I’ve taken a couple of days to attend the Adobe EMEA Summit to catch up on what’s happening with Marketo, as well as learn more about the other Adobe marketing products. Here’s the first blog, which looks at what was covered in the opening keynote. As it’s the opening keynote, I’m going to use legacy brands (e.g. Marketo) and will be focussing primarily on the impact to Adobe’s marketing automation customers, which represents the majority of our clients.

It’s interesting to compare the Adobe event to HubSpot’s Inbound conference. Adobe and HubSpot are pretty different: HubSpot started as a Martech company, while Adobe has effectively grown into marketing, and they have relied on acquisitions to achieve this, particularly buying Marketo and Magento.

The first thing that strikes you is the focus on B2C, rather than B2B. All the big names from the opening keynote are from big consumer brands, including some big names such as the CEO of Illy and the CIO of Unilever, and it was almost 90 minutes before B2B was mentioned. Similarly, the examples cited to illustrate the capabilities were highly skewed to consumers rather than B2B. They are also very focused on size: citing their use by the biggest companies in several consumer categories such as travel.

DDOM: Data-Driven Operating Model

One big mention for Adobe is the use of “DDOM”, an abbreviation for their data-driven operating model approach. Clearly with the portfolio of products they have in their marketing cloud, they are able to deliver great data throughout the customer journey. Not surprisingly we also heard a lot about a “renew” stage of the customer journey, something that is a key part of Adobe’s business model. We saw the discover – try – buy – use – renew customer journey several times in the presentation.

Of course there were the requisite number of mentions of the importance of privacy, although it’s clear that Adobe, and the attendees, were much more excited about the amount of data that can be collected rather than the amount that isn’t collected. AI, of course, also got a few mentions (Adobe has branded theirs AI Sensei). Although the examples were a little superficial, it’s clear that Sensei has an uncanny ability to select relevant customisations on websites, apps and emails to personalise experiences for each customer.

The Platform, Not the Tools

One thing that became pretty clear was that it’s all about the Adobe Experience Platform, rather than individual point products like Magento and Marketo (it actually took almost 90 minutes before the first mention of the Marketo brand). This is because Adobe is very focussed on the data, rather than the tools, and we were told several times that Adobe was the solution to breaking down marketing data silos. The Open Data Initiative (ODI) also featured prominently in the keynote, showing Adobe is keen to allow data to be shared with other enterprise applications. A great point was made in a discussion about legacy applications: companies need to take a data-centric, rather than an application-centric point of view. It’s much harder to escape legacy applications than to say this, but clearly now is the time where companies need to invest in better systems to take best use of the most valuable part of their IT infrastructure: data.

Cool Features

There were a few cools features that were highlighted. The IT geeks will be excited by the ODI support and integrations, but marketers want shinier things. Some of the new features that will grab attention include:

  • The ability to send messages within an app to a customer, driven by a workflow experience cloud
  • The measurement of “view throughs” – identifying customers who see an advert, but don’t click on it
  • The ability to change the content of a mobile app without needing developer support nor changing the app in the App Store, using Adobe Target
  • The AI-driven customisations and recommendations from Adobe’s AI system, Sensei, was impressive and appeared to deliver real benefits rather than simply putting a trendy “AI” badge on the products

Ecommerce: Adobe Commerce Cloud (Magento)

With Adobe focussing on data throughout the customer journey, it’s pretty clear that e-commerce is important for them, and so the acquisition of Magento a year ago was a no-brainer. To put it another (rather more professional) way, you have to be able to combine transactional and engagement data to measure the impact of marketing on customer acquisition, sales and margin.

I was interested in the comment that “the buy button is appearing far earlier in the customer journey” – this is very true for a large number of B2B tech companies. Whether it’s SaaS vendors who have a much lower cost of entry than old-school shrink-wrapped software or semiconductor vendors whose development boards as so low-cost that they are almost an impulse buy for many engineers, in many ways it’s easier to get that first purchase. Reducing friction to first purchase is certainly something that B2B tech companies should consider, although the message that “every experience should be shopable” is a B2C concept that simply doesn’t work for most B2B tech companies.

Adobe Marketing Cloud (Marketo)

Marketo was positioned as the leading B2B marketing product, so the Marketo presentation was the first B2B focussed section (after almost 2 hours of consumer-focussed examples). Steve Lucas, the previous CEO of Marketo, told us of his love of B2B saying that he joined Marketo because it was B2B. Finally!

A key message of the presentation was that B2B and B2C are converging. The first example was booking.com, which uses Marketo for its B2B travel booking and other tools for consumer, but the difference between the two sides of the business are blurring.

One fun fact is that there is a partner for every 10 Marketo customers (5000 customers, 550 partners). Not sure what that means, but I thought the ratio was surprisingly heavy on partners.

Account based experience is a new approach, It’s clear that customising the digital experience for each customer and prospect account could be a huge help to companies using ABM: it’s crazy that often the one place where ABM doesn’t have an impact on experience is your own website. There is also the ability to push ads into LinkedIn: something that isn’t possible in other platforms due to the lack of an open API on the LI platform.

Summary of Adobe Opening Keynote

Overall, I think we learnt two things from the opening keynote speakers: firstly Adobe is very focussed on building a complete suite of marketing tools, rather than promoting point solutions such as Marketo. Secondly Adobe believes that their biggest opportunities are in B2C, not B2B. Neither of these things will be much of a surprise to anyone who viewed the agenda, where the sessions we have coming up in the next couple of days are focussed on the complete platform, not specific products, and there is only a token B2B presentation for each of the breakout sessions.

One thing that won’t come as any surprise to anyone who has looked at marketing technology tools in the last few years: marketing is now about data first: this might not be a lot of fun to people from a creative or PR background, but it’s clear that the largest and most successful companies have already made the transition.

So what does this mean to B2B technology marketers? Well if you are one of the larger tech companies using Marketo, you’ll probably want to consider buying more Adobe marketing products: Adobe is building an awesome platform that will be hard for very large enterprises to ignore and for smaller tech companies, many of whom use Marketo, nothing is going to change soon.