Adobe Introduces Analytics for Retailers

Marketing Cloud

2017 has been a tough year for retail. Store closures and bankruptcies are happening at an unprecedented rate and, every retail brand seems to be grappling with the same conundrum – what’s the clearest path to success in an industry in which digital disruption has transformed the business model dynamics so drastically? The retail world we live in today is not the same world we lived in a decade ago, or even a few years ago. Consumer expectations for compelling engagement in the moments that matter have soared, which in turn has flipped the traditional model upside down. With increased competition from online behemoths and direct-to-consumer brands, the customer experience becomes critical to success in an environment addicted to discounts and fleeting loyalty. Today’s shoppers demand authentic, compelling experiences whenever, and wherever they’re shopping. For retailers seeking to meet these high expectations, analytics plays a massive role in helping them retailers understand who their various customer segments are, how they behave, and how to best make product and merchandising decisions.

Fruitful brands find that analytics can power every decision, from the strategic to the tactical. But, one of the most challenging elements to any analytics strategy is the first step – whether it’s the initial adoption of an analytics practice, or entering into a new stage of analytics maturity, such as going from diagnostic to predictive analytics. While most retailers have some familiarity with data and an aspiration to become data-driven, there can be an overwhelming sense of not knowing exactly where to begin. For many retailers, the problem is compounded by having individuals, and even teams, who need to make data-driven decisions, but may not have a deep — or any — analytics background. The irony is, that these teams typically touch the most customers – and need powerful analytics to surface actionable insights from multi-channel data as they develop relevant and compelling experiences.

Today, to address the challenges that come with launching an analytics strategy, today Adobe Analytics Cloud is unveiling powerful workspaces designed for retail brands. Building on Analysis Workspace — the easy-to-use data discovery and analysis tool within Adobe Analytics — retail brands can discover meaningful insights easier than ever before with pre-built templates. Aimed at helping retailers guide the full customer journey, and better understand purchasing patterns, these interactive product and merchandising templates are a one-stop shop for retailers. Powered by Adobe Sensei, Adobe’s artificial intelligence and machine learning framework, these new templates are built with Anomaly Detection and Contribution Analysis to get real-time access to conversion rates, merchandising, product performance, and product finding methods, among other insights.

Take an outdoor gear retailer, for example, who is running a nationwide Thanksgiving promotion that offers shoppers a deep discount on a marquee item, hoping to increase the basket with higher-margin add-ons. Upon entering Adobe Analytics, the retailer can immediately gain access to real-time information, and determine whether to make shifts that will ultimately drive sales and margin improvements, such as pricing changes, altering placements, promotions or recommendations on the site, and even deciding which target customer groups to invest more marketing dollars into.

By working with 10 of the top-10 retailers, including, True Value, and The Home Depot, Adobe Analytics Cloud has established a deep heritage within the industry, and understands the data that successful retail brands need to leverage.

In today’s digital world, being able to respond to trends instantly is central to beating out the competition. Analytics can help brands discover how customers are interacting with sites and campaigns instantaneously, informing them how to change course if something isn’t working. Adobe is excited to give retailers a leg-up with an even faster way for any type of user to access visualizations and dashboards, to help create experiences that drive growth.


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Four Powerful Ways to Use UGC to Influence Shoppers and Accelerate Conversion

Marketing Cloud

With its powerful ability to influence and convert online shoppers, user-generated content (UGC) has become a strategic cornerstone of the retail marketer’s toolkit.

Recent data confirms that an overwhelming 90 percent of online shoppers consider UGC to be the most influential factor in their purchase decision (TurnTo), and accoring to OfferPop, UGC results in 29% higher conversions than websites without it (OfferPop). The message is clear — it’s imperative to leverage UGC to drive deeper loyalty, generate new leads, and increase revenue to meet business goals. Now with UGC Commerce — the newest Experience Manager Livefyre capability — organizations can seamlessly add UGC to the shopping experience to satisfy customer expectations and bolster their bottom line.

With the new UGC Commerce capabilities, you can:

1) Seamlessly connect your product catalog with UGC by syncing your catalog in Experience Manager Commerce with Experience Manager Livefyre. This powerful integration enables you to automatically import product information into Livefyre — including SKUs, thumbnail images, and product names — and then easily associate your products with user-generated content. If you’re using another e-commerce solution, a simple manual upload of your product catalog file will also bring product information into Livefyre. By early 2018, Adobe will open the Livefyre API, enabling retailers to incorporate websites leveraging any commerce platform, beginning with Google Shopping.

2) Increase conversion on your product pages by surfacing user generated photos, videos, and comments from social channels like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube in a Livefyre Media Wall, Mosaic or Filmstrip (available Nov. 2017) visualization, providing highly sought-after social validation directly at the point of purchase.

Product page with Filmstrip visualization containing related UGC. Modal opens when customer clicks on UGC.

