Updated: Adobe puts emphasis on people-based marketing with latest Marketing Cloud updates

Marketing technology vendor also announces a slew of data science capabilities to its digital marketing solution

A fresh cooperative to drive people-based marketing, along with new machine learning and data science capabilities, are among the latest enhancements to Adobe’s Marketing Cloud offering.

Announcing the latest improvements at its annual Adobe Digital Marketing Summit in Las Vegas this week, the software vendor said its focus is very much on driving experience-based, data-driven marketing.

An interesting addition to the mix is Adobe Marketing Cloud Co-op, aimed at helping marketers move away from marketing to devices and instead, market to people.

The cross-device matching initiative will see Adobe stitch together data on different devices used by an individual that interacts with brands participating in the Co-op. The vendor said this will allow brands to connect customers across digital touchpoints and deliver more personalised content. The data will be taken from Co-op members.

“Right now, because it’s so hard to figure out which individuals are on which devices, marketers tend to market to devices, not to people,” Adobe chief privacy officer, MeMe Rasmussen, told press during a pre-event briefing.

“But people buy products. We are trying to come up with way to help companies who join the co-op to market directly to people by sharing device information that identifies an unknown individual by which devices belong to that same individual. If we are getting the same ad on multiple devices, we can now enable marketers to count all devices by one person so we’re not inundating them with multiple ads.”

Co-op members will give Adobe access to cryptographically hashed login IDs and HTTP header data, which fully hides a consumer’s identity. Adobe said it will use this data to create groups of devices used by an unknown person or household. These will surface through its digital marketing solutions, allowing Co-op members can measure, segment, target and advertise directly to individuals across all of their devices.

Rasmussen pointed out that right now, there are two different ways to try and conduct people-based marketing. Brands like Google and Facebook, with huge numbers of logged in users, have been able to keep track of consumers as they move from one device to another. However, these walled gardens are limited to activity through these specific channels.

“Another way is through probabilistic approach, and using other data that might probably associate devices together, not but definitely,” Rasmussen said. “The confidence you’re marketing to same person is in fact, really low.”

Based on early measurements, Adobe expects to link up to 1.2 billion devices seen by Co-op members globally. Rasmussen said Adobe is working with a number of brands, but did not disclose any at this stage. The initiative officially launches in April.

Rasmussen admitted the new initiative comes with lots of privacy issues, and said Adobe’s privacy team has been very involved from the beginning. It has also worked with 451 Research and the Future of Privacy Forum, among others, to meet consumer privacy requirements. She was also adamant personal data in terms of identity is never disclosed, and site visit data is never shared.

Gartner research director on digital marketing, Jennifer Polk, said Adobe's Co-op, along with a select digital technologies that underpin customer engagement, is about gathering data and making data-driven insight accessible to marketers. She noted the concerns about privacy, but pointed out the co-op is anonymising data to protect personally identifiable information and offers extensive opt-out feature for consumers.

"It's also putting guardrails in place to frame the ways that marketers can access this data and insight, like aggregating and packing insight," she told CMO.

"Other platforms, like Facebook, have taken a similar approach through its own audience platform, which enables marketers to upload their first-party data for more intelligent and in-depth insight and targeting, but restricts what types of data they can extract from the platform in order to protect PII and privacy. Obviously these platforms have significant differences, but together they may suggest a trend toward more technology companies investing in data capture and aggregation and pre-packaged analysis and insight."

Data science at the core

In other major enhancements to the Marketing Cloud, Adobe is introducing a series of new machine learning and data analytics capabilities to several core products sitting in the platform. The new capabilities complement 40 existing data science offerings including Contribution Analysis, Anomaly Detection and Shoppable Video.

Smart Tag in Adobe Experience Manager, for example, automatically creates predictive tags for pictures and suggest similar images based on those tags. A new feature in Adobe Analytics, meanwhile, is Segment IQ, which automates discovery of overlaps and differences between audience segments, comparing and identifying behavioural differences as well as insights to address them.

Also coming later this year in Adobe Analytics is Virtual Analyst, a machine learning capability that uses inputs from a marketer and other users as well as changes in the data to suggest relevant insights for better decision making. As an example, based on patterns of usage, the vendor said Virtual Analyst could recognise revenue is an important metric and combine order, unit and social media mentions in a revenue alert.

Within Adobe Target, the vendor has introduced a new ‘lifetime value decision’ feature aimed at helping marketers predict a path of purchases leading to the highest profit from a customer over time. This is based on analysing past customers' interactions to recommend new product or service offers in real-time.

There is also the new Automated Insights for Advertising in Adobe Media Optimizer Advertising Insights, which automates deep analysis and delivers a report in Microsoft PowerPoint with statistical charts, summaries and recommendations, along with predictive subject lines in Adobe Campaign, which analyse data on open rates from previous subject lines to suggest content that will optimise performance.

“Data science in digital marketing is still young,” said Anil Kamath, Adobe Fellow, data science. “Our algorithms are about amplifying the great work of marketers and delivering amazing consumer experiences through personalisation, targeting and segmentation.”

Royal Bank of Scotland head of analytics and Adobe customer, Giles Richardson, welcomed the new capabilities as well as the vendor’s overall efforts to bring data science into all three of its Cloud offerings: Adobe Marketing Cloud, Adobe Creative Cloud, and Adobe Document Cloud.

“Consumers today have endless online and offline options to engage with companies, so we knew that we had to transform our customer experience to fit that reality,” he said. “These data science capabilities... amplify our business-wide Superstar DJ program that’s delighting our customers with real-time, hyper-personalised experiences from our call centres to our bank branches.”

TV attention

Another focus for Adobe this year is better metrics and measurement for TV network customers across all screens and platforms. To help, Adobe has partnered with comScore for multi-screen TV and ad measurement across both content and ads.

The deal sees comScore’s audience information integrated with Adobe Marketing Cloud to enable optimisation of audience segments for targeted marketing campaigns, including email, video, display and search advertising. Adobe customers will also be able to forecast how well marketing content performs against specific audience segments.

Adobe already has a partnership with Nielsen for its ‘Digital Content Ratings Powered by Adobe’.

“This is intended to help content owners as well as advertisers better understand actual, real-world viewing behaviour among consumers,” Adobe’s director of product marketing, Campbell Foster, said. “We’re making Adobe certified metrics for standardised, accurate measurement of both content and advertising.”

Adobe Primetime hasn’t missed out on data science enhancements, either. The new personalised TV recommendations are based on algorithms in Adobe Primetime and Adobe Target that learn from contextual insights on video consumption across US households. The offering is launching first in the US then will be available in Asia-Pacific in Q3.

Finally, a new Over-the-Top (OTT) offering aims to make it easy for broadcasters and pay-TV providers to bring experiences directly to consumers via Apple TV, Microsoft Xbox, Roku and other connected devices.

Adobe’s Marketing Cloud chalked up US$1.76bn in revenue in FY2015. Globally, the platform processed 41 trillion transactions, 45 per cent of analytics transactions for mobile, 1.5 trillion mobile app transactions, and managed 100 billion emails.

The Marketing Cloud is made up of eight products: Adobe Experience Manager, Adobe Target, Adobe Analytics, Adobe Media Optimizer, Adobe Primetime, Audience Manager, Campaign and Social.

Nadia Cameron travelled to the Adobe Digital Marketing Summit as a guest of Adobe.

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