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How Adobe plans to marry the art and science of marketing

15th May 2014
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Adobe kicked off its annual EMEA Summit in London yesterday with the company’s top executives revealing a number of significant enhancements to its Marketing Cloud platform, as well as setting marketers the boldest of challenges: to completely reinvent how they do their jobs.

Regardless of who you speak to at the San Jose-based company, there’s a firm belief that its transformation from being a supplier of creative software tools, like Photoshop and InDesign, to an all-encompassing marketing subscription services provider, correlates perfectly with the new direction marketers are likely to have to take in the coming months and years; and that the key to success will be how its products are best laid out to bring what they call “the art and science of marketing” together.

At the centre of the changes is the Adobe Marketing Cloud, and much of the razzamatazz at the company’s EMEA Summit was about the latest developments to the platform.

The aim is to create not only a single view of the customer through the services, but to also give a single profile to the service users so they can seamlessly run campaigns across the six marketing tools Adobe Marketing Cloud provides.

From watching demos on the big screens in the opening keynote from the company’s SVP, Brad Rencher yesterday, early signs point to ease-of-use being the main factor and differentiator behind Adobe’s latest updates; and the ability for businesses to be able to combine customer data used in marketing campaigns from across departments, agencies and other organisational systems such as CRM and ERP has now become the driving force behind the latest updates of the toolset. As Rencher put it, “the real-time enterprise is redefining the central nervous system of our organisations”. In other words, your customers are moving faster than you are, and you’re going to need to streamline your business practices with stuff like this, if you want to keep up.       

Analytics as science

Analytics is the other major driver behind the new Marketing Cloud. “The science”, as Rencher referred to it, now underpins all of Adobe’s services and further backs-up their view that data is likely to be the basis of everything the marketer of the future does.

One of the new features on demonstration was the Adobe Live Stream tool, which fits within the analytics solution of the Marketing Cloud and provides a dashboard that streams live data of where in the world people are logging into your company’s website as and when they do so, and delivers real-time details of what pages they’re then clicking on, buying from and conversing about through social channels, via engaging infobars rather than just numbers and pie charts. ASOS is using it on big screens in its offices to showcase to staff just how large and critical their customers’ movements are online, and other companies are likely to use it to make on-the-spot decisions about how to usher customers into buying with them online more effectively.

“With some of the new analytics tools we’ve announced, we’re talking about helping marketers make decisions more quickly and accurately with data, to the extent that you can make the right choice faster and guarantee it is cheaper,” said Jeff Allen, director of product marketing, Adobe Analytics, in a breakout session late yesterday afternoon.

“With this kind of data, you’re starting to get hints about the things you might be able to do to make your business run better. You’re also getting to the position where you can actually test things or fix things on your site, and then come back with measurable data that says “I just saved $8,000 by doing this on our site”, or, “I just fixed this and now we’ve got an increase of 200% in traffic through to this page”. It’s compelling but it’s also allowing marketers to actually test things they couldn’t test before.”

Adobe’s analytics is also now able to deliver what it’s calling a ‘predictive marketing’ tool to it users, meaning that marketers within businesses such as online retailers can actually see customers who are in their shopping carts or are at shopping cart level, and then be told whether or not those people are going to buy, based on previous data; allowing the user the chance to deliver individual messaging to that person to try and push them over the line. It’s deep-level, real-time data management, and it’s a true representation of what marketers can potentially do to improve personalisation for customers.

Underpinning creative roots

With all the science being integrated into Adobe’s Marketing Cloud, some suggestions have been made that the company could lose sight of the reason marketers are attracted to its products in the first place – creative tools.

Adobe remains bullish on this front, however, stating that in order to provide a full package for its traditional customers, it must evolve its creative tools to allow customers to go beyond simply creating with them; that delivery is just vital:

“Creative is still king, but how you deliver that and build dynamic creative before tracking it and understanding it is really being validated,” said Adobe’s director of product marketing, advertising solutions, Tim Waddell, when asked about the concern in a press call last week.

“As we see our competitors acquire similar technology to us, it just validates exactly what we’re doing and makes us feel like we’re leading the space. We’re ahead of everyone else; that creative aspect and the knowledge and relationships we’ve build up with the big marketing groups are really significant and helping to integrate products that customers want better.”

“In terms of financials, the marketing business is the fastest growing part of the business at Adobe, and it exceeded the billion dollar rate recently, which is a milestone,” said CEO Shantanu Nareyen, in his keynote session yesterday morning, at the Summit.

“We have long-term projections for the digital marketing business. We are excited about growth overall at Adobe and marketing will become a bigger part.”

If you rewind five years, when we started building the marketing cloud through the acquisition of Omniture, the question was why is Adobe Photoshop buying an analytics firm?” Brad Rencher added.

“Five years on, those questions don’t get asked anymore because the art and science of marketing have come together. We like to think we helped the industry to get to that point. You’re going to see the marketing and creative cloud come together and you’re going to see that much more than you have presently seen. That is the launch pad that we’re going to continue to use.”

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