3) Increase traffic to your product pages by integrating  a Livefyre Mosaic, Media Wall or Filmstrip (available Nov. 2017) visualization on your website that contain user-generated images, videos and comments related to your products. Add direct links and  customizable call-to-action buttons that drive customers directly into the purchase path.

By late 2017, the UGC Commerce capability will also enable you to use our smart visualizations, like Filmstrip, to dynamically match UGC to individual product pages, so that you can implement these powerful experiences at scale.

Webpage with Mosaic visualization of UGC. Modal with product placements opens when customer clicks on UGC.

4) Capture new leads, increase app downloads, and drive website traffic from a  Media Wall, Mosaic, or Filmstrip visualization that contains a customized call to action specifically designed  to  meet your business needs. The UGC Commerce capability scales beyond the retail use case to fit the needs of any organization in any vertical industry looking to drive their business forward.

Lead generation: place call-to-action buttons under UGC to capture leads

Prompt users to download an app

Article referrals: increase time on site by linking users to articles related to pieces of UGC

With industry-leading rights request functionality built into Experience Manager Livefyre, you can seamlessly request permission to publish the creator’s content, and confidently bring these compelling experiences to market, knowing you have approval to do so. Plus, measure conversion results for these experiences using configurable referral tracking codes within Adobe Analytics or any other analytics solution.

Learn more about Experience Manager Livefyre here.

Contact us for a Livefyre demo.



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Let The Crowd Fuel The Demands For Optimized, Personalized Content

Marketing Cloud

Your customers’ expectations for optimized and highly personalized experiences continue to ratchet up. At the same time, company leadership and business unit owners have caught on to the business wins that these great experiences deliver. They keep asking you to run more and more tests and personalization activities. This is all great news, but it adds tremendous pressure for you to create more content — typically without the luxury of additional design resources.

This is where Adobe Experience Manager Livefyre and Adobe Target can help. Experience Manager Livefyre allows you to add extremely valuable, user-generated content (UGC) from Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube to your digital properties. Adobe Target lets you test and personalize that content so it delivers the best possible experience to your visitors, and helps you meet key business goals like greater engagement, higher conversion rates, and increased revenue.

What’s so special about user-generated content?
UGC, is some of the most powerful content your brand can leverage. Nielsen claims that 92 percent of consumers trust peer recommendations over all other forms of advertising. Evercore points out that companies see a 25 percent increase in conversion when they use organic images rather than professional product shots. And according to Forrester Research, 81 percent of all online adults read what other people have posted about products and services.

UGC is authentic. It’s real people talking about—sometimes gushing— about your brand. This content is gold.

And you need more content, right? Experience Manager Livefyre puts your customers to work creating that content for you. It automatically scans key sources of UGC that you can then display. And with a simple workflow, you can easily request usage rights.

For many of your visitors, asking them for permission to share their photos on a website serves as a compliment. It says, “our company really values what you shared.” That builds even more brand love. And in today’s day and age, brand loyalty is hard to come by.

Make UGC more valuable with testing and personalization.
You can make the UGC that you’ve added to your site work even harder for you by optimizing and personalizing it in Adobe Target. At the most basic level, test to find out if having UGC on a page — or pages — works better than not having it. Testing may even reveal that frequently updating customer tweets with images outperforms expensively produced, but static videos.

Experience A: Control Experience with Static Video

Experience B: Test Variation with UGC

Be sure to also test for optimal location, too, and find out what source of content resonates most with your visitors. Is it Instagram photos, YouTube videos, Twitter feeds or some other source? Discover how they prefer to consume it — from a media wall, a feature card with an image and comment, on a map, or in a mosaic or carousel. Do your visitors like to see what’s trending with other users, and do they get more engaged when you add a poll that updates with visitor responses in real time? Test, and find out what works best.

You can take that a step further with experience targeting that personalizes the content based on profile data collected by Adobe Target, or shared audiences in Adobe Marketing Cloud from Adobe Audience Manager or Adobe Analytics. Here’s what that could look like:

If you’re in the travel and hospitality business, you may want to provide experiences tailored to visitors for hundreds of locations, and in multiple languages. In this case, you can personalize with geography-specific UGC. When a visitor searches for a specific city like “San Francisco” or “New York,” Adobe Target uses that search term to deliver both brand content and user-generated content that showcases activities, hotels, or restaurants in each city.

San Francisco experience


New York experience

If you’re a major sports footwear brand, consider personalizing the UGC you deliver to visitors based on their product category affinity. If a visitor falls into the “running” audience you’ve identified and shared to Adobe Marketing Cloud, show Tweets and Instagram photos of customers talking about and wearing your newly released running shoe. When a visitor falls into your “soccer” audience, show them tweets and images of your most popular soccer cleats — maybe even ones featuring World Cup soccer players scoring winning goals with those shoes.

As a final example, imagine you work for a major national bank, and you’re trying to drive signups for the bank’s travel, cash-back, and student credit cards. Using the visitor profile, Adobe Target detects that a visitor loves travel, so you personalize the credit card landing page with a media wall from a social promotion you ran where current travel card cardholders used your hashtag. The wall contains posts about their trips and other perks they received as a result of using the card. Demonstrating that real cardholders love this card greatly improves the likelihood of driving more signups.

