Adobe GM Brad Rencher On Auditude, Omniture And Strategy Ahead

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Brad RencherBrad Rencher is SVP and GM, Omniture Business Unit, Adobe.

On Tuesday, he discussed his company's acquisition of Auditude, data-driven marketing, and the Adobe strategy ahead.

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AdExchanger.com:  What were some of the triggers involved in deciding to acquire Auditude?

BR: It came down to us. Our publisher customers were asking Adobe to help them monetize their content in ways that we weren't currently able to facilitate. Adobe's well‑known today for helping publishers create that content and increasingly to distribute that content via our Digital Publishing Suite, and then measure that content with Omniture. But we were missing the fundamental building block in the middle, which is to monetize, a pillar of the overall publisher solution.

So for us, stepping in with Auditude, we’ve taken a view that video advertising is an area  where we have a unique point of view with our technology suite and we're excited to grow.

Can you talk a little bit about the company's vision for video and video advertising?

Today, video advertising, while it's growing, the numbers are quite underwhelming in terms of the total value that's being monetized via advertising online. A lot of that has to do with the fact that publishers aren't putting their premium content online because they just can't monetize it in the same way that they currently can with television.

In the next few years, as television becomes IP enabled, and whether you distribute it over the TV, tablet, or a mobile device, it's going to be the same distribution and monetizing system across all of those.

So in addition to Auditude and our digital publishing suite, we have an authentication system that we've been working on with several publishers, cable and satellite companies called Adobe Pass. It’s an authentication system where, if I subscribe to HBO on DirecTV - and want to use the HBO GO tablet application or go online and watch HBO - it allows me to log in with my DirecTV credentials and authenticates back against the DirecTV subscriber list, which then gives me access to HBO content, whether that's through the application or on the site.

What you're seeing from Adobe is, no matter how publishers are looking to monetize and distribute their content, we want to be there and be their partner.

Let's swing back to the Auditude acquisition and advertisers. What would you say is in it for advertisers?

Our vision is that single channel advertising has seen its last days - meaning, any technology company or service provider that's looking to help advertisers monetize well in search, display, social, or even video, their days are numbered to where CMOs and advertisers are looking for partners that can help them with this multi‑channel advertising problem. Meaning… what's the interplay between search and display? What's the interplay between display and social as brand advertisers are starting to step meaningfully into the social advertising realm?

What we're building for advertisers is a multi‑channel campaign execution platform where they can understand, "What is the channel that works best for me? What's the measurement? What's the ROI on that?" Then, "What are the indirect impacts of those different channels on each other as I'm thinking about my marketing campaign holistically?"

So that's what we're building on the advertiser side.

How does this address the offline world?

The digital channel that we see stitching together online and offline, in a bigger way today, is mobile. We tell our customers that mobile is a mindset, it's not just a device. What that means is, we all take our smartphones with us wherever we go and that is a digital experience. No matter where I am in the offline world, I tend to now interact with digital via my mobile device, whether I'm taking pictures, using Google Maps or I'm in the store and basically doing UPC scanning. For our marketers, they're looking at it and saying, "There's not any truly offline experiences anymore."

Can you talk about how you plan on integrating Auditude’s team?

We’re excited about the employees that are coming on‑board, a talented group of people that are bringing a lot of expertise and great technology to Adobe. The immediate plan is that they're going to fit in our Digital Media Group, which basically does everything from the creation of the concept, the video creation, to the distribution via the Digital Publishing Suite. Then we'll integrate with all the Omniture solutions on the back end, including SiteCatalyst, Test & Target and Demdex with our audience management system.

Today is day one, but we've already got a roadmap of what we're going to be working on for the next 12 months. The employees from Auditude are going to play a big part in our future.

Are there channels right now that you're thinking about addressing - perhaps adding an acquisition or two...? So you just brought up social, and maybe it's display. Are there holes there that you're thinking that you need to fill?

We’re not in the market today, but I think that we can certainly bulk up. Like every company, we've got a bunch of internal organic initiatives where we're doing development. There may be markets that we're in that we just decide that we need more scale. So we might look externally. And certainly, emerging markets and channels that we may not be in, we're watching those and will continue to do so. And if it's appropriate, we'll add an acquisition as well.

It seems there's a bigger opportunity at Adobe in bringing the creative suites together with the data‑driven side of Omniture. And it seems like you're moving in that direction. Can you talk a little bit about how you see that today and where it's going?

Yes. Let me set the frame and then I'll talk in terms of what some of the specific things are that we're doing.

Today at Adobe we have two declared growth initiatives. We have digital media, which is really the creative side of the house, including some of the publisher monetization [efforts] that we talked about. Then we have digital marketing.

The digital marketing business, today, houses Omniture, which houses Day, the web content management company we bought last year and other related technology.

You're right in that these businesses are coming together and the areas of overlap are in two areas.

First, I'm not sure what the percentage is exactly, but approximately 90 percent of the digital content in the world is created using Adobe tools.

We're increasingly adding analytics and optimization technology to the content at the point that it's created. This gives us better instrumentation and it gives our marketers better data.

Because it's a little bit like the aftermarket stereo you put in your car, which is never as good as the one that comes from the factory, because it's just better integrated.

When you go back and try to instrument content after it's created, it's just never as good as if you actually thought about it up front. So we are doing that.

The other interesting thing from a data standpoint is the metadata attached to all the creative and helps inform about what's in that picture.  So, there's metadata that's tagged at the point of creation that no one in the world is collecting today to understand how that can be used for advertising and marketing. And we're doing that, as well.

The second point where we're integrating is on the publisher side and publisher monetization because most of the large publishers in the world use Adobe for their analytics to understand which content is being consumed and how they can optimize their site better to increase engagement.

So those are two areas we're working on today.

Any thoughts on the ad network and exchange space today? Anything surprising you there?

What we call ad networks today are going to look very different five or ten years down the road. It has to do with the type of economics that are flowing between advertisers and marketers - and with data essentially democratizing the entire advertising workflow.

The economics that exchanges and networks are pursuing today aren’t going to be sustainable long term. Their business models are going to have to evolve.

I think that it really plays into the thesis of what Adobe is trying to do which is we don't own inventory. We don't want to own inventory.

What we want to do is to be a partner to our customers, both advertisers and publishers, and help them drive their campaigns and programs in order to get the maximum return for their business.

That puts pressure on exchanges and networks to continually show that the value that they're adding is worth the significant economics that they're taking today.

Our point of view is there's going to be room for a large, independent player like Adobe that has the entire end‑to‑end marketing stack – such that if I'm a CMO or an agency, do I want to worry about integrating every last little point solution, into our solution stack? No, it’s an integrated suite to where I can do search, display, mobile. I can measure across all those attributes, the impact of the campaigns across each of those channels.

The other thing that Adobe has that the other advertising‑related folks can't do is we go well beyond just landing pages. We've got a full‑blown enterprise class web content management system that not only can do the first landing page, we can control the entire site experience soup to nuts where it's not just doing the campaign management - that's only going to get you to the landing page. But the conversion and the ROI really comes once you actually engage them in your full digital experience, how do you actually drive that return up over time?

And by controlling that all the way down through the checkout - that's a unique perspective that we're going to drive and take advantage of.

Follow Brad Rencher (@bradrencher), Adobe (@adobe), Omniture (@omniture) and AdExchanger.com (@adexchanger) on Twitter.

By John Ebbert

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