Adobe Summit US: the talking points

06 April 2018Leigh Gammons

The 2018 Adobe US Summit is over. Last week Las Vegas played temporary home to 13,000 marketing technologists, all looking to Adobe to help them become Experience Makers within their organisation. And, as Adobe’s Global Digital Experience Solutions Partner of the Year, Cognifide and our fellow WPP agencies were there in force. Here’s the lowdown:

People buy experiences, not products

The fundamental truth - and challenge - facing every business today is this, people buy experiences, not products
Shantanu Narayen, Adobe CEO

This statement from Shantanu’s keynote pretty much set the tone of the conversation for Summit. Consumers want much more than a transactional relationship with brands and enterprises are rising to the challenge. Today one in three Adobe customers have Adobe Experience Manager (AEM), compared to one in ten five years ago. Summit unveiled various tech advancements that Adobe are hoping will make them first choice for the experience maker, many, unsurprisingly powered by Sensei, Adobe’s AI platform. More of that later.

To make experiences easier to deliver, one focus is on tighter integration. For instance, Adobe are pushing to bridge the gap between the creative and the marketer. AEM Asset Link will put an end to moving between solutions when creating an experience, giving access to all AEM DAM assets via Creative Cloud tools such as Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign.

That wasn’t the only innovation announced to focus on accelerating the delivery of experiences. Adobe introduced the latest Cloud Platform that has taken leaps forward in helping marketers to react to behavioural data in real time. This new Experience System of Record puts all behavioural data in one place and builds in Sensei services for swift execution. This appears to back up our theory that we’re going to be leaning harder on AI to quickly churn through behavioural data for us in a post GDPR world.

Don’t be an experience thinker, be an experience maker

Although they are a tech vendor, Adobe know it’s not all about the tech. Another innovation announced at Summit is the Experience League. This is an Adobe partner service that aims to bring people quickly up to speed to make the most of their Experience Cloud tools. It’s all about community, training and expert support.

Brad Rencher, EVP and GM of the Experience Cloud, focused on the importance of people and fostering talent in his keynote. Whilst updating technology is certainly part of the transformational challenge, bringing people up to speed and changing mindsets is the other end of the spectrum. He distinguished between ‘Experience Thinkers’ and ‘Experience Makers’. The latter being the disruptors who are really challenging the status quo. In his words, ‘they are not customer centric, they’re customer obsessed’.

To prove the point, Adobe introduced us to a fantastic line up of experience maker role models who have changed the game in their field; from Sir Richard Branson to NFL star, J.J. Watt, who turned people’s lives around after Hurricane Harvey via an incredible crowdfunding effort.  

Adobe Sensei

2018 will be the year that AI becomes mainstream in marketing. That was the prediction of our own CEO, Miro Walker at the start of the year and so it was no surprise that Sensei played centre stage at Summit.

There are lot of different people around the Experience Cloud doing different things with Sensei.  

Within the Creative Cloud, we have Creative and Content Intelligent Services performing auto-crop, auto-tag, image quality, colour swatches and image cutouts.  These are important capabilities that clients working product catalogues will use to save time and to auto generate and maintain asset taxonomies.

But being able to recognise images and smart tag them is just the beginning: rights management adds another twist. We caught up with some Adobe consultants that are working out in the field and they shared a couple of interesting rights management use cases.  Say you have the permission to use an image, why would you still be fined when using the image in certain demographics:

  • A picture of a man in a canoe is used on a US website.  If he’s not wearing a life jacket, that’s an instant couple of hundred thousand dollars fine.
  • A picture of a car driving down a mountain appears on another US website. That’s a half million dollar fine if that road is not paved.

Adobe are addressing issues like this with Sensei content intelligent services, coupled with domain-specific rules, to automate demographic sensitive checks of assets at scale.  This is important because fines like these wipe out campaign budgets if overlooked. This is when the application of AI becomes really useful.

Spotlight on retail

The emphasis of experience over transaction is never more apparent than in retail. We caught up with Adobe Product Marketing to chat through some consumer insights

  • The race is on for brands to get to their known customers.  They have your data but can’t use it until you give them permission. So they need to get you to register to grant your consent. 
  • How do they encourage registration? The push for off-platform content marketing is massive in retail. This sharing of content is essential to promote brands from peer to peer.  However, consumers don’t always share for the sake of it, but brands who are promoting a social conscience - buy this dress and we’ll donate X to Y - are seeing sharing explode.  With social responsibility on the rise, the need for better off-platform content marketing grows.
  • Incredibly, only 20% of retail purchases happen online. The in-store experience is still king for the actual purchase. And for some brands 90% of those online purchases are mobile which would indicate that consumers are buying on the move, perhaps as part of their in-store experience. Again, do we need any more proof that the experience transcends the product?

Restructuring the organisation

As marketing technology consultants, we’re constantly talking to clients about new ways of working. Technology will not change the way that you work and return results for the business without fundamentally changing the operating model that drives it.

So interestingly Adobe announced that they too are restructuring, moving away from product silos to operationalise the people against the platform as a product strategy.  There are now three people responsible for marketing, productising and building the Experience Cloud for Adobe respectively. We’re looking forward to working with you, guys.

So, that’s Summit in a nutshell! Perhaps we’ll see you in London for more Adobe conversation in May or join us at our very own Unconference on 2nd July for more discussion and debate around the Martech space.

Author: Leigh Gammons
Published: 06 April 2018

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