Use AI to scale personalization of UGC.
With automation, you can speed up and more precisely deliver personalized content to your visitors. That’s where artificial intelligence and machine learning capabilities found in Adobe Target and powered by Adobe Sensei come into play. You access these capabilities within the A/B test creation workflow of Adobe Target as options for allocating your traffic to your various experiences — Manual, Auto-Allocate, and Auto-Target (Adobe Target Premium only). These last two options are Adobe Sensei capabilities, and can be turned on with a single click.

Auto-Allocate delivers the winning test experience to more of your visitor traffic as the test runs, so that you can capitalize on the returns from the winner sooner. For example, you could use this to test which source, presentation, or location is best — Instagram or a Twitter feed, a media wall or mosaic, or in the center module or right rail.

If you are an Adobe Target Premium user, you can choose to use Auto-Target, the award-winning one-click personalization engine. With this option, Adobe Target automatically delivers the right experience to the right individual at the right time, to better meet business goals such as increasing engagement and sales. Auto-Target uses sophisticated machine learning to determine which of the available experiences to deliver to each visitor based on all the behavioral, contextual, and offline data available.

A solution for the content creation conundrum.
With today’s visitors demanding optimized and personalized experiences, and business stakeholders asking you to test and personalize more, the demand for fresh, impactful content has never been greater. Sourcing content for personalization doesn’t have to be expensive. It doesn’t even have to be time consuming. Experience Manager Livefyre helps you meet those content demands at scale with some of the best-performing content — content created by your customers and brand advocates. When used with Adobe Target, particularly with its Adobe Sensei capabilities, that valuable content becomes even more valuable as you optimize and personalize it in ways that drive up engagement, conversions, and revenue. In summary, UGC + AI = ROI!







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Opening the content pipeline for personalization in Adobe Target

Marketing Cloud

If you’ve been following the “Personalization” section of the Adobe Digital Marketing Blog, you’ve learned about a host of exciting capabilities in Adobe Target, and ways that it works with other Adobe Experience Cloud solutions. In my last post, I wrote about an exciting synergy between Adobe Target and Adobe Experience Manager Livefyre that helps you meet the demand for content that fuels your optimization and personalization activities.

This post provides a first look at how Adobe has reimagined the personalization workflows between Adobe Experience Manager and Adobe Target. Now, the experiences you create in Experience Manager can be fed directly into Adobe Target as “experience fragments,” so you can seamlessly test and personalize experiences across every screen and surface at scale. You’re seeing yet another payoff that comes from building your experience business on a truly end-to-end digital marketing platform.

Grab-and-go building blocks for experiences — experience fragments.
This analogy should help you understand the concept of an experience fragment. This summer, if you went on a picnic, you likely picked up all the ingredients to make a sandwich at your local grocery store. You then assembled your sandwich, and put it in a lunch bag with an apple or some chips. But if time was at a premium, you might have just grabbed a boxed lunch from a delicatessen. Boom! Picnic lunch ready.

Experience fragments work the same way. They’re grab-and-go experience building blocks, available in Adobe Experience Manager, that you can use to build your optimization and personalization experiences in Adobe Target. Those building blocks can be almost anything — a banner with a background image, copy, and a linked CTA, or an entire website page with multiple sections. They’re complete pieces of content that can contain images, copy, styles, videos, hyperlinks, and even actions like a script. And because they’ve already undergone an approval process in Experience Manager, they’re ready for immediate use in the decisioning engine of Adobe Target for maximizing engagement and conversions.

Create once, deliver everywhere.
This new workflow now opens a direct pipeline for these experience fragments to flow from Adobe Experience Manager into Adobe Target for fluid personalization across your channels. Within Experience Manager, your content authors and producers create and manage those experience fragments to ensure they’re consistent across web, mobile app, kiosk, email, and your other channels. They can then publish them and export them to Adobe Target. As an Adobe Target user, you now have a repository of hundreds of fully responsive experiences that you can test and personalize. This truly accelerates your content velocity for personalization.

An easy workflow to enable fluid personalization with Adobe Target.
By bringing experience fragments into Adobe Target, you can go beyond A/B testing and rules-based personalization. Now, you can personalize this content at scale using automation powered by Adobe Sensei’s artificial intelligence capabilities. You have no shortage of content for use and re-use to satisfy your drive to optimize and personalize. From within Adobe Target, as you create your test or personalization experiences in the Visual Experience Composer or Form Composer, you can use an experience fragment within a selectable container on your page. It’s really that easy.

Let’s take a deep dive into this workflow:
Say you’re an outdoor sports retailer who wants to optimize the entire hero banner for your website home page based on different category offerings — mountaineering, rock climbing, biking, and surfing.

