Steve Lucas on stage at 2019 Adobe Summit in background. Attendees in the foreground.
Former Marketo CEO Steve Lucas at Adobe Summit. PHOTO: Dom Nicastro

LAS VEGAS — Adobe spent $6.43 billion in software acquisitions last year to boost its digital experience suite. What now? 

Many of the 17,000 attendees at the San Jose, Calif.-based company's annual Adobe Summit conference came to learn about the tangible outcomes of these acquisitions: Adobe acquired commerce software provider Magento for $1.68 billion in May and then four months later spent another $4.75 billion on B2B marketing automation provider Marketo. These represent two of the largest marketing technology acquisitions. 

Adobe wasted no time on Day 1 of its conference touting the acquisitions. It put former Marketo and Magneto executives on stage in its Tuesday morning keynote. The gist? Adobe is a further along bringing Magento into the software family than Marketo. Naturally, this makes sense since Magento's Adobe birthday came four months earlier than Marketo's.

The top questions Summit attendees had on Day 1? 

  • How will Adobe Campaign (email marketing) and Marketo operate under the same roof? 
  • Will Marketo benefit from Adobe's Sensei (artificial intelligence engine)? 
  • Will Marketo users be able to leverage Adobe assets in Marketo's Design Studio without an upgrade? 

Slow Going in Marketo-Adobe Integration Worlds

The rumblings over Adobe-Marketo at the conference suggest that Adobe has some tangible plans to weave in Marketo throughout the Adobe Experience Cloud over time in areas that include: 

  • Integrating Marketo Design Studio into Adobe Experience Manager web content management.
  • Applying Adobe Sensei across the Marketo ecosystem.
  • Using Marketo's email editor with the power of AEM digital asset management.
For now, though, Marketo and Adobe users shouldn't expect major announcements around Adobe-Marketo integrations. An Adobe press spokesperson confirmed with CMSWire before the Adobe Summit there would be "nothing major" coming out of the product front from the Marketo team.

"It's a little early to expect that they've done any kind of massive, sweeping integrations," said Chris Ross, senior director and analyst at Gartner who covers marketing technology. "That's the reality. They get a little bit of leeway in the near term. It's a big acquisition and it's a lot of technology, it's a lot of people and it takes a while to figure out how you're going to feather all that together. Certainly at a strategic level the acquisition makes perfect sense."

Related Article: 10 Ways the Adobe-Marketo Acquisition Will Impact Marketo's Users

Adobe Deepens Microsoft Partnership

Adobe hasn't sat still when it comes to Marketo. Last November, they announced a Marketo extension for Adobe Launch, which allows users to add Marketo capabilities to websites via Adobe Launch

And on Tuesday here in Las Vegas, Adobe announced an extended partnership with existing tech partner Microsoft that includes a new integration with LinkedIn and Marketo software. The goal? Align data sources to populate account-based profiles in Adobe Experience Cloud, including Marketo Engage (lead management) and Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Sales (CRM). Adobe Experience Cloud includes four sub-clouds for marketing, analytics, advertising and commerce. 

Some call this move a salvo against CRM giant Salesforce. Company officials said the LinkedIn-Microsoft-Adobe-Marketo integration — for which they said represents "Account-based Experience (ABX)" — is designed to allow marketing and sales teams to perform the following:

  • Leverage data from Marketo Engage and Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Sales.
  • Integrate LinkedIn’s Matched Audiences with Marketo Engage for account-based targeting capabilities.
  • Access Adobe Audience Manager, the company’s Data Management Platform (DMP), on Azure to use data to create contact-based campaigns on LinkedIn and other channels.

Challenges Integrating Adobe, Marketo Experiences

Akshay Sharma, senior director of IT-Web Technologies at Western Digital, told CMSWire his shop has been an Adobe and Marketo customer even before the acquisition. His teams have custom built integrations between Adobe and Marketo. 

However, Sharma added, "What we are actually missing and what becomes most difficult is how do these two platforms talk the same languages in terms of experiences, and the customer profile? That’s the missing piece because for us to actually bring the customer data together, and then distribute it to various Adobe channels is a very hard thing to do individually." 

With the acquisition, Sharma hopes Adobe invests in getting a single customer identity that can speak the same language across Adobe Marketing Cloud and Marketo. "We're actually always thinking what is the right place to do this activity? Is it Marketo or Adobe?" Sharma asked. 

The IT leader said he hopes Adobe can provide more clarity on the merging of Adobe Campaign and Marketo. "We are planning our strategy for the next two to three years," Sharma said, "and I don't know whether we should actually stick to Marketo or have a hybrid approach. ... How is the Adobe trying to shape it up?"

Related Article: Adobe-Marketo Acquisition: What We Know So Far

Target Integration With Marketo Sounds Intriguing

Brittany Berliere, lead analyst for e-marketing at VWR International, is a Marketo customer who is eyeing an integration with Adobe Target, a personalization engine within the Adobe Experience Cloud. She's forecasting "a lot of setup work" but remains excited about the prospects of sending a personalized email based on behavior, only having to build that email once and firing it off whenever that same behavior happens. 

Still, questions remain. "What is Adobe going to focus on going forward — partnerships or building out what Marketo already has?" Berliere asked. "And from our perspective, that matters because it's going to dictate what's more useful." 

Magento Leads to Adobe Commerce Cloud Debut

Adobe did release noteworthy news regarding its other acquisition: Magento. It announced the availability of Adobe Commerce Cloud. Jason Woosley, vice president of Commerce Product & Platform for the Experience Business at Adobe, was on stage during the Tuesday morning keynote to tout the open-source platform that includes an "unprecedented number" of third-party integrations. Shantanu Narayen, CEO of Adobe, told the morning keynote crowd Magento "closes the last mile" of the "experience journey" with bridges across B2B and B2C experiences for enterprise and midmarket brands.

Woosley wrote in a blog post that the Commerce Cloud "deeply integrates" with Adobe Analytics Cloud, Adobe Marketing Cloud and Adobe Advertising Cloud. It includes commerce dashboards, integrated artificial intelligence, integrations with Adobe Experience Manager, integrations with Amazon marketplace and APIs, microservices and enterprise system integrations.

Related Article: Adobe Makes a Play for Mid-Market Customers With Magento Buy

What's Next? Sit Tight And Know Your Business

Ultimately, acquisitions that are $6 billion-plus are going to raise questions. We asked Jennifer Quinlan, CEO of Adobe integrator R2i, advice on what those technology stakeholders affected by Adobe's massive 2018 acquisitions should do now. It's not about changing anything for the sake of acquisitions, but, rather, making changes based on business needs. "I think it's about evolution," Quinlan said, "and what your company is trying to do."