Adobe aims to consumerize the geeky, clunky world of digital marketing software by painting its revamped suite of offerings with a highly visual, click-and-drag interface that borrows heavily from Pinterest.
For the past 10 years, Adobe has been sucking up companies that could add features. Adobe maintained the branding of some acquisitions, while others were folded into existing products. Last year, it introduced its Creative Cloud concept, a subscription service that synched and stored files online. Now, it's rolled up its 27 products into a simplified and consistently branded product line: Adobe Marketing Cloud.
Adobe Marketing Cloud includes Adobe Analytics, Adobe Target, Adobe Social, Adobe Experience Manager, and Adobe Media Optimizer.
Adobe also demonstrated a new user interface that ties together the five products that comprise its Cloud Marketing Suite. Remarkably, it's chosen to take its design cues from Pinterest.
The message to marketers is, "Forget boring reports and spreadsheets. Have fun." To introduce the new design and capability at its Summit Digital Marketing Conference today, the company screened a video in which young marketers throw paper reports and focus group DVDs into the trash. The tagline: "Rock Your Marketing."
With the new interface, which Adobe hopes to roll out this summer, every product in the Marketing Cloud will have a "share" button that automatically turns the content or data into a card. The cards can be pinned onto boards, and people can invite others to follow a board.
Team members can draw on the cards or annotate them. If they do, the card is automatically updated and shared to everyone who's subscribed to the feed.
Marketers know they need big data, but they hate spreadsheets. The new UI is a way to make data more palatable, according to Justin Merickel, senior director of new product innovation, advertising solutions at Adobe. "If you're a frontend marketing manager or a CMO, you don't want to go into that system to get a report," he says. "You can see this being a much easier interface for a CMO; I've got my feed and my core boards. I don't have to go into the analytics UI, which I probably never went into ever before. "
Adobe also introduced a Digital Asset Management feature within Adobe Experience Manager, part of the Marketing Cloud. It integrates with Adobe Creative Cloud applications to speed production of digital assets and make it easier to reuse them.
Eventually, Adobe hopes to extend that pinning and sharing feature to creative assets, so that an agency, for example, could pin a new execution, and clients could immediately view it and respond. Merickel says that this Digital Asset Management system could act as the connective tissue between the Creative Cloud and the Marketing Cloud. "Enterprises can't rely on something like Dropbox to share these; they need more rights management."
Standardizing the UI across all five products should make it easier for new customers to get up and running, according to Brad Rencher, SVP and GM of Adobe's digital marketing business. How difficult it will be for existing customers to make the switchover is uncertain.
Shane Closser, chief technologist in the CEM practice of Virtusa, thinks Adobe's new offering can take the place of disparate marketing and analytics products that can be difficult to set up and integrate. Virtusa helps its customers with strategy and technology for doing business online. "The cost of ownership will be less, because they don't have to worry about the plumbing. They still have to identify their marketing strategies. There's no silver bullet," he says.
In any case, contracting with Adobe and billing will be easier. While the five products will have individual pricing, at least there will only be five products, instead of the infamous 27. Rencher says customers will be able to add a product with a one-page contract.
The Marketing Cloud announcements are the result of a five-year strategy of moving its business online that began with Photoshop.com.
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Susan Kuchinskas has covered interactive advertising since its invention. The former staff writer for Adweek, Business 2.0, and M-Business covers technology, business and culture from Berkeley, CA.