First, in Adobe Experience Manager, your content author can create the experience fragment variations for each out outdoor activity that includes a banner image, offer, copy, and CTA.

In the Visual Experience Composer or Form Composer) of Adobe Target, you can create each new experience by swapping out the default site content for mountaineering for each of your new experience fragments.

You do that by selecting the experience fragment from your offers library in Adobe Target. Note the offer type is Experience Fragment, and the offer source is Adobe Experience Manager — that’s what tightly integrated digital marketing solutions will get you.

You just created a new experience in Adobe Target with the experience fragment that was authored in Adobe Experience Manager. It’s really that quick and easy.

After you’ve created each test variation, you continue with the simple three-step guided workflow. Create or select your audiences to target, including those shared audiences in the Marketing Cloud from Adobe Audience Manager or Adobe Analytics, choose your success metrics, and launch your activity. To create a personalization activity, you follow the same three steps, except you would specifically target the biking experience to your biking audience, and so on. This end-to-end workflow between Adobe Experience Manager and Adobe Target accelerates your content velocity for fluid personalization.

Unlock the full power of Adobe Target.

Beyond A/B testing or rules-based personalization, tap into the power of Adobe Sensei to let machine learning and artificial intelligence more precisely determine and deliver personalized content to your visitors. Auto-Allocate delivers the winning test experience to more of your visitor traffic as the test runs, so that you can capitalize on that winner sooner.

If you have Adobe Target Premium, you can use our award-winning one-click personalization engine, Auto-Target. Auto-Target relies on sophisticated machine learning to determine which of the available experiences to deliver to each visitor based on all the behavioral, contextual, and offline data you make available to it. Not sure if your visitor is a hiker or a biker, or which experience to deliver? That’s okay, Auto-Target does. Now, you’re scraping all the winnings off the table by automatically delivering the right experience to the right individual at the right time.

All of that power, delivered with a simple click of a radio button.

Experience Fragments — one more way you win with Adobe Experience Cloud.

The Experience Fragments feature in Adobe Target is a perfect example of how Adobe truly blends art and science. It represents yet another way that Adobe lets you use data (science) through testing and personalization — even machine learning and automation — to zero in on the types of creative and experiences (art) that your customers love. Your creative and optimization teams can now work tightly together to create more content, with a feedback loop for better-optimized content. And, as your customers show their love for these experiences by engaging, converting, and buying more, you will meet the ever-increasing demand from business stakeholders to test and personalize more.










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Live from Ad Week NYC: Adobe Think Tank Panelists Weigh the Power of Ad Tech to Deliver Measurable Results

Marketing Cloud

Adobe brought together 10 of the industry’s top executives, thought leaders, and influencers for a special installment of our innovative Think Tank forum during Advertising Week, which kicked-off yesterday in New York City. Dubbed “The Future of Advertising,” the conversation included a spirited live stream roundtable discussion about how advertising technology is affecting brands, agencies, publishers, and technology companies, and how these constituents can influence the evolution of advertising.

During the wide-ranging Think Tank discussion, our panelists — representing companies from National Geographic and USA Today to NBC Universal and MGM Resorts, provided keen insight into the future of advertising technology.

We explored how new opportunities are enabling companies to amplify their message via emerging technologies, such as automated advertising and data-driven creativity. We also talked about best practices for how marketers and advertisers can better assess ROI using real-time data to measure campaign effectiveness in an ever-evolving digital landscape.

From an ad tech perspective, the key takeaway is that data is the connecting thread for advancing automation, transparency, and measurement. The future of advertising is a world where companies that put ad dollars into the marketplace will know almost instantly which media channels drive lift and which don’t. The panel agreed that, at the end of the day, advertisers will need to harness that data to enhance customer experiences and engagement.

Growth in automation requires accurate data.
While automated advertising offers a high value for optimizing customer experiences, it is still evolving and is dependent on the adoption of digitally integrated databases. As a group, the Think Tank experts predicted that, by 2022, 80 percent of all advertising will be driven by automation.

While the automation trend may not shift quite that fast, the point is that technology is helping facilitate the deployment of targeted advertising and customized content across all of the touchpoints in a customer’s journey. But the growth of automation depends on more accurate data that connects ad spending with measurable results.

Automation brings a more efficient value chain.
A second important takeaway from Think Tank is that while automation is still evolving, it already is making the value chain more efficient. We’ve gone from an industry in which ad buys were planned on a quarterly basis and measured on a monthly basis to a world where planning, buying, insight, and optimization are all informed in real time.

As the Think Tank panel noted, the acceleration of cord-cutting by consumers is likely to fuel industry investments in even more automation. Ultimately, to leverage data at scale, marketers need automation to help glean insights from massive amounts of information.

Advertisers demand transparency.
In terms of transparency, the Think Tank panel noted that walled gardens — large media networks with troves of valuable data — have made it challenging to develop standards for measuring the effectiveness of digital advertising channels due to their siloed position.

