2015-10-March-Brad Rencher.jpg

SALT LAKE CITY -- It's a close call which comment got the most reaction from the crowd of about 6,000 during the morning keynote at Day 1 of the Adobe Digital Marketing Summit Conference here at the Salt Palace Convention Center.

Brad Rencher, senior vice president and general manager of digital marketing for Adobe

or ...

Chris Norton, vice president, customer relationship management and channel intelligence, Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide.

Rencher asked a Coca-Cola representative if you kiss a Coke machine that says "hug me," do you get two Cokes?

Norton followed a presentation from an Adobe marketing tech rep who demoed the marketing cloud's targeting capabilities using Starwood Hotels.

"It was a little harder for us doing it on our own than it was up there," Norton said.

What's Working?

Rencher and Norton each got some good laughs -- Norton's line maybe won a few more.

The fact is, this is a hard business to master -- data-driven marketing. Each of the 1,876 marketing technology vendors uses "easy to use" and "intuitive" as their selling points.

Adobe's certainly pushing that message this week here in Utah. "Mere minutes," "So easy," were the phrases echoed with Adobe's mobile services and app work this morning.

And guess what? Something's working at the 13,500-employee, San Jose, Calif.-based tech company. They've got 1.2 billion reasons -- each dollar they make on the Adobe Marketing Cloud. And this is only a five-year old technology, as CEO Shantanu Narayen pointed out this morning.

The Marketing Cloud represents about 20 percent of company revenue, well behind the company's staple Creative Cloud product (more than 60 percent).

But Adobe's fully invested in being the best marketing tech cloud player out there. Narayen told the audience that the product is the marketing.

"There are new questions to ask -- are we thinking broadly of what the product is and how can I bring together the power of digital marketing to dramatically improve marketing experience?" he said during his keynote.

Adobe's Journey

As Norton pointed out, it's not an easy road. One Adobe Site Catalyst implementer told us this morning Adobe's product is the most "powerful" tool, but is also quite complex.

Then again, Adobe's demo with Under Armour sports gear company using Adobe Experience Manager Screens that integrate with the marketing cloud looked pretty darn easy.

So how did Adobe make the jump into one of the top players in terms of revenue and in the eyes of the big analyst firms?

Melissa Webster, program vice president of content and digital media technologies at the IDC, said Adobe bought its way into digital marketing with the acquisitions of Omniture (Analytics, Target), Day Software (AEM), and others (Campaign from the Neolane acquisition, for example).

"So it’s a combination of a smart acquisition strategy, executed decisively and great marketing, positioning its assets as an integrated suite," said Webster. "Integrations are improving, that’s certainly a cornerstone of the product announcements this year. Several solutions have been redesigned to accomplish this."

Webster also credited Adobe for its credibility in marketing from Creative Suite/Creative Cloud.

"And it is working very hard to integrate these two clouds to secure a competitive advantage that it is uniquely positioned to pursue," she said. "Adobe is also a great marketing company." 

She predicted more marketing technology acquisitions because, as she put it, "everyone has to acquire their way into offering marketing clouds. And acquisitions will continue, because this is a space with a ton of ongoing innovation. We’ll see lots more."

Farooq Zama, president of Princeton, NJ-based Autowoven, which implements Adobe Experience Manager, said Adobe's marketing tech strength is the "integration of all products to the marketing cloud. It will take a while for other vendors to catch up."