Checking In On Adobe’s Neolane Acquisition, One Year Later

StephanDietrichWhen Adobe Systems acquired French cross-channel campaign management company Neolane last summer for $600 million, it gained the ability to manage customer data at scale.

Stephan Dietrich, cofounder of Neolane and now VP Americas for Adobe Campaign, one of six products that comprise the Adobe Marketing Cloud stack, said one of the drivers for joining Adobe was the creative value proposition it presented. As marketing has moved from manual spreadsheets to a “NASDAQ trading floor” of real-time bidded media, one of the most critical components of real-time campaign delivery is ensuring digital assets are actually accessible.

Dietrich spoke with AdExchanger about why Neolane sold to Adobe and what its integration status is.

AdExchanger: One year later, what were the benefits of being part of Adobe’s cloud vs. going it alone as a standalone point solution?

STEPHAN DIETRICH: Adobe quickly understood that within their Marketing Cloud, there was a need to have a system of engagement. You had a relationship marketing platform that was able to do email marketing, direct mail, inbound/outbound channels and a way to manage direct relationships with identified profiles. They presented the vision they had from the Creative Cloud to the Marketing Cloud to bring the right and left brain together all the way from Photoshop to delivering all the offers in real time, whether it’s a display ad, an experience on the website or a mobile tablet, or an email or direct mail piece.

(We were not willing to sell the company) in 2012 because we were making $60 million in revenue, growing at 45% a year. When we saw the vision of Adobe, we were blown away.

If we stayed as a standalone company, we couldn’t compete against such a value proposition. You have to ask yourself, is this the right time? And Adobe had the right DNA for us because marketing is all they do as opposed to all the other players in which marketing is not front and center. We decided to take a great offer, which was a 10x multiple, and it was great for our customers and partners.

Your relationship with Adobe dates back further.

We were a partner of Omniture as early as 2008. We went to our first Adobe Summit as a partner and Omniture became Adobe in 2010. We knew each other all along the way. We were signing deals together. We had joint customers. What happened was, Adobe started to build a Marketing Cloud beginning with Omniture as one of the core foundational pieces, adding Day Software, Demdex, Efficient Frontier, Offermatica. All of the previous systems and platforms Adobe had purchased and put under the Marketing Cloud didn’t manage customer data. So Neolane became the first system that was able to take a lot of identified data, stitch it together and build a single view of the customer for marketing purposes and tie that into the broader Adobe Marketing Cloud with all of that anonymous marketing data. That’s what we call the Master Marketing Record, which has been constructed by the different solutions of the Marketing Cloud, and is informing and feeding all the different solutions with information about a specific customer record.

What about Demdex or Adobe Audience Manager, your DMP? Has the integration happened?

With Campaign, we have a lot of identified data. We know exactly who the customer is, what’s their lifetime value, what’s their recency, frequency, monetary scores, etc. so we have a lot of information and the objective is to inform other systems to make better decisions. This is where Shared Audiences comes into play. You have the Master Marketing Record, which is cutting across as a core service. It can have audiences, and you can define those in Adobe Analytics and Adobe Target and share them across different solutions.

This is what we’re working on now and Adobe Campaign will feed the Master Marketing record with a lot of very useful information for better decision making typically in DSPs, or display. Core services are services shared by all of the solutions that are either feeding data and or consuming data from the core services. The other one is tag management, and Adobe has acquired Satellite and made that a free core services across all the solutions so we have a unified Adobe tag, whether it’s an ad display tag, email opening tag, etc., and it all goes in to the Master Marketing record.

How has your customer count grown as Adobe Campaign?

We don’t communicate specific customers for the Campaign product anymore because we’re part of the broader family, but we’re starting to do a number of cross-sells. We typically do pretty big deals, so those cycles are typically three to six months, but we’ve seen very strong traction there and the other way around. I think the synergy effect of the Marketing Cloud is very visible. With the brand of Adobe behind us, I think they not only invested $600 million in the company, but also are investing in the resources to increase the size of the teams, R&D, professional services, and to speak at a high level – we went from 45% growth to triple-digit growth.

What about Adobe’s reseller agreement with SAP? Are you seeing joint deployments with Campaign?

We already had a lot of SAP customers as customers even prior to that partnership. We probably had 30-40 customers that were heavy SAP shops. We had ad hoc implementations where there were file exchanges or different types of integrations. Data is the fuel of the system of engagement for Adobe Campaign and we needed to get it from different systems. SAP is that system for transactional, ecommerce, warranty, ERP data for a given customer. We manage up to several terabytes of data with transactional data, demographic, behavioral data, and in a number of cases we need very robust technology like (Adobe’s big-data engine) HANA. We can really leverage HANA to be the backbone of Adobe Campaign for major implementations. The other way around, SAP provides us a major route to market into their major customer portfolio which has very limited overlap with the Adobe historical portfolio because we go after very specific market segments.

During Adobe’s latest earnings, there was some talk about co-Digital Publishing Suite and Marketing Cloud deployments. Is Adobe now merging the creative with campaign delivery?

We are connecting the Marketing Cloud with Creative Cloud and getting a lot of traction. One example is Motorola Solutions – a B2B customer. They (create) communication systems they sell to schools, architects, football teams – a very broad variety of products. They are using our tool to personalize all the offers on their website, so when you show up on a site and you know who it is, they’ve begun to personalize the creative based on past behavior, areas of interest, and they soon realized that with the number of geos, customers and prospects they sell to, it has become an explosion of assets they have to create and maintain all the time. That’s a perfect example of how you can only get to one-to-one personalization if you bring creative and marketing together. Otherwise, you are just hitting the wall at some point because you cannot create enough assets. So you have to go upstream and streamline the whole workflow process-from the creation to the delivery of assets.

Acxiom just grabbed LiveRamp. What is Adobe doing with offline?

Offline data is in the very core of Neolane from the beginning. From the beginning we had direct mail, and we have clients like Sephora or ULTA that are very big on direct mail. We had always onboarded offline data, whether it’s transactional data from POS systems (a great number of customers give us POS data – Sephora Europe gives us every POS receipt) and we track attribution against that to match it back with promotions. The onboarding of offline data has been part of our DNA from the get go. We then added all the online data, and we feed all that into the Master Marketing Record. For us, it’s not new.

I think what Acxiom does with LiveRamp, and they’re repositioning, is focusing on data and getting subscription out of data. Acxiom has been doing a lot of things so they’re divesting a number of pieces and focusing on their core business, which is data. We at Adobe are not providing data. We’re allowing every customer to manage their own first party data. We are combining that data with content and serving it in context. From that standpoint, we’re on very parallel paths in two different businesses.


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