But the marketplace is already influencing the ability for advertisers to get better quality data from these walled gardens. For example, we’ve seen a few social platforms recently move toward facilitating third-party verification of advertising metrics. Looking ahead, market pressure could very well continue to help make more of that data openly accessible.

Transparency is critical for the industry because advertisers are already demonstrating a reluctance to make buys that don’t include verifiable engagement metrics. As the Think Tank panel noted, it’s important for marketers to be able to accurately measure their ROI. Once advertisers consolidate siloed data into one centralized database, they are in a better position to track, analyze, and measure their ad spending.

Artificial intelligence is the newest ad tech.
Brands want more than just delivery metrics — they want insight into customer engagement. Another prediction from the Think Tank panel was that, within the next five years, we’ll see a convergence of human insights with data science — better known as artificial intelligence, or AI — applied to advertising in a meaningful way.

The consensus of the group was that data is useless without human interaction. The challenge for marketers is to use automation to improve efficiency, while better leveraging human analysis to formulate strategy and interpret how to best act on data-driven insights. The Think Tank panel agreed that we are moving toward a point where those metrics will be widely available, in real time.

Advertising effectiveness determined by emotional insights.
Another trend that is continuing to influence ad tech is a shift from the use of demographic data to psychographic data in order to measure the effectiveness of advertising — not just in terms of user interactions with a brand, but also in the context of how it influences consumer emotions.

As the panel noted, it is becoming increasingly important to develop authentic creative that resonates with audiences at a visceral level. The challenge is to develop meaningful content at every point in a customer journey. The ability to better measure outcomes at a granular level promises to help brands develop highly targeted ads that resonate with their existing and potential customer base and, ultimately, maximize business results.

Looking ahead, the future of advertising is going to be driven by customer-centric brand storytelling. The ultimate success of that content will hinge on an integrated data perspective that blends automation, transparency, and measurement.

There’s a lot more to learn from the Adobe Think Tank conversation. Watch the recorded discussion from Advertising Week NYC, and get ready to harness the power of advertising technology to improve your bottom line.

Join the conversation with my fellow #AdobeTT participants about using ad tech to improve personal and organizational effectiveness, and to build better relationships.

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Fueling Customer Intelligence for the Enterprise: Audience Analytics for AAM

Marketing Cloud

In our conversations with customers, we’ve observed that marketers and publishers often leverage audience segmentation and customer analytics in silos — a data management platform houses rich segmentation comprised of first, second, and third-party data assets, while the analytics side of the operation stores valuable customer engagement metrics and insights. Today, we’re breaking down these barriers to empower data and analytics to work together to seamlessly power and inform customer experiences. Adobe Analytics Cloud introduces Audience Analytics for Adobe Audience Manager — an enhanced integration between Audience Manager and Analytics, aimed at driving enterprise insights, intelligence, and action.

A richer customer profile.
As customer data grows increasingly varied and expansive, it is becoming that much more important for marketers to see a full view of a customer across digital touchpoints. Audience Analytics for Adobe Audience Manager provides the ability to take segments from Audience Manager — such as media exposure, offline or CRM attributes, third-party data, email engagement, and survey data — and then send it back into Analytics. This can be woven together with site or app metrics and engagement information to create a more complete customer profile for the enterprise.

Intelligent insights.
In the data economy, it is essential to understand and measure audience segmentation in the context of customer value, channel effectiveness, and consumer journey — and be able to react quickly. Adobe Analytics has a long-standing reputation for providing digital marketers with best-in-class analysis tools that immediately impact the customer journey. Through Audience Analytics for Adobe Audience Manager, marketers can incorporate Audience Manager segments into existing Analytics workflows. For example, the segment data can be utilized along with Analysis Workspace features such as the Segment Comparison tool, flow visualizations, and Venn diagrams. This new integration turns insights into action faster than before, giving marketers additional insights that guide the optimization of current campaigns, inform personalization strategy, and enhance existing segmentation practices.

Example Use Cases:

  • See the results of data sources stored in Audience Manager in Analytics.
    Ingest purchased third-party segments from Audience Manager — such as demographic or psychographic attributes — into Analytics to view overlap with awareness, consideration, and purchase segments, and optimize accordingly. For example, if you’re an online retailer looking to target a particular demographic — such as urban moms — you can purchase data from Audience Marketplace that gets you close to the criteria of that demographic. Incorporate that data back into Analytics to analyze how this prospective segment of urban moms interacts with your brand, and tie this information to their purchase behavior for key products.
  • Tie off-site advertising to user action. Send media exposure segments stored in Audience Manager to Analytics to see how particular placements, creatives, or campaigns contribute to funnel activity. For example, if you’re on the media team for a large financial institution, share the data associated with your media programs with your analytics team. Work with your analytics team to see how your media buying initiatives are contributing to campaigns — perhaps to convert new users to a low-interest mortgage offer. Optimize your media campaigns based on insights.
  • Use onsite engagement to inform content. Use Analytics workflow, such as the flow feature to test which first-party segments contribute most to user engagement, and apply your findings in ad sales efforts or content personalization accordingly. For example, the personalization team at a publishing company could send data from Audience Manager to Analytics, including second and third-party segments. Then, they could analyze which first-party segments contribute the most to user engagement, and work with content teams to optimize page content accordingly.
  • Consolidate reporting. Track data against key metrics like conversion and engagement in one place, rather than in separate silos. For example, an audience management team at an automotive brand might need to report key metrics to global stakeholders on all facets of audience engagement — including audience interaction with paid advertising, along with site and app engagements. They could work with the analytics team to bring Audience Manager segmentation into Analytics, and be able to report and benchmark across data sources.

