May 21, 2014
On May 14th and 15th, Adobe organized the fourth edition of its European Digital Marketing Summit with the theme “Re-Inventing Marketing”. The event helps Adobe to better equip marketersÂ for the rapid transition to digital, and to better engage with the evermore empowered consumer.Â The event, staged at the ExCel Centre in London attracted over 3,800 visitors from 47 countries, and represented a 30% increase in attendance compared to 2013.
At the conference, Adobe (and key partners) showcased their technological leadership and brought in a range of interesting speakers to share best practices, insights, and entertainment. Besides the main stage, they offered almost 100 breakout sessions on several topics, ranging from the latest technology trends on mobile, social, and multi-channel, to how enterprises can overcome organizational barriers between CIOs and CMOs.
Highlights of the conference included:
- Keynote from Mr. Brad Rechner, SVP and GM of Adobe’ Digital Marketing business group. Mr. Rechner set the stage for the conference and talked about the need for marketers to re-invent themselves in this rapidly changing environment. He mentioned that most of today’s marketers are digital immigrants — people who did not grow up with digital media but have learned to adapt. Most of the CMOs and Chief Digital Officers that came on stage were seasoned marketers that had only recently made the transition to the digital marketing world.
- In addition to marketers in transition, there were also those in marketing that were digital natives such as Amber Atherton (23 years old; a digital native) of My Flash Trash. Amber spoke about how she started a business at the age of 9 and how she is continuing to build a successful online jewellery business using primarily social media such as Instagram and YouTube.
- A technical highlight was David Nuescheler’s presentation. Nuescheler is the VP of Enterprise technology, and showed how the Adobe Digital Publishing suite can push app updates to different mobile devices with various screen sizes, operating systems, and app retail channels
- UK-entrepreneur Michael Acton Smith, founder of Moshi Monsters — a popular online gaming and educational platform for seven to nine year olds kids – spoke about perseverance and how they were able to grow their business to 80 million users from 150 countries in the span of just a few years using digital marketing
The first day concluded with an interesting discussion on the challenges between the CMO and CIO, led by Adobe’s CMO Ann Lewnes. Some of the highlights were:
- In the past CIOs used to operate closely with CFOs, Â instead they are now required to build bridges with the CMO. To build this bridge, enterprises typically follow two models: they either have CMOs and CIOs work in tandem and focus on their core strengths (e.g. CIOs on building data sets, and CMOs on data analytics), or they form a new executive position in the middle (e.g. a Chief Digital Officer).
- Adobe’s CIO Gerri Martin-Flickinger explained how her role is evolving and spotted the need to collect more data at a product level and make that available to the wider organization, in particular the marketing department.
- Mons. Lucio Adrian Ruiz, Head of Vatican Internet Office, spoke about how the Vatican deals with new (mobile) technology and now they are embracing social media and mobile technology to communicate with today’s visitors of the Vatican.
In terms of the overall conference, it was at times a bit too US centric for a European audience and one could clearly see the influence of Neolane (a French company) on the speaker list. It was a miss not to have a couple of German CMOs on stage, as it would have been very interesting to get a perspective from Europe’s largest economy that is home to some of the world’s premier car manufacturers and tech brands. That said, Germans culturally have more resistance in sharing best practices, perhaps the market is more behind that makes finding an interesting case study more difficult, or finally German brands may not want to be associated with the more contentious parts of digital marketing, especially behavioral analysis and user tracking. Privacy is a big thing in Germany and they feel that too much openness may backfire to them.
Marketing in today’s digital work is very rapidly becoming a multi-faceted process that requires a blend of creativity, analytics, and data-driven insights (e.g. personalization) to become successful. Technology is becoming the foundation and as the market is still emerging, it may be difficult for marketers to keep on top of the latest digital trends, let alone to be successful. Adobe, like other vendors in this space, has spotted that marketing was going to evolve from a craft into a science and have strategically re-aligned their business from being a provider of print and creative software to a leading provider of digital marketing and digital publishing technologies. Their Omniture (data analytics), Efficient Frontier (Media Mix Optimizer) and Neolane (Marketing Automation / Campaign Management) acquisitions were well-chosen and form the building blocks of their integrated marketing suite strategy. The suite is pretty complete for most enterprise marketers and contains some very advanced components. Finally, Adobe has not been afraid to make bold moves in changing their business model; moving from a perpetual licensing model to a recurring subscription revenue stream, and while it is causing them some pain at the moment, it will likely pay off in the long run.
One of the key differentiators of Adobe is its creative heritage, which enables them to tell a compelling story to today’s marketing executives. They have made a start with integrating the Creative Cloud with the Marketing Cloud and their Digital Publishing Suite, and started to mention the importance of their creative past during the conference. If they can now link creativity with innovation and truly embed it (a la Google), they can create a brand proposition that is hard to match by the competition.
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