Adobe's Marketing Cloud Gets a Huge Boost

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- In response to the overwhelming desire among marketing executives nationwide to adapt to the digital landscape, software-as-a-service (SaaS) leader Adobe (ADBE) unveiled new major marketing cloud capabilities today.

The announcements were presented before an audience of close to 6,000 marketing professionals at the kickoff of Adobe's 12th annual Digital Marketing Summit in Salt Lake City on Tuesday.

A recent Adobe survey of more than 1,000 marketing professionals in the U.S. shows that a bulk of marketers in the country feel overwhelmed and underprepared for the digital age. For instance, 74% say that capturing and applying data to inform and drive marketing activities is the new reality, and 69% agree on the need to embrace or use data to provide the right products, services and content at the right time; an approach also known as "hyper-personalization."

Yet, only 39% of marketers actually used consumer data and behavior patterns to shape marketing strategies in the past 12 months simply because they didn't know how to go about doing it.

With the majority of survey takers indicating that they're expecting their roles to change in the next year to progress with the prevailing digital landscape, these marketing professionals are keenly determined to find the ways that they can reinvent themselves.

Enter Adobe.

On Tuesday, Adobe revealed the newest technology breakthroughs in its Adobe Marketing Cloud, including the ability to do advanced real-time audience profiling, predictive marketing mix planning, and technology that seamlessly manages content across the Web and mobile apps.

The announcements arrived in two buckets: the mobile, and the rest being core services, both of which Suresh Vittal Kotha, Adobe's vice president of marketing cloud strategy expounded on for TheStreet.

Adobe added Tuesday that it is entering a global reseller agreement with SAP (SAP) whereby SAP will resell Adobe Marketing Cloud with the SAP HANA platform and SAP's hybris Commerce Suite, targeting digital marketing and omni-channel commerce for enterprise customers.

Industry-first capabilities introduced as part of core services included the Master Marketing Profile, which gives companies a single view of their customers and prospects to deepen relationships and offer highly personalized experiences across all marketing channels. Through the offering, dynamic customer profiles can be updated in real-time with behavioral data from Marketing Cloud solutions and third party systems like CRM, ERP, transactional and payment platforms.

Shared Assets, also part of the new core services introduced on Tuesday, enables companies to sync, store, search, and share digital assets from a central repository across Adobe Marketing Cloud solutions. Marketers can take advantage of Adobe's industry-leading tools in Creative Cloud and collaborate directly with creative professionals to accelerate the production of content across all marketing channels, all from one user interface. Assets are automatically versioned, indexed and made available to Adobe Marketing Cloud solutions to help marketers save time and resources.

"The foundation for all of this is the Adobe Marketing Cloud," Kotha emphasized. "And what we invested significant IP and innovation in is getting all of these market-leading solutions, whether its Adobe Analytics or Experience Manager or Master Marketing Profile, is to be able to easily integrate with one another and share a common set of data and workflow -- and groove with one another. You want everything to be readily available and shared across solutions."

"So what we're doing is helping marketers get the most out of Adobe Marketing Cloud."

Adobe also previewed Marketing Mix Planning technology, new capabilities in Adobe Marketing Cloud that enable marketers to assess, optimize and execute their offline and online marketing mix including TV, public relations, print and events, as well as paid search, display advertising, social, email and more. Using highly sophisticated algorithms, Marketing Mix Planning technology provides both descriptive and predictive analytics including attribution, effectiveness, forecasting, and campaign scheduling across all marketing channels. This gives marketers the ability to tie together attribution, analytics, media planning and execution while offering a real-time activation of campaigns and insights.

Adobe furthermore introduced at the event a set of new mobile app development solutions and capabilities in Adobe Marketing Cloud that help companies create, manage and deliver highly personalized mobile app experiences to their customers and prospects in real time and without the need for app development skills.

"It's a well-known fact that Adobe is a big player in the mobile marketing space" Kotha added. "We do 2 trillion mobile analytic transactions annually, we have 170 million downloads of our content public framework called 'digital publishing,' and 100,000 PhoneGap developers today. And the reason why we think it's important to think about mobile marketing more holistically is because we believe mobile is so fundamental in the shift towards the new era of marketing -- that marketers need to be able to make and manage, and measure and monetize mobile channels and mobile apps and mobile content in a single place."

The company said the new capabilities built on Adobe's market leadership in mobile and that deliver against the entire spectrum of mobile marketing including developing dynamic mobile apps, managing and marketing content for apps across all major app stores, measuring mobile marketing campaigns, and engaging users of apps near Apple (AAPL) iBeacons.

Last but not least, the company announced the launch of Adobe Target Premium, which automates the targeting of relevant content, offers and cross-sell recommendations for marketers and enables organizations to easily launch automated campaigns with just a few clicks.

In addition to the five new product announcements, the company also announced a major new release of Adobe Experience Manager, the market leader in Web experience management, which offers innovations for simplification of website re-platforming and dynamic asset delivery.

Forrester analyst Cory Munchbach says that Adobe's Core Services announcement is a move in the right direction for the company to differentiate itself from competitors such as Google (GOOG), Salesforce (CRM), and comScore (SCOR) in the enormously complex task assisting marketers through integration, from both a technology and process perspective.

Munchbach explains that Core Services are able to address the general criticisms about the cloud world as a whole, which is mainly that often the products available in the market are just glorified versions of the heritage technology on which they were built that haven't succeeded at integrating to anywhere near the degree they have claimed to be able to do. "I like the components of this that they've highlighted," the analyst said.

Like for any other major announcement, Munchbach will pass judgment on Adobe's latest technology only after she sees the new offerings in action with clients, but she's optimistic. "Adobe has shown itself to be a best-in-class provider of many capabilities, from a DMP to a cross-channel campaign manager (the former Neolane). Their challenge is to prove the value of the entire suite of products working together and, from what I have seen, have done reasonably well backing their story."

Gene Phifer, a distinguished analyst and vice president at Gartner Research, also weighed in on the announcements, commenting that one of the more significant headlines coming out of the Adobe Summit is the improved integration across the Marketing Cloud with the new set of core services allowing marketers to more easily tie together the various services of the Marketing Cloud to provide better management of user information and tags, and to collaborate and share assets better.

Phifer also gave a nod to the enhancements to Adobe Experience Manager and PhoneGap Enterprise for the better facilitation of mobile marketing; the set of tools for measuring the effectiveness of mobile ad campaigns; and the introduction of iBeacon support, taking location-based marketing into the store.

"The features announced at the Adobe Summit are good enhancements to the already powerful Marketing Cloud," said Phifer.

-- Written by Andrea Tse in New York

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