Better together.
DMP’s have traditionally been viewed as data and activation hubs —  places to define and package an audience, activate to various channels, and optimize as necessary. Similarly, customer analytics platforms have customarily been valuable for tracking site and app engagement. Adobe is looking beyond tradition with Audience Analytics to more closely connect the strengths that exist within the Analytics Cloud. Audience Analytics for Adobe Audience Manager empowers marketers and publishers to collaborate across teams, consistently track audience metrics, and drive valuable customer experiences quickly and at scale.

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Save the Date: Think Tank by Adobe – The Future of Advertising

Marketing Cloud

We are on the cusp of one of the greatest and most disruptive technology waves in history — the experience business wave. Nearly 90 percent of companies surveyed by Gartner indicated that they expect to compete primarily on consumer experience. That’s up nearly three times from 2010. In our hyper-connected, hyper-local, hyper-personalized world, a brand’s success relies almost exclusively upon its ability to deliver compelling personalized experiences to consumers, both online and off. But what is the role of the advertiser in experience business? Will the future of marketing see seismic shifts as businesses look to turn advertisements into experiences?

Next week, live from New York City at Advertising Week, we’re bringing you the next iteration of Think Tank by Adobe: The Future of Advertising. The Think Tank working group will be comprised of advertising executives who will dive deeper into the opportunities and challenges advertisers face for the future, with a particular focus on automation, transparency, and measurement in delivering compelling ad experiences.

Join us for the live stream of our Future of Advertising Think Tank by Adobe on Monday, Sept. 25, at 11:30 a.m. ET.

Martin Kihn, research vice president at Gartner will moderate the live-streamed discussion focused on:

  • Automation: Once controversial, the adoption of automated, data-driven buying of advertising is now so mainstream that it is often taken for granted. Over 70 percent of digital video ad budgets, and over 80 percent of display ads are forecast to be bought through automated channels this year. Traditional TV advertising bought through automated software is expected to eclipse $3 billion in 2017, and double in 2018 to reach $6 billion. So, what’s next in the space?
  • Transparency: Pre-rolls on extremist videos. Fraudulent traffic driven by botnets. Cloudy business models and a murky supply chain. This Advertising Week, brand marketers have a lot to keep them up at night. Despite all the technological progress, our industry still struggles to answer the most basic questions like, “where are my ad dollars going?”
  • Measurement: For decades, one question has punctuated marketers’ nightmares: “did our advertising work?” The advent of digital advertising was supposed to provide a respite from the years of relying on GRPs and subscription figures as proxies for effectiveness. But did it? Marketers remain hamstrung by models that, despite the improvement over the pre-digital era they represent, fail to properly account for all the necessary variables to accurately understand how marketing spend impacts the bottom line. We’ll explore measurement gaps — and solutions.

The Think Tank working group that will tackle these topics include luminaries across different industries, disciplines and brands:

  • Sharmilan Rayer, VP, audience & programmatic, NBCUniversal.
  • Phil Gaughran, chief integration officer, McGarryBowen.
  • Kelly Andresen, SVP, head of get creative, USA TODAY Network.
  • Jill Cress, CMO, National Geographic.
  • Will Warren, EVP, digital investment, Zenith Media.
  • Aubrey Flynn, CDO and SVP, REVOLT TV & Media.
  • Megan Estrada, VP of media, MGM Resorts.
  • Gary Milner, director of global digital marketing, Lenovo.
  • Keith Edie, VP, Advertising Cloud, Adobe.

Add the event to your calendar and join us via live stream on Monday, Sept. 26, at 11:30 a.m. ET.
Adobe Think Tanks are in-person forums for sharing ideas among luminaries working at the cutting edge of technology, communication, and creativity in a variety of disciplines. Past Think Tanks include the Future of the Experience Business, the Future of Digital Experience, the Future of Work, and the Internet of Things. We encourage you to follow @AdobeExpCloud and #AdobeTT on Twitter to join the conversation. Visit for more information.

The post Save the Date: Think Tank by Adobe – The Future of Advertising appeared first on Digital Marketing Blog by Adobe.

Adobe’s 2016 Holiday Shopping Predictions Bring ‘Good Tidings’ for 2017

Marketing Cloud

Retailers know the holiday shopping season ramps up long before the rest of us start sporting our festive sweaters and scarves. That’s why it’s never too early to think ahead.

