Digital's rise into the heart of marketing: Adobe's Brad Rencher

Adobe global digital marketing leader, Brad Rencher, talks about how digital needs to be part of a unified customer journey and the CMO battle between data and creativity

Despite their obvious importance, digital and social remain distinct activities within many marketing teams. But CMOs must integrate these channels into the one customer journey if they’re to remain at the top of their game, Adobe’s digital chief claims.

CMO sat down with the software vendor’s senior vice-president and general manager of digital marketing, Brad Rencher, to discuss the implications of digital marketing and technology on the role of the CMO, along with creativity versus science, during the recent Adobe Digital Marketing Symposium in Sydney.

For Rencher, modern marketers must harness an increasingly integrated offline and online channel experience. This is something Adobe itself is trying to address, he said, through its recent purchase of France-based campaign software management provider, Neolane. The deal will see Adobe bring a cross-channel campaign management framework into its Marketing Cloud offering, bringing together offline and online data streams into a unified approach.

“The digital marketing trend is not a fad, or something that will play out in the next one or two years,” he said. “This is a macro growth trend that will continue for the next decade or longer.

“We’re not far away from dropping ‘digital’ on marketing.”

By the same token, social is a part of marketing today, however people may perceive it differently, Rencher said. “Your social media programs and campaigns, and how you think about them, should be put in the context of your overall business and marketing objectives,” he said.

“What happened [historically] in a lot of organisations is that one person was told they were the social media expert, and to go and figure out Twitter, or Facebook. We’re multiple years into that and there are tools now available to help brands engage and calculate the value of things such as a Facebook ‘like’.

“If you’re in an elevator and you have 15 floors to explain to your CFO why you’re spending so much money on Facebook marketing, you can’t do that by saying you had 100,000 more likes. It really is getting back to terms a CFO can understand, and measuring what the value of these social activities are as part of your overall approach.

“Today, marketing is all about the numbers and understanding how to segment data, utilise big data, back-end technology and databases,” he added.

Real-time responsiveness

Hand-in-hand with the rise of digital is the speed with which marketers must make decisions about their customers and respond to them with engaging and relevant content. Rencher labels this trend ‘the last millisecond’, and said engaging customers today is dependent on being able to bring all your data assets together in an instant, to provide a complete picture of that individual.

“You don’t have six or eight weeks to figure out whether I should be a customer of yours or not. You have milliseconds,” he said. “When I come to your website, use your iPhone app, or come to your Facebook page, you have milliseconds to understand who I am, if I’m a return visitor, if I’m a loyalty member, or what the offers I may respond to if you’re a retailer. You have to be able to do all this.”

Faced with such a challenge, CMOs need to increasingly become numbers men and women and embrace technology platforms that scale, Rencher said. As a global digital marketing leader of a technology company, it’s no surprise he is supportive of science and data analytics playing a vital role in marketing.

One of the most hyped up data trends at present is the concept of big data, a mixture of unstructured information from an ever-increasing array of channels and information sources. Marketers should be making use of these big data assets to find signals reflecting customer behaviour, experience and desires, Rencher said.

“What’s important for marketers is getting to the data that matters,” he said. “There’s no value in having a Hadoop database under your desk, because just having that data isn’t going to do you any good or help you do your job better.

“Look for the data that provides a signal; what are your customers telling you they want from you? That’s what marketers should be listening to in order to provide the relevant experience.”

Rencher also advised CMOs to ensure any big data repository is tied to their marketing execution systems such as Web content management platforms, email engines and circulation information. “Otherwise you’ll have a mismatch in what you know and what experience you are delivering,” he said.

Rencher’s background lends itself to the data-driven marketing cause. For the past four years, he has sat atop the global digital marketing division at Adobe following the vendor’s US$1.8bn acquisition of Web and digital analytics group, Omniture. The purchase was Adobe’s first major step into digital marketing solutions, which sit alongside its traditional creative media business. He also studied marketing at the Kellogg School of Management.

Rencher actually commenced his career, however, in finance, and worked for Morgan Stanley’s technology investment team, where he executed mergers and acquisitions and capital-market financings.

While some marketing departments have rallied around data, there are still plenty burying their heads in the sand to their own detriment, Rencher said. Agreeing with Starcom MediaVest CEO, Laura Desmond’s analogy of ‘the lost generation’, he claimed said these marketers are in danger of becoming irrelevant in future.

“The skills they used to arrive to where they are at within an organisation are not the same skills they’re going to be able to leverage in the future to be successful,” he claimed.

Despite this, Rencher recognised the current battle between creativity and effectiveness and said CMOs can reconcile the art and the science.

“Adobe at its core is a creative company. We understand that creativity process to enable people to express what’s on their minds, in their hearts and for marketers to use that to engage with key audiences. That still matters,” he said.

“But I do think the opportunity to use data, to amplify and augment that, and provide new channels for marketers to reach their audiences to better leverage their creativity is how the market is evolving, and where we need to land.”

Related digital stories

Follow CMO on Twitter: @CMOAustralia, take part in the CMO Australia conversation on LinkedIn: CMO Australia, or join us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CMOAustralia

Signup to CMO’s new email newsletter to receive your weekly dose of targeted content for the modern marketing chief.

Join the CMO newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Show Comments

Supporting Association

Blog Posts

Why 2017 will herald a resurgence of values-based marketing

It doesn’t take long for predictions to become predictable: The rise and rise of Facebook; advancements in analytics; the normalisation of chatbots; personalisation, programmatic, automation, authenticity… The prediction that’s missing from these lists is that in 2017 we will witness a resurgence of values-based marketing.

Jacqueline Burns

Founder, Market Expertise

Why customer experience driven growth is set to take off

Our overall brand perceptions are invariably shaped by our experiences. And loyal customer relationships can be severed in moments by a negative service interaction.

Consistency and conversation: How branding and advertising can work better together

Advertising and branding are two of the most visible outputs of marketing, which is why getting them right is so important. However, too often the line between branding and advertising becomes blurred. This means advertising activity can be out of sync with brand, resulting in poor results for both functions.

Dan Ratner

managing director, uberbrand

Someone needs a swift kick up the bum for such an idiotic idea.

random

​Why a degree is no longer enough to get you hired as a skilled marketer

Read more

The frequent flyer programs are the new profit machines for airlines all over the world, as they have morphed to be mass marketing machin...

Steve@iFLYflat

Velocity frequent flyers program strong performer in mixed half-year for Virgin

Read more

Hi Jennifer, thanks for sharing these info regarding the digital marketing trends.I've created a related video to this topic, would you m...

Fabio Carry

Predictions: 17 digital marketing trends for 2017

Read more

Great news. Marketing automation can be very useful for companies at various stages of development. With so many tools out there it's bet...

Ben

How HBF rolled out marketing automation in eight months

Read more

I read a report that the business sector in Australia as a whole have yet to fully harness and see the proactive change that predictive a...

Alex Martin

Report: Predictive analytics, IoT, machine learning battle it out for marketing dollars

Read more

Latest Podcast

More podcasts

Sign in