify, took to the Motion Stage to talk about discovery and streaming. Brian talked about Spotify’s trusted in-app environment and our user-first approach to video ads on the platform. He also touched on our commitment to advertisers, as demonstrated by our our high MOAT and IAS viewability rates (which well-exceeded benchmarks).

Brian revealed his own Spotify streaming history from this summer (which prominently featured ABBA’s “Mama Mia”) to demonstrate why music is a mirror — providing a rich and textured data set that uniquely reflects how you’re feeling and what you’re doing. (Check out the New York Times coverage of the talk here.)

Following Brian’s session, eager attendees were already lined up for Spotify’s VP of Sales, Europe, Marco Bertozzi’s panel on Voice Strategy. Marco joined Winston Binch, Chief Digital Officer, Deutsch North America and Adam Skalak, Global Head of Search at Nestlé to discuss how brands can use voice to achieve their goals.

Moderator Manfred Klause emphasized connected audio’s increasing relevance due to voice adoption, and talked about how voice is a disruptive new form of search. Winston added that brands should be thinking of new ways to use voice. However, Marco reminded listeners that while advertisers are quick to jump to having a “skill” or a voice strategy — utility is key. He pointed out that the number one thing people still do with smart speakers is listen to music and talked about the existing opportunity to reach audiences there through platforms like Spotify. Winston agreed, “Use voice to solve problems. Don’t just rush to have a skill to have a skill.”

The last Spotify panel of the day was moderated by Angela Solk, Spotify’s Head of Agency Partnerships. She joined Jocelyn Lee, Head of Media Strategy and Ad Technology Deloitte Digital/Heat, Ben Wood, Director of Agencies, EMEA, Facebook, and Tim Ringel, Global CEO, Reprise Digital for a discussion around breaking the traditional agency silos.

The provocative panel brought representatives from an agency, consultancy, and partner/vendor to discuss how the breakdown of norms in the traditional media space is forcing agencies to adapt. While all the panelists came from unique backgrounds, they agreed that all parties need to work together to do what’s best for the client.

Said Ben, “There’s a narrative about how agencies and consulting groups are on a collision course — but that’s not what I’m seeing. When brands need advertising, we go to agencies. When we talk about how to use WhatsApp, we go to consultants.” Jocelyn also agreed, “The agency or the entity that can best help clients navigate through data will ultimately be the most helpful for clients.” Angela wrapped up the session succinctly: “I think we were all selected for this panel because they thought we’d have competing viewpoints, but in the end, I think we all agree — agencies, consultants, partners, and in-house all have a role to play.”

Finally, we got the party started in our booth with DJs Niklas Ibach and Giorgia Angiuli. After a great day, people were thrilled to mingle, compare notes, and cut loose.

Day 1 of DMEXCO was a blur of meet and greets, panel discussions, and presentations. But Day 2 started out with a more mellow vibe. That is, until the day’s biggest attraction — a conversation with Spotify Managing Director of EMEA, Michael Krause and acclaimed Fest & Flauschig podcast host, moderator, satirist, and author Jan Böhmermann at the Congress Stage.

In their lively conversation, Michael and Jan discussed how the media landscape has changed, the genesis of the Fest & Flauschig podcast with Spotify, and Fest & Flauschig’s upcoming 100th episode celebration.

When asked about the shift from traditional media to the new, Jan argued that the demand for TV and radio content isn’t going away — it’s just that it may not be delivered through the same traditional channels. Jan also turned the lens on Michael, asking him to explain how Spotify’s use of data is different than traditional media. Michael said that Spotify’s ability to use their data to personalize the listening experience is key.

All in all, it was a great DMEXCO. We hope everyone who attended enjoyed themselves as much as we did. Tschüss, bis zum nächsten Jahr!