In the fall of 2016, Adobe Digital Insights’ Holiday Shopping Predictions highlighted trends retailers should have expected to see as they geared up for last year’s holiday season. Although we’ll soon be releasing our 2017 report for the coming holiday season, it’s worth a look in the rearview mirror to see how our 2016 predictions stacked up to reality, and what that means for your marketing strategy as you prepare for the 2017 season.

Our findings revealed that there were still some large gaps between being aware of trends and successfully leveraging that awareness. With record-breaking sales last year, the retail industry, especially e-commerce, came out ahead. But analysts are anticipating that 2017 retail holiday shopping sales will be lower than last year’s — dropping from a 4.8 percent growth in sales in 2016 to only a 2 percent growth in 2017. This means retailers will have to work even harder this year to remain competitive.

By looking back at our 2016 predictions, and aligning those with real-world results, we gained some important insights that we believe will still hold true for this upcoming season.

1. Online Shopping.

Prediction:  While we projected that consumers would increase their online purchases in 2016, we also predicted that the motivations for online purchases would shift. Consumers would move from looking for great deals (–11 percent from 2015) to wanting more convenience — avoiding traffic and long lines (+4 percent from 2015), and being able to shop from work (+7 percent from 2015).

Reality: Online shopping saw an 11 percent year-over-year growth during the holiday season. Interestingly, much of the growth in revenue happened at the end of the holiday season as shoppers took advantage of later shipping options. Retailers who experienced low growth, may be reaching a visit plateau as fewer net new customers shop online.

What it means for 2017: For traditional retailers, it’s important to note that despite growth in online sales, most customers still favor in-store purchasing, supplemented by online shopping. For pure play retailers, the growth in online shopping is good news. Investing more in mobile and display ads (see below) will be important to increasing your growth metrics. This means that providing a seamless experience between your online and offline channels is essential. So think outside the box when developing your holiday season campaigns to create a seamless experience between your online and offline brand. Given the growth in last-minute revenue that we saw last year, there’s also an opportunity for retailers to take advantage of last-minute gift buying with convenience-oriented promotions like click-and-collect or express shipping.

2. Mobile Shopping.

Prediction: In 2016, we anticipated that mobile would play a major role in holiday shopping. In fact, we predicted that it would overtake desktop for the first time in terms of driving visits to a website during the holiday season.

Reality: While desktop remained the biggest driver of visits and sales — at 50 and 73 percent, respectively — for the first time ever, there were six days in which smartphone traffic surpassed desktop traffic.

What it means for 2017: To leverage the continued growth in mobile shopping, retailers need to enhance their mobile sites. Mobile web browsing remains the dominant interaction between customers and users, but it still isn’t driving conversion as hoped. Retailers should make it easier to convert visitors to customers by allowing shoppers to check out as guests. Mobile apps can also improve the experience, especially when retailers use a platform that offers flexible APIs to connect their mobile apps with other content management systems, product databases, and ERP or CRM systems. This will make it easier to design a mobile experience that is optimized to allow customers to search for specific products.

3. Display Ads.

Prediction: Last year, we noted that digital display advertising was the best way to lead people to a specific discounted product or popular category. In part, this prediction was based on a downward trend of consumers’ preference for receiving SMS or text messages as ways to alert them to sales.

Reality: Search advertising boosted Black Friday performance, which increased 16 percent year-over-year, reinforcing the fact that display ads are the best way to deliver personalized ads that drive shoppers toward a specific product or category search.

What it means for 2017: Retailers, particularly those in e-commerce, should be entering the holiday season with a strong strategy for paid media campaigns. To succeed, you must use third-party platforms as part of your paid advertising strategy. By harnessing the data of other retailers, you can enhance targeting in your display ads, and complement your Google and Amazon tactics to ensure the highest impact of your paid search dollars. These paid ads can drive traffic to physical stores, as well as online venues. Also, don’t forget about dynamic display ads that can target customers based on products they have previously browsed on your website. These types of ads are getting easier to assemble and deliver. But, more critically, the competition for shoppers’ attention and dollars continues to escalate.

With the holiday shopping frenzy only a few short months away, retailers need a marketing strategy that covers all the bases, and doesn’t leave any revenue stone unturned. We anticipate that many of the trends we saw last year will continue into 2017, but we’ll be as excited as you to see what Adobe Digital Insights’ Holiday Shopping Predictions for 2017 reveals later this month. Stay tuned.

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Experience is Everything: How B2B Companies Are Competing with Marketplaces

Marketing Cloud

Evolving forces are reshaping the B2B landscape, leaving many marketing teams to rethink the way they talk to their customers. Forrester Research predicts B2B e-commerce sales in the United States will top $1.1 trillion by 2020, giving B2B companies more than a trillion reasons to embrace the trend toward consumerization.

There’s just one problem — online behemoths like Amazon Business and Alibaba make intimidating competitors because they have set the standard for creating trustworthy online experiences backed by great functionality and responsive customer service. But B2B companies can differentiate themselves from third-party players by delivering optimal customer experiences. That means learning how to leverage direct-to-customer platforms without negatively affecting existing distribution partners.

By investing in state-of-the art digital asset and content management technology, as well as analytics, targeting, and optimization solutions, your company can set itself apart from large third-party marketplaces, while giving your customers a reason to keep coming back to you. Putting the digital technology capable of delivering next-level customer experiences in place is precisely what will determine the survival of the fittest in the rapidly evolving B2B ecosystem.

Diversifying your B2B strategy.

It’s easy to think of Amazon Business and Alibaba as competition, but there may be some value in considering the old adage, “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.”

Going toe-to-toe with big marketplaces through your own online channel is as direct as it gets, but you can turn this competition into an opportunity.

“There are different ways you can experiment with B2B marketplaces,” says Tristan Saw, senior director of strategy and consulting at SapientRazorfish, Adobe Digital Marketing Partner of the Year in 2015 and 2016. “The first [step] is to use a site with a broad customer base, like Amazon Business or Alibaba, to test product demand before selling directly to customers through your own site.”

A company’s infrastructure and sales goals should determine how much it leverages third-party partners. Companies already profiting from a direct-to-customer framework may want to augment their existing online marketplace. But companies new to e-commerce might be better served by placing new products on a third-party marketplace to test the market opportunity before investing in the development of a direct channel of their own.

Several key factors play into developing the best strategy, all of which are unique to your brand and marketing. That’s why every company can find value in experimenting with direct channels and third-party marketplaces to see which dynamic works best in the context of their own digital transformation.

The path to a custom-branded marketplace.
Every enterprise-level company should be developing a strategy for competing with third-party marketplaces. If your sights are set on one-upping the heavy hitters, the secret sauce is to create a customer experience your visitors won’t soon forget. That means developing an environment that is simple, intuitive, personalized, and flexible — where B2B buyers can easily navigate from product searches through the purchasing process, and beyond, to aftermarket sales and service.

It also means creating an environment that rivals the purchasing experiences B2B buyers are already familiar with as consumers on state-of-the art retail platforms. After all, every B2B buyer who visits your site, whether you like it or not, is going to be judging each aspect of the purchasing process by comparing it to their own B2C experiences.

“If you’re serious about selling directly online, you will need to deliver a customer experience that drives sales,” says Tristan. “In order to compete, you need to invest in becoming an experience-led business, which means optimizing every digital customer touch point.”

In fact, many B2B companies can benefit from embracing a “frenemy-type” relationship with third-party marketplaces by leveraging them for testing and analytics, and ideas for the customization of your own site.

Use third-party marketplaces to test and analyze. Taking on the big guys isn’t for the faint of heart, and even well-established brands have fallen victim to their overwhelming influence in the marketplace. But there’s no denying the power of big, centralized marketplaces, so go ahead and take advantage of their reach.

Using third-party infrastructure provides a relatively low-risk test bed. By taking advantage of an established marketplace like Amazon Business, you can place your products alongside others to evaluate market demand, determine whether you can meet the needs of your buyers, and shape your own infrastructure development strategy. Once you start analyzing KPIs, such as purchasing history, demographics, and conversions, you’ll have data to help formulate a strategy that defines the best direct-to-customer channels for your business.

Select the best platform given the market opportunity. Should testing and analytics prove there is real value in using large marketplaces to your advantage, you easily can increase your presence, or know how best to build your own e-commerce platform that will meet the specific needs and expectations of your customer base. On the other hand, if demand is low, you’ll know not to invest heavily in your own e-commerce platform — or at least not until you can iterate and optimize your offering and approach to attract the market you need. Finally, there are times you’ll want to take a dual approach and determine how to align your third-party sales strategy with a direct-to-customer approach on your own site.

Weigh the pros and cons of a B2B exchange.
The need to evolve into an organization that can utilize digital tools and techniques to compete with industry rivals may cause some B2B marketers to rush the process. This is a mistake. While each approach to setting your company apart from third-party marketplace giants has its advantages, there are also caveats that must be considered before implementing your strategy.

For starters, there are financial considerations. Developing your own infrastructure requires an investment in time, staffing, and financial resources. “By selling through Amazon, they’re bringing a marketplace to you,” says Tristan. “They’re giving you access to infrastructure — like payment gateways, warehousing, and delivery systems.”

While services such as fulfillment, drop shipping, and distribution may sound like an excellent bargain, they don’t come without a price. Amazon fees vary by contract, but Tristan estimates they’re about 20 percent. “You’re giving up considerable margin to be able to sell through their channel,” he says. “That’s one element of the risk.”

Another risk factor of a shared platform is losing your customers to your competitors. If you’re going to utilize a third-party site, you’re not going to be the only brand on the page offering the same or similar products. That’s why setting yourself apart from the rest of the pack is an absolute necessity. Odds are, any third-party marketplace is going to be flooded with your competitors lurking in sidