Brad Rencher, SVP and GM of the digital marketing business unit at Adobe Systems, oversees the six-product-strong Adobe Marketing Cloud, which crossed the $1 billion mark in business for fiscal year 2013. Onstage at Industry Preview 2014, Rencher said that ad tech, marketing and enterprise technology are “becoming one and the same.”
It’s certainly reflective in Adobe’s direction, given its string of acquisitions in recent years, from its most recent buy of campaign-management platform Neolane to Web content-management company Day Software and video ad platform Auditude. Rencher sat down with AdExchanger after his presentation.
AdExchanger: You mentioned a "separation of church and state" in media and marketing. What did you mean by this?
BRAD RENCHER: As an advertising-technology industry, we’ve done a great job with the unknown data – the behavioral attributes and that slicing and dicing – but then to bring the CRM and loyalty marketers in, you have to be able to tell a broader story. We talk about a master marketing profile and it can’t sit in a CRM database because it’s not real time and something new has to be created. Why do we think that sending an SMS text message or in-app email is any different than buying a search or display ad? It’s all part of the customer journey. As we’ve been thinking about building our offering and Adobe Marketing Cloud, from an acquisitions standpoint, we’ve been building the different pieces. The biggest challenge is bringing data together, which is a big industry challenge.
Can you elaborate on that challenge?
As an industry, the technology is pretty close. We’re pretty close to having a technology platform that can provide the data, get the content, send that out and do that personalization at massive scale. As an industry, and we talk about this to customers, we’re challenged internally ourselves. How do you start to create teams around a specific workflow of the customer journey [if, for example] you’re a social marketer and all you use is a tool that was created for you that’s not connected to the broader IT infrastructure? But I’ve seen organizations like [Marketing Cloud customers] Chanel and REI that have started to create these little SWAT teams – where someone doesn’t necessarily think of themselves as a buyer of display ads, but more like, “I’m on the ski team and my job is to work with the site team, landing page team and everybody downstream,” to create an end-to-end journey for our loyalty skiing customers.
Following your acquisition of Neolane, Adobe said it would phase out CPM-based pricing beginning this week. What was the logic behind that?
The bottom line is we needed to get out of the way as technology vendors so marketers can build a customer journey and engage with their customers in a way that makes sense. Neolane has been a fantastic acquisition for Adobe. It’s great technology and a great team, but the big differentiation there is it’s not about email. It’s not about any one channel. It’s really orchestrating what that journey needs to be and then having the execution capabilities to go send an SMS or in-app message, and Neolane brought those execution capabilities.
It’s bringing that database of CRM and loyalty information so we can put that together with our DMP, AudienceManager. Anytime you’re acquiring businesses, the strategy can be right and the technology can be a fit, but if the cultures don’t fit, it falls apart. The Neolane team is a fantastic team, so I’m really excited for what we’ll do with that in 2014. Neolane was very strong in Europe but in the US they weren’t as well known. That’s a business we feel good about.
Is Neolane, now Adobe Campaign, currently integrated with your DMP?
The [first integration] was with Experience Manager – the Web content-management platform. We’ll see some more announcements coming soon that are pretty exciting.
Where are you making the most investment, channel-wise?
In terms of the channels where we’re exceptionally strong, Web is the clear leader. With email, we’ve got big capabilities on email and mobile with Neolane. We already had social capabilities we were executing to. I would say the areas we are making outsize investments are in mobile and in video. We all see where usage is going from a mobile standpoint. On video, we have a business called Adobe Primetime, which is not just a video ad-serving platform or a video ad-tracking platform, but is really this end-to-end, TV-anywhere platform.
We partner with large media companies that are looking to broadcast events and content, to where you can go in, authenticate, and it streams and [surfaces advertisements that are] basically stitched right in to the stream. We do that entire end-to-end video content platform. It’s a big investment for us and a product we launched last April.
What will Adobe Marketing Cloud develop in 2014?
The thing that’s holding the industry back even more than the data and technology is content velocity. On the creative side of our business, with over a million subscribers who are using InDesign and Photoshop and Illustrator to create the content that marketers are going to use, it’s all stored in Adobe’s cloud, where you don’t have to wait three weeks and get a USB stick or send an email or however a company is distributing its content. It’s all in the Adobe infrastructure. In 2014, we will see this burst of content marketing and creativity. For us, that’s a competitive differentiator no one can touch.
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