Adobe Summit 2016: A Fantastic Experience

Adobe SummitAs an industry analyst I have been going to large vendor events for decades.  I am happy to report that the Adobe Summit last week in Las Vegas was one of the best, if not the best events of this type that I have ever attended.

The summit came just after Adobe’s impressive financial results, which certainly added to the positive buzz at the event.  They did a handful of things very well.

  1. They introduced a slew of new products, but the demos and product intros did not come across as a Sales pitch, but instead as mechanisms to enrich the experience and assist marketers.  This was in part to do with the presenters themselves as well as their ability to demo live software when it was needed.
  2. It is hard to get clients to come forward and speak about their challenges and wins, but even harder to find a clients that are also great speakers. Here they did a fantastic job of recruiting client speakers that had great stories but were also expert story tellers. Some notable examples are Richard Dickson of Mattel, Giles Richardson of RBS and Deborah Wahl of McDonalds to name a few. Watch their sessions to see if you agree.
  3. Often these Marketing Cloud providers focus too far into the future.  While Adobe did have the obligatory Tesla drive on stage to show digital app integration to improve drive through ordering, much of the focus was on practical examples for the here and now. Instead of boring interviews with services partners on how these innovations manifested, they demo’d them in mock store fronts and simply gave a tip of the hat to the partners. As they continued to push the importance of the client experience, they actually delivered a very fine experience.
  4. Just enough celebrity to inspire and provide laughs.  Soccer star Abby Wambach, spoke of the need for equality in all things; George Clooney brilliantly and hilariously discussed the pros and cons of Social Media and his passion projects; Donny Osmond didn’t seem to age but was on hand to inspire through singing his song and lastly Thomas Middleditch provided his edgy comedy flare to Adobe’s Sneaks session where they demo future products. Sneaks was certainly _the_ crowd favorite.
  5. Content pacing and the venue.  I have been in the same venue for other vendors (a similar vendor just a year ago); but Adobe seemed to use the space better than others. They leveraged the vendor expo space well to drive traffic to the all important sponsors. Adobe utilized clever attractions such as an oxygen bar, a soccer field, chess board, professional social media head-shots and several other ideas to keep the crowd pacing through the vendor expo.  And there was plenty of comfortable seating for the foot worn pacing that happens at these casino venues (wear comfortable shoes).  Lastly, the content – the vast number of breakouts offered something for everyone.  My session on the email marketing maturity model was well attended with just over 200 participants, which was great showing for the last session of day 1 just before the cocktail party.

Some Facts And Takeaways

  • There were 10,000 people at the event, more streamed the event online.
  • 83% of their Marketing Cloud clients utilize 3 or more solutions in their cloud.
  • 49% of their analytical transactions are originating on mobile devices.
  • The theme was all about “The Experience Era” and positioned that “great experiences start with great content” and that “great experiences are powered by data.”
  • Fireworks CultureRoyal Bank of Scotland discussed the need for organization change to get omnichannel marketing done.  They transformed the organization and previously had said that previously they had a “firework culture.”  See the slide (left) that hilariously discusses that culture, which is what _not_ to do.  They succeed in gaining control, assigning specific journeys to individuals and create specific individual dashboards, shared the learnings across the organization, and implement more testing to drive optimization.   Watch his (Giles Richardson) talk “Becoming an Experience Business”, it is a great recipe on how to get an organization on the same page. And it was rather entertaining.
  • Adobe Campaign introduced subject line optimization, which utilizes, past behavior, natural language processing (machine learning) to suggest the most effective subject lines. Learn more about it here.
  • The big news was around their new device co-op to better identify devices as people.  To date there are five “major brands” that have participated in the beta and at Summit, Adobe opened it up to all participants.  There will be a single consumer opt-out to opt-out of the entire co-op and not individual brands.  Check out the press release.
  • There were many Analytics improvements noted, from better understanding App downloads, to improving content analytics as well as attribution.  There is much to digest and this press release summarizes it well.
  • TV, partnerships and the new frontier of TV Networks and Over The Top (OTT).  Adobe is well entrenched in TV and film, and announced a new comScore measurement partnership but new TV targeting capabilities in the Marketing Cloud. Read more.

CirqueAll and all, it was a great event where I got to catch-up with clients, partners, strike new relationships and catch-up with old industry friends. This not to mention a Adobe Campaign/Merkle small party where we got to see Cirque Du Soleil performances up and close (photo left).

It is conference season, next I am off to the Email Evolution Conference in New Orleans and hope to see you there, or at some show this year.   Until then, all the best,  David … be sure to follow me on Twitter for the latest real-time updates.

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