Mar 14, 2013
Last week, I had the opportunity to attend Adobe Summit, the company’s flagship user conference for its digital marketing business unit. The Salt Lake City, Utah event attracted over 5,000 digital marketing professionals that use Adobe’s growing suite of marketing technologies. After $4 billion of investment between acquisitions and R&D over the past three years, Adobe used this year’s Summit to introduce the Marketing Cloud, five major solution areas–Social, Media Optimizer, Analytics, Target, Experience Manager–geared toward making marketers more data-driven, customer-centric, and digital.
After presenting 27 somewhat-integrated products at last year’s Summit, Adobe’s vision is coming into focus. It is clear that Adobe is aiming to be a strong competitor in the enterprise marketing technology space, especially as it relates to digital marketing. Here are four takeaways about Adobe’s direction, the marketing technology space, and the evolution of digital marketing derived from developments at its Summit conference.
Battle of the Marketing Clouds Heats Up
Earlier this year in InfoTrends’ Road Map for Digital Marketing & Media, I noted an important trend about the rise of the “marketing cloud” concept in 2013. The concept is generally positioned as an integrated suite of primarily web-based technologies where marketing organizations can create, deploy,Â manage, track, and optimize a variety of marketing initiatives. Adobe has staked its own claim to the marketing cloud concept as evidenced by the rebranding of its solution “stack,” and other vendors are embracing this positioning.
- Salesforce.com has its Social Marketing Cloud, which is squarely focused on social marketing and heavily leverages its acquisition of Radian6.
- Oracle is positioning its suite as the Customer Experience Cloud, which intends to tie together a mix of its own technologies and acquisitions like Eloqua, Collective Intellect, Involver, and RightNow.
- IBM also has its Marketing Center, which it positions as an on-demand, cloud-based marketing platform.
Expect competition to heat up among these companies as enterprise marketers continue to shift their initiatives to digital channels.
Adobe’s Value Proposition is Still Creative
Speaking of competing marketing clouds, Adobe CMO Ann Lewnes made a bold statement during a briefing with press and analysts at the event. When posed with questions about Adobe’s future acquisitions and positioning against competitors like IBM and Oracle, Lewnes stated “we are not an IT company.” Lewnes believes that Adobe’s competitors simply don’t understand marketers. SVP and GM of Adobe’s Digital Marketing business unit, Brad Rencher, underscored the importance of Adobe’s creative tools and the ability to manage the entire content supply chain as key differentiators against other companies that have bought their way into the marketing technology opportunity. As showcased throughout the event, there was indeed more integration between the Creative Cloud and the Marketing Cloud, and we expect that to continue as both suites evolve.
DAM is a Critical Enabler of Collaboration
One of the major themes that Adobe pitched at Summit was enabling more collaboration to “knock down siloes” between roles, departments, and partners to support more agility within marketing organizations. While the talk-track was a bit dated, the company presented a compelling collaboration tool included in the Marketing Cloud that heavily leverages Digital Asset Management (DAM) technology to help companies actually accomplish these goals. In addition to managing and sharing creative content of all types, Adobe’s collaboration tool centralizes analytics reports and other alerts, providing a central hub for team members and external partners (like agencies) to quickly find and perform tasks. I’ve long-advocated that DAM needs to evolve from a simple repository of digital media files to an integrated, enterprise-wide solution that helps streamline marketing and media processes. Adobe’s collaboration tool is another signal that DAM is evolving and playing a more critical role.
Personalization (Finally) Goes Mainstream
Personalization was of great interest to digital marketers at Summit, and Adobe pushed hard to evangelize greater adoption via its solutions. There were at least ten breakout sessions specifically dedicated to the topic of personalization, with plenty more covering elements like segmentation, targeting, and optimization. The concept of personalization is nothing new, as those in the direct marketing world know well, but the technology has matured to the point where all it takes is a few mouse clicks and a few lines of code to execute fairly robust personalization. While the barriers are lower, there are still plenty of challenges to delivering effective personalized customer experiences, which InfoTrends will explore in detail with its upcoming research study on the topic.
Marketers continue to funnel more of their spending to digital strategies and tactics. Many of the digital marketers I spoke with at Adobe’s Summit conference have grown their teams substantially just in the past year. Teams that used to have three or four digital marketers now have dozens, and in some cases, even hundreds. As this trend continues, the company’s mix of marketing technologies, increasingly tighter integrations with its legacy creative technologies (which are still used by the large majority of marketers today), and focus on enabling more collaboration and data-driven marketing decisions puts Adobe in a strong position to aggressively grow its digital marketing business.
Associate Director, Digital Marketing & Media Trends
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