The Adobe View of Data + Creativity

Adobe has quickly become a major player in the marketing world, building on its traditional business of selling software to creatives. Since adding Web analytics provider Omniture and search platform Effective Frontier, Adobe is now positioned to bridge the gap between data and creativity.

John Battelle, CEO of Federated Media, interviewed Adobe CMO Ann Lewnes at the CM Summit in New York. The main takeaway is that data is useless unless marketers can make sense of it. That’s Adobe’s reasoning behind its Adobe Marketing Cloud product.

John Battelle, CEO, Federated Media

JB: Adobe is now a CMO-focused company, but your roots are in packaged software for people that create things. How do you bridge that?
AL: We once focused on just doing packaged software and made relationships with the creative services [people] at agencies and publishers. But we saw a part that was missing. Making content is just one piece of the pie. How are you going to manage and measure that? There was that disconnect. Today, the agency makes the content, the marketers post the ad and we help manage it, measure and optimize.

Ann Lewnes, CMO, Adobe

JB: Is the market ready for that?
AL: If you talk to creative people, they’re no longer satisfied just making stuff anymore. That’s because without being able to see if their stuff is working, they are obsolete. This is a pivotal time for agencies. The traditional stuff we once looked to our agencies for is now being handled in-house. The role of the agency today is getting the big idea from the client, and then helping accelerate the shift to digital. The low level stuff like making a display ad, I am in-sourcing. You need quick turnaround nowadays, so if your creative needs a new image or photo, there’s no time to get an agency to do that. The tactical stuff, I can do myself. That should be a wake-up call for the agencies. In order for agencies to add value, they need to help the brands express their value propositions.

JB: Adobe’s currently running an ad campaign that plays off the idea that marketers hate data. Talk about that.
AL: Sitting here for a few hours, I counted 4,000 times that the word data was used. In the beginning, we could not measure anything and marketers don’t want anything to do with the data. Our job is to surface the insights in a consumable format. My job is to use the data for action. I used to get those bulky emails with a huge report attached to it, and I did not even read it because I did not know what I was looking at. That’s why everyone is terrified of big data. That’s why we’re so focused now on providing data in a consumable format. It’s like Pinterest for marketers. [The Adobe Marketing Cloud], which we ourselves use, will give me a view into number of people at the site, conversion rates, which creative is doing best. I am hooked up to the team and the agency. I want the high-level picture in a visual format, and if I want to go deeper, then I can. That’s the idea behind the Adobe Marketing Cloud.

JB: Is the Salesforce Marketing Cloud the same thing?
AL: Hell no. The key is that you can’t just have one piece. Social is important, but not the only component. You need to understand what is going on with your website, with your content management and behavioral targeting. You need analytics. It is the foundation of everything we do. We need to assess attribution and what people are doing on the site. Conversion doesn’t just happen on the website. That’s why there’s the need for integration of all the sources and places. Marketers need to aggregate [all the data] together and take an integrated approach to acting on all this data.

JB: What does the world look like in five years?
AL: There’ll be a better connection between the creative and data worlds. Today, everyone’s got silos [within their organizations]. It’s marketing and sales, and never shall the two meet. The data from both need to meet. There needs to be one group dedicated to take action on data to meet goals. Data is meaningless unless I can make an assessment, and that’s where we come in.

Image via Shutterstock

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