The digital Adobe Summit 2021 combined star guests such as Serena Williams and Pfizer boss Albert Bourla with various updates on products and services. The new Adobe Journey Optimizer was also presented.

Every year the marketing industry looks forward to the Adobe Summit to find out about the latest developments in data-driven digital marketing. In 2021, the Summit was digital for the second time, and national borders and distances were therefore irrelevant for the participants. A summit for everyone – all at the same time up to date with the latest developments, in the information workshops and “sneaks” into future developments. The opening videos were time zone-specific, with representatives from the respective regions moderating and then playing videos from internationally important actors or from local heroes.

And that was noticed by numerous participants: the US opening alone saw more than 27,000 participants, the next morning 11,000 were there live for the European version, about twice as many as are usually found in the crowded hall in London with the main stage. A remarkable number and yet no adequate substitute for the sense of community in the crowd and the many chance encounters that usually make up a summit visit.

Celebrities with daily relevance

The guests not only reflected the change in the meaning of digital business models and data associated with the pandemic, they also represented current social issues: In addition to General Motors and FedEx, with whom Adobe announced the collaboration on an e-commerce platform, as well as the European one Presentation Henkel with a deep insight into its own digitization strategies, Albert Bourla from Pfizer was present at all openings.

Pfizer’s CEO spoke to Shantanu Narayen, Adobe’s CEO, about motivational strategies in his company and, of course, his view of the pandemic.

Serena Williams, best known for sure for her successes in tennis, shared insights into her work ethic, business and investment strategies that are shaped by the possibilities of ethical behavior through investing. In doing so, she set an example against current inequalities and a thoughtful note, especially in connection with the reporting on Black Lives Matter.

At the center of the innovations: customers

With its innovations, Adobe is placing customers – B2C and, as Adobe emphasized, now also increasingly for B2B – at the center of its own offering. Numerous announcements revolve around them, their journey and experience. Some of them are listed below:

Adobe Experience Cloud, Adobe Experience Platform, and Adobe Experience Manager

The Adobe Experience Platform (AEP) presented by Adobe in 2018 certainly took up the largest room in the Summit. This Realtime Customer Data Platform is Adobe’s silver bullet for all current trends and problems in digital marketing. All Adobe applications can be connected to the AEP; all customer data from all contact channels flow into it, online and offline. It helps to optimize the cross-channel customer experience and simplifies internal processes.

This makes it Adobe’s answer to the elimination of third-party cookies and offers automated data access to all data and segments in real time, the prerequisite for personalization, AI, machine learning and predictive marketing.
Customer journey analytics

As a consequence, the Customer Journey Analytics tool no longer only includes digital channels, but all devices as well as offline data.​

Customer journey analytics

As a consequence, the Customer Journey Analytics tool no longer only includes digital channels, but all devices as well as offline data.​

Adobe Experience Manager and Headless CMS

Headless CMS combines the idea of personalization with automation and AI. Here, individualized content can be integrated into pages without messing up the brand experience.
Server side tagging

In times of the de facto elimination of third party cookies, server side tagging is necessary, which Adobe offers with the AEP Collection Enterprise.


From summer: Adobe Journey Optimizer

The Adobe Journey Optimizer was announced for this summer. It is based on AEP, is supported by Adobe Sensei – Adobe’s AI application – and ensures that the customer experience is optimized across all channels and devices. He actively notifies the company about optimization possibilities in the CX.

Adobe’s new Journey Optimizer (click on the picture to get a larger view), © Adobe

Ahead of the competition

With the Adobe Experience Platform, Adobe says it is primarily competing with Google. And here you have made a good head start. Because while the Google Marketing Platform primarily focuses on Google’s core business, the optimization of digital channels such as search, video and ads, Adobe offers a far more comprehensive customer experience optimization beyond pure marketing.

The data from Google Analytics 360 and other analysis tools can also be easily integrated via ready-made interfaces. In contrast to Google, which does not yet allow the integration of external data from third parties, Adobe is open to all possible data sources and not a “walled garden”. Even more: unlike Google, Adobe also offers a real possibility of integrating online and offline data in one platform. This means that Adobe is currently the only company whose promise of a 360 ° view of the customer is really kept in the spirit of omnichannel.
Adobe’s Sneak Preview

The “sneaks” are a highly anticipated part of the Adobe Summit. This gives an insight into projects that are currently still in the development stage and offers participants the opportunity to use a hashtag to campaign for their favorites. What was striking this year was how many topics were planned based on Adobe’s machine learning application Sensei.

From the point of view of analysts, the “Dimension Builder” presented here is certainly of interest, as it can subsequently correct naming errors in analyzes and also detects them itself using an automatic scan. Because deviations in the designation of data is one of the greatest challenges when it comes to a reliable data basis for analyzes and forecasts. Other ideas such as the “Segment Tuner”, which suggests suitable segmentation elements and thus enables more valuable analyzes, and “Catchy Content”, which aligns image selection or color design to user interests, seem sensible and obvious in the Adobe cosmos.

Trust for the future

In times of the elimination of third-party cookies with a simultaneous focus on AI and machine learning, reliable data is becoming more valuable. And the most reliable data is obtained when customers identify themselves and give their consent to the use of the data. So it is certainly no coincidence that the keyword TRUST ran like a red thread through many of the articles. Rachel Botsman, Trust Expert and Lecturer at Oxford University, took this literally in her contribution, who placed her visualization in hand-painted notes on a plywood wall in the middle of the digital conference and made Trust a central aspect of customer loyalty.

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