At Adobe's 2012 Digital Marketing Summit in Salt Lake City, Utah, SVP and GM of Digital Marketing, Brad Rencher discussed his company's digital marketing initiatives (read Adobe's Summit blog for new product announcements), the data-driven ad ecosystem and more with AdExchanger.
AdExchanger: At a macro level, why do you think there are 4,000 people gathered here for your Summit?
BR: I think people understand that there's something going on in digital marketing, that there's something that they should be paying attention to. They're looking for help. This is a conference that Adobe has been doing, and Omniture before, for 11 years.
It started with the people who are data analysts - those people that used to be tucked into the dark corner of the office, that no one wanted to talk to. They just generated reports. Those people are now being taken into the boardroom and asked, "What's happening? What should we be doing better?"
Nobody's happy with where they are in digital - even the most forward‑leaning of my customers. These type of events, where you bring a crowd of this scale together, is really valuable.
Let’s talk about the CMO. What will be your success metrics for Adobe's Digital Marketing Suite strategy as it relates to the CMO – what's in it for them? After all, the "lifespan" of a CMO’s position is known to be short in duration.
The average tenure of a CMO is measured in months and not years.
I will measure success when CMOs' tenure starts to increase, because then I know that they're able to actually go into a boardroom and justify the expense and "Why am I spending on branding?"
The CMO can say, "This is why. Here's the return."
So, if you're a CMO and just digging into data-driven digital strategy, what would you do? Any tips?
If I were a CMO and I didn't understand digital, then you've got to find a way to go through a crash course. You've got to find someone in your organization, or someone external, to come in and - not necessarily make recommendations for what you need to be doing - but learn what people are doing and what the actual power and the possibilities of data and optimization actually are. Just learn.
The problem is, it can't be done in a two‑hour crash course. This space is far too complex and far too dynamic to pick it up in an afternoon conference room meeting. You've got to go out and feel it. It's got to be tangible.
How has Demdex, now AudienceManager, and even the data management platform model in general, evolved in the past year?
Demdex was a very strategic acquisition for us. Clearly, the data management market is early and publishers understanding about what it is and what it takes advantage of – well, it's like other monikers that are thrown out before they should be. As the definition evolved, people start to lose track of what it means. Data management is one of those.
But Demdex was strategic because it answered, “What do we have in those petabytes of data that we manage for our customers?” We have behavioral information that's very rich, and continues to evolve.
What do publishers, in particular, want to do with that? As the model has gone away from impression‑based advertising to audiences, they need to be able to enrich it and make it actionable, to where they can impact their revenue stream, which is ad sales.
Demdex brought an ability to dynamically and at massive scale match between what's happening on the site and what's happening with other trusted parties such that in real-time, you can get that to ad sales and you can expose it to DSPs.
Regarding Adobe’s competitive set such as Google and IBM, how would you say you differentiate today?
We believe that our content heritage gives us a unique perspective within marketing. At the end of the day CMOs worldwide know and trust Adobe because they've been using our solutions their entire careers.
We are positioning our organization to be the marketing stack of technologies. We're going to have our interests aligned with them. Josh [Cogswell] from Viacom talked about how it was important for them to have a technology platform provider that wasn't taking that data and then going out and competing with them in the market.
I think that is one of our competitive differentiators that we're going to continue to provide. We want to win when our customers win. We're not an ad network. We're not an exchange, we're not out trying to drive our business that way. We are a technology provider that helps our customers drive solutions.
Also from a competitive set standpoint, our heritage of that content creation - and moving content into a digital asset management system that's prepared for real-time marketing campaigns, real time delivery of content - that workflow is something that is unique to Adobe. Now we need to go execute on that.
What I tell my team is we need to behave like the startup. We've got to be faster. You think about Google or IBM, which are two of the names that you mentioned. Those two organizations are both bigger than Adobe, which I like because then I can be more agile. With Adobe’s content heritage, we get those integrated workflows done and we can compete.
With your Efficient Frontier acquisition which is also part of a vibrant competitive set, how do you see it differentiating going forward?
The differentiation that Efficient Frontier and Adobe will have going forward is taking that multichannel view such that our customers don't live in silos. You don't just use search, you use display ads, social networks and probably a few other things. And, what we demoed today is that you can seamlessly go between search, display, and social [with Efficient Frontier].
This multichannel offering speaks to prediction and the ability to help the CMO understand what's going to happen next and find those hidden gems. That's powerful and that's the future of marketing.
Is Adobe still thinking considering new parts to add to its toolkit, if you will? Acquisition strategy still going?
This space is evolving so quickly that we are constantly asking, for example, "OK. We need this capability. Is that a buy? Is it a build? Is it a partner?” We have a thriving partner ecosystem and many of them are here today [at the Summit] and integrate with our platform.
We don't feel the need to acquire everything that a digital marketer is going to use, but the critical pieces are the platform level components – and we're going to continue to move that forward. We're constantly looking at what we have to make sure that we're staying abreast of what's happening.
Looking at your crystal ball, a year from now when the next Adobe Summit happens, what do you think will be a key takeaway that will be unique to that summit and is not happening today?
Clearly, the evolution of the monetization play in social will be a big trend over the next 12 months as Facebook starts to see the light of day from a public market standpoint. LinkedIn has done it and I think Twitter is going to have a monetization strategy. Pinterest has shown that there are other networks that may have a home, too.
Also, thinking about what appears on the main stage [of the Summit], its publishers saying, "This is what I've done with my data. This is the impact that it’s had."
Third - predictive marketing capabilities is making marketing smarter. And marketing getting smarter comes down to better ad buying, better personalization on the site, and better conversion rates.
By John Ebbert
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