Adobe Summit 2017: Are You ‘Experienced?’

Thoughts & Insights from Adobe Summit 2017

Another Adobe Summit wrapped up last week—four jam-packed days of marketing technology, hands-on sessions, celebrities and a healthy dose of the future, all against the somewhat surreal back drop of Las Vegas. While phrases like ‘digital transformation’ and ‘experience business’ permeated the event like those neighborhood acquaintances that you just can’t seem to avoid, what’s clear is we as marketers—and consumers—are standing on the precipice of another major shift in business. Below are three takeaways from Adobe Summit 2017:

1. The way we consume is changing.
Think about it: We used to simply buy clothing. Now we can rent an expensive outfit for an evening and return it the following day, or subscribe to a service that conveniently ships us a package each month with recommended items based on our preferences, and just as easily return what we don’t want at no extra cost to us. We used to just eat food. Now we can have organic, farm-to-table, fresh food shipped right to our door 7 days a week, with pre-portioned sizes and step-by-step cooking directions (for the kitchen-impaired), or order a pizza through an emoji on our smartphones or directly from FB messenger. There’s been a shift in how we consume. And it’s happened subtly as much as it’s planted one squarely on our jaw. Consumption is now more about how customers interact with a brand, throughout the entire journey and at every touchpoint. Or, in a word: experience. And this shift is not slowing down. According to a recent Adobe survey, when marketers were asked four years ago how they can compete, 33% said “experience.” Today that number is 90%. So the next time you’re out at a restaurant, be sure to ask the waiter, “More experience, please.”

2. Artificial intelligence will power personalization at scale.
Adobe debuted its newest product suite this year, the Adobe Experience Cloud (more on that here), an augmentation of its Marketing Cloud with some seriously enhanced capabilities. Brad Rencher, EVP and general manager of digital marketing at Adobe, dubbed it the “language of the experience business.” Touting an open ecosystem and machine-learning capabilities, the Adobe Experience Cloud will enable marketers and organizations to leverage a data model that delivers contextually relevant content based on I/O events and PoI data across devices and in real time. Wait, what does that mean? It means that the open flow of behavioral, transactional content and geo-locational data through the Adobe Experience Cloud will enable real-time, channel-agnostic experiences that are tailored truly to that specific customer. Layered with artificial intelligence, those experiences become smarter, more contextually relevant and personalized, regardless of device. Think of a hotel mobile app, for example, that is able to serve up relevant offers, promotions or communications based on where that member is on the property (perhaps it’s the pool, the bar, the lobby), or past behaviors or preferences. Each time the member opens the app, the content and offer changes based on any data point available in the AEC. Or, for an offline example, an OOH bus shelter ad that scans a person as they approach and serves up a version (content and copy) based on their appearance, age, clothes and any other machine-learned data points to give that person the most relevant ad version possible. And you thought you were just waiting for the bus.

3. Emotion technology will change the way marketers market.
For those of us in marketing—from traditional and digital to martech and adtech—if someone were to say that what we do is “binary,” we’d find that pretty insulting, wouldn’t we? Hell yeah, we would. But, from a metrics standpoint, it kind of is. Did someone walk into the store? Did they open an email? Click? Like? Dislike? Convert? These are all yeses or nos, ones or zeros. What if we could go beyond the binary elements and measure things like fan emotion during Wimbledon, leverage ambient and direct measuring during a TED talk, or feed real-time crowd biometrics at a dance party to a leaderboard linked to anonymous user accounts that inform the flow and events of the evening while you’re getting your dance on? Emerging now are ways to find insights in data points like cheering, heart rate, atmospheric noise, dance circles, even fight or flight reactions to inform (what was the most exhilarating match?), optimize (when is the peak moment to serve the crowd drinks?) and predict outcomes (which version of this preview will sell more movie tickets?). One could argue that emotion is really not a powerfully new concept in marketing. Look no further than the episode of Mad Men where Don Draper pitched (unsuccessfully, btw, until now) Heinz on ads that didn’t feature the product in any form—no bottle, no thick red stuff—just lonely fries and naked hamburgers. Come on. I can still see those 50-year-old fries. What is new, however, is the layering of technology and artificial intelligence onto real-time experiences in biometrically measurable ways. A little scary? Perhaps. And think of the potential risks and dangers emotion technology invites into our already complicated worlds. Will we soon be saying things like, “My Fitbit got hacked.”? Also, get used to more kitten videos with product placement. Just sayin’. One thing’s for sure: as emotion and experience are put on steroids through technology and artificial intelligence, people—and understanding them—still reign supreme.