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Milliseconds out, round two: Adobe Summit continues Marketing Cloud fight

24th Apr 2013
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Time is of the essence for the modern digital marketer. And that means it’s time for the Marketing Cloud.

That was the message at the Adobe Summit in London’s ExCel Centre, as SVP Brad Rencher demonstrated to the 2,500 attendees why milliseconds matter for marketing - and how Adobe’s Marketing Cloud is the right suite to make every second count.

“Marketing has become increasingly complex. Digital marketers are being asked to do more with more - more data, more objectives, more experts, more frameworks and ultimately more pressure,” he said.

“And there are changing expectations of the customer. A new normal is being set every day in terms of the customer expectations around the access of content and the availability of content and the speed at which you can access the content.”

He continued: “For digital marketing it is hard to keep up. Everything has accelerated. It’s easy for us in the industry to get caught up in the faster, faster, faster. But we have to slow things down or else we’ll lose focus on what is most important – meeting customer expectations and focusing on the individual.”

Rencher said a critical ‘millisecond moment’ exists in the user experience, where brands have a 300 millisecond window to serve up the right experience to the user, whether that user is clicking a link, downloading an app, or whatever.

“From the moment I take action to the moment when an experience is built for me there are milliseconds. That means every swipe, click and drop and grab that consumers take online. And consumers don’t care how hard it is to deliver, they just want an experience and they want it their way. This action to experience is what we call the last millisecond. And this is important for digital marketers to deliver on – because we can look like heroes or we can look average.”

Rencher explained there are four key pillars for marketers to deliver on this last millisecond:

  • Listening and watching what users are doing – “taking all data available, including demographic, enterprise and social data, and assembling it in a way that can be used in real-time campaigns”.
  • Predicting what they are looking for based on the data – “this has to be done at massive scale, these experience are being delivered all the time”.
  • Assembling the right experience – “Assets are in multiple places inside the enterprise. You have to be creative, with the pictures in the digital asset management system. You have pricing details in a back end system. And you need to be pull that together into an unbelievable experience. And then there’s the complexity facing us in terms of the explosion of devices and screen sizes and resolution. You have to know the right device people are on. And that’s not all, there’s also bandwidth. We’re accessing content at different connection speeds. We need to understand what bandwidth requirements are for the experience.”
  • Delivering the experience through the right channel – “All of this needs to be done end-to-end, and delivered in under 300 milliseconds. This is not easy.”

And in particular, there are two major hurdles to being a hero in the millisecond moment. From a technological standpoint, data and content in digital marketing needs to be able to flow from system to system from the moment it is created, all the way through to being delivered as an experience. And from an organisational standpoint challenges exist because siloes commonly exist within digital marketing.

Dog years

All of this was, of course, the platform to set up Adobe’s big pitch – why their Marketing Cloud is the one that really matters in the increasingly crowded marketplace. The “horse power that is propelling Marketing Cloud forward” is Adobe Analytics (“the broadest set of tools available in the market” that combines the likes of report Builder, DataWarehouse, Insights, SiteCatalyst and TagManager), Adobe Experience Manager, Adobe Target (combining Test&Target, Recommendations and Search&Promote), Adobe Social (“the only product combining the listening and publishing into one product and into a single workflow”), and Adobe Media Optimizer.

It’s a comprehensive suite, that both integrates process workflows to address the technological challenges of the millisecond moment, and also supports collaboration to address the organisational issues, by integrating the products to help teams work together.

But with no marketing automation such as B2C/B2B lead nurturing, is it truly end-to-end? In a Q&A session with the press, Rencher insisted it is.

“We’ve got great partnerships, and we go out to partners like ExactTarget and Responsys and they are B2C and B2B marketing automation vendors. So it is not Adobe-owned but we don’t believe we have to have everything Adobe-owned,” he said. “We want to have a product partnering system where we can jointly deliver solutions to market and they can leverage the power and capabilities of the Marketing Cloud and use that with marketing automation and then manage the optimisation with Experience Manager. So we have an active programme and we’re constantly meeting with customers to understand what their needs are and making sure we have either internal capabilities that they need or if we don’t have that then we’ll either partner to get that or eventually we’ll acquire the technology. ”

A sneak peek into a future move for Adobe? Possibly. Certainly it hasn’t been afraid to open its wallet in the past, with the acquisition of the likes of Day Software and Omniture demonstrating its ambition. And Rencher is keen to emphasise this point, noting that “we’ve created a billion dollar business basically from scratch in the last three to four years” – a reference to its expansion into digital marketing from purely digital media, an area which still accounts for one of its major “growth initiatives”.

“Adobe is in the midst of a major transformation of our business. We’re now over 30 years old, which if you calculate in dog years is well over a century old, because we’re supposed to have been out of business a decade ago. But we have been able to successfully over our history make these big transformational moves to stay relevant and stay ahead of what is happening in technology. And we’re absolutely in the midst of that again.”

Concluding his keynote session, he pledged: “We will deliver for you so that you can run your digital business on Adobe technology. We will deliver to help you and your organisation to deliver on the promise of the last millisecond. Because as customer expectations continue to change, we’re focused on 1) the technology and getting the technology to work together, and 2) the organisation and how you can collaborate the organisation to deliver.”

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