Thursday, April 9, 2015

Insights from Adobe Digital Marketing Summit

I read a profound quote recently in context of marketing from Marc Mathieu, SVP of marketing of Unilever. According to him, “The marketing industry is still putting too much emphasis on digital as a separate category, rather than marketing to people in a digital world.” Not sure, if everyone agrees to it or not but advertising and marketing are in an unprecedented time of growth and invention. According to IDC, from 2014 to 2018, marketing technology spending will reach $130B for the 5 year period. There’s been over $21.8 billion of venture capital and private equity invested in marketing technology companies recently – it doesn’t include any money raised from public offerings. It is a common knowledge now that the real innovation in marketing is a shift from producing communications to delivering customer experiences - basically, it is just not just art and copy, but also code and data. Also, the line is really blurring between sales, marketing, CRM and media in the digital world.

The digital marketing summit organized by Adobe is viewed as one of the premier events in the digital marketing landscape. It was held in March 2015 at Salt Lake City convention center and had 7000+ attendees from more than 44 countries. In a nutshell, it revolved around Adobe’s marketing cloud, its value proposition and also a peek into what will be coming in the next twelve to eighteen months. Before we dive into the details of what Adobe is saying, let’s explore the concept of marketing cloud and its positioning and significance now.

Why Marketing Cloud?

Basically, in theory, marketing cloud is a concept of one stop solution, offered as a “Software-as-a-Service” model, for all your marketing solutions need.  The space is very new and evolving and it has some basic components like multi-channel marketing automation, content management tools, social media tools, testing tools, analytics platforms, media optimizer solutions etc.

Today the big players in the marketing cloud are Adobe, IBM,, Oracle and HP. These vendors are still defining what marketing cloud can/should be based on market dynamics. Since these players can't offer all the solutions at once, each company has a head start in few areas mainly because of historical acquisitions.  Adobe is playing to its historical strength of content creation and data; is all about social and CRM integration; Oracle has great platforms for multi-channel marketing and ecommerce; IBM has overall dominance in commerce; and HP is placing its bets on Big Data.

Today, these vendors just solve only few aspects of the marketing technology landscape.  Either they miss many important pieces or they lack integration because they have acquired many disparate products in a very short span of time! Adobe lacks integration with the sales side of the business as it lacks the CRM piece. lacks the content creation piece. Oracle lacks a web analytics platform and an ad tech solution. IBM is trying to catch up and still runs all new acquisitions as separate businesses. Both IBM and Oracle have a strong e-commerce solution which both Adobe and lack.

What’s New in Adobe Marketing Cloud?
Lets talk about few significant offerings and how it can potentially matter.

  • A New Data Management Platform - Adobe audience manager (formerly Demdex) is a new data management platform that helps build unique audience profiles that can identify your most valuable segments and use them across any digital channel. In the past, we could define an “audience” in Adobe Analytics for analytical purposes, but to recreate that same segment to, say, send an email from Adobe Campaign or to personalize content on the website or mobile app, required manual step-by-step recreation. Adobe has made strides to automate this process which is a significant step.

  • Streaming and Monetizing Videos across devices - Adobe Primetime delivers TV to every IP-connected screen. It gives programmers and operators modular capabilities to stream and monetize video across desktops and devices. Media companies can now deliver personalized ads across platforms, and ensure that a single user with more than one device doesn’t have to watch the same ad with more than the desired number of exposures. It is used by NBC Sports, Comcast, Turner Broadcasting, Time Warner Cable and others.

  • Programmatic ad buying continues to be a challenge for today’s advertisers, with too much focus placed on display ad bidding and multiple data vendors providing different buying methods and billing practices. Adobe announced a solution, combining a new algorithmic engine and key advancements to Audience Core Services to unify audience targeting, buying, data and billing in one platform. The solution integrates audience and behavior data from a broad range of sources (including Web, mobile app and CRM systems), automates the execution of paid media campaigns through Adobe Media Optimizer (formerly Efficient Frontier – a demand side platform) and lets marketers use the same audience segments across earned and owned campaigns to deliver consistent experiences. Today only 5% of advertising is bought programmatically but that number is growing 50% year over year

  • New Campaign Tool - Adobe Campaign (Formerly Neolane) allows marketers to create and manage sophisticated email campaigns across devices. Oracle, IBM etc. already have products and it allows Adobe to have a similar offering in its marketing stack.

  • Better integration of Adobe Creative with Adobe Marketing – Adobe announced the 25th anniversary of Photoshop which reminds you that creative is a bigger business than marketing for Adobe. Historically, the creative business (based out of SFO) and marketing business (based out of Salt Lake city) have operated separately but you can see steps in trying to integrate them seamlessly in some of the products like AEM.

  • Significant Improvements in Adobe Experience Manager – Adobe 6.x (formerly CQ) has some significant architectural, HTML5 compliant templates and DAM (Digital Asset Management) improvements. It also offers Assets on Demand option which is SAAS version with many features of DAM and Scene 7 combined. The new DAM will help us to manage our digital assets in a much better and collaborative way.

  • Contribution analysis – Digital Analysts spend countless hours searching for explanations to change in metrics. They have had to carry out this time- consuming analysis on their own by importing large amounts of data in data warehouse. Until now. Contribution Analysis scans all variables (conversion traffic etc.) to explain changes in metrics and identify what contributes most to an anomaly.

  • Mobile app development - Adobe announced a new mobile app framework that gives companies an end-to-end workflow to manage the complete mobile app lifecycle — from app development and user acquisition to app analytics and user engagement. Also, half a dozen mobile app technology providers are integrating their tools into Adobe Marketing Cloud.

  • Marketing extends to IoT (Internet-of-Things) - Adobe Marketing cloud enables brands to extend the impact of marketing across more touch points including wearables and IoT devices. Adobe Experience Manager Screens and Adobe Target now bring personalized experiences to physical spaces like retail stores and hotel rooms and enable marketers to optimize content across any IoT device. The new IoT SDK lets brands measure and analyze consumer engagement across any of those devices. And new Intelligent Location capabilities allow companies to use GPS and iBeacon data to optimize their physical brand presence.

Key Observations

It gets reinforced in a summit like this that while the growth rate of overall marketing spend will probably not change in a big way, its composition will change dramatically and technology will command a much larger share in the coming years.

Is it a good idea to standardize on One Marketing Cloud?

When it comes to standardizing on one marketing cloud, the reality is that very few companies have a green field when it comes to their marketing stack. Almost everyone has different legacy components, across different business units. For instance, CRM uses its own set of technologies and the ecommerce team might be using say its Oracle/Endeca stack.  Basically, it is a heterogeneous marketing technology world. One marketing cloud vendor will not be able to satisfy all requests because marketing in Fortune 100 companies is just too big for that. Also, we are in an era of unprecedented innovation, especially as it applies to digital marketing, and companies who lock themselves completely into one marketing cloud are at risk of missing out on hugely disruptive technologies both now and in the future.

Having a Holistic view from Implementation Standpoint

Marketing cloud concept is pioneered by software vendors – probably not by organizations like yours. So let’s ignore what the vendors are saying for a moment and try to understand what it really means for us? Many organizations have implemented many different pieces of Adobe stack already. So you need to have better clarity about what new technologies and incremental changes in the existing technologies will mean for you. You need to understand it holistically and have an integrated view of all the pieces of marketing cloud. Technology management is all about deciding which changes are adapted – also when and how those changes are adapted.

Connecting the Dots  

Technology and new initiatives are always changing and impacting the whole digital ecosystem. You have to tirelessly connect the dots and use data as the glue which binds different pieces together. Related bits of data are worth more when they’re combined. In order to be successful in a digital world, you still have to go to the basics and spend more time to understand your changing requirements. No vendor or a marketing cloud can really help us in that. In the end, data, insights, our vision, processes and governance are the true differentiator. If all of your competitors also use the same pieces of technology in the marketing cloud then how can we truly differentiate?

No comments:

Post a Comment