Adobe has long been a fixture in marketing departments, thanks to its popular Photoshop photo-editing software and its Portable Document format (PDF), which many enterprises use for whitepapers, press releases and the like. But while it's long been a favorite of graphic designers and other creative types, its stock has been rising rapidly among chief marketing officers (CMOs) and other executives.
It's gaining traction in the C-suite following its reinvention of Omniture, an online marketing and Web analytics company it purchased in 2009 and operated as a business unit within Adobe until 2011. Since then, Adobe has continued to acquire companies with capabilities valued by digital marketers, including Web content management provider Day Software and campaign management provider Neolane.
How much traction? Today as the company rolled out a series of new features for its Adobe Marketing Cloud, it also announced that its digital marketing business revenue hit a milestone of $1 billion in 2013, a 26 percent increase over 2012. Sixty-four percent of the Fortune 50 use Adobe's Marketing Cloud products.
Chris Wareham, senior director of Product Management, Adobe Analytics, attributed the success of Adobe's Marketing Cloud to three factors: the company's existing "tremendous footprint with CMOs," the fact that each of six solutions that comprise the Marketing Cloud is "industry leading in its own right" and Adobe's emphasis on integration, which he said is "way ahead of our competitors." The six solutions: Media Optimizer, Adobe Social, Experience Manager, Adobe Target, Adobe Campaign and Adobe Analytics.
Real Time Predictive Analytics
The company launched new features for three of the six solutions and also brought its Marketing Cloud Exchange, a marketplace of pre-built integrations and applications between third-party technologies and Adobe solutions, out of beta and into general release. The exchange includes some 150 apps, most of them featuring out-of-the-box integration. The exchange is "a way for partners and customers to innovate on top of our platform," Wareham said
Though Adobe's Marketing Cloud Exchange is "not dissimilar" to Salesforce.com's AppExchange, Wareham said, "integrations tend to be more robust." Microsoft CRM and Google's DDM advertising platform are among the services already offered as part of the exchange.
Adobe Analytics boasts several new features, including one called Live Stream that Wareham said "can stream activity as we are measuring it." Though real-time monitoring has been a "hallmark" of Adobe Analytics for quite some time, Live Stream "extends the ability to drive immediate customer interaction based on what you are seeing," he said.
So, for example, if a marketer detects a customer has been in an online shopping cart for an extended period of time, he can offer a chat session or a banner with a special promotion geared to encourage purchase. "Livestream is expanding, tracking and changing every second. It's really compelling," Wareham said.
Real time capabilities are in demand, judging by a CMO Council study published in late 2013 that found marketing executives gave their organizations low marks on "real time delivery of sales intelligence and breaking news" as well as "customer data accuracy, depth and reliability."
Adobe is also introducing a predictive marketing feature called Decision Trees that puts predictive analytics capabilities in the hands of "ordinary" business users.
"Predictive marketing is not a new phenomenon. The need for predictive analytics, for statistical algorithms, for machine learning is there, but the current state of industry has been to go to someone with a Ph.D. or to a quant to get those answers. Then those answers aren't accessible throughout the rest of the enterprise," Wareham said. "We are supplying digital analysts with the same set of tools."
Adobe is among a growing group of vendors trying to make predictive analytics more accessible to mainstream business users.
Analytics is an area of strong growth for Adobe, Wareham said, noting that the company saw a 63 percent jump in its customers spending more than $1 million a year on analytics products in 2013. Use of predictive analytics is growing especially rapidly.
"Automating analyses so individuals have the same ability to produce insights that you used to have to have a half a million dollar resource generate for you is extremely powerful," he said. "As an analytics company, we can closely monitor the experiences of our customers logging into our product. We are seeing usage of these new capabilities completely supersede capabilities that we've built up over years and that are well penetrated within our customer set."
Adobe also introduced Segment Builder, which allows users to discover, create and manage high-value audience segments and automatically share them via Adobe Target.
Campaigns and Communities
New capabilities for Adobe Media Optimizer include unified campaign analysis, which allows users to look at campaigns across channels rather than on a channel-by-channel basis so they can more easily determine which campaigns are best achieving their objectives, and a predictive algorithm that helps customers more accurately predict campaign performance.
"Now you have access to lot of different information to drive your models -- like geography, audience and time of day -- instead of just performance keyword and arrival on digital property, which had been state of the art in the past," Wareham said, noting that Adobe customers using these features are seeing up to a 25 percent lift in their search campaigns. "We are seeing a return between seven percent and 25 percent. The average is about 15 percent, which is huge."
Adobe Experience Manager now offers cloud-based learning communities, which allow marketers to examine in real time how members interact with communities and to offer personalized content to boost interaction.
While deep integration between the solutions in the Marketing Cloud will continue to be a key part of Adobe's strategy, because it facilitates collaboration among users, Wareham said the company also continues to invest in each of the solutions individually. "We want to win because our solutions are best-of-breed, not just because we are integrated," he said.
Adobe's rivals in the marketing space include Oracle, Salesforce and IBM, which earlier this week unveiled a suite of marketing, sales and service solutions called ExperienceOne.
Ann All is the editor of Enterprise Apps Today and eSecurity Planet. She has covered business and technology for more than a decade, writing about everything from business intelligence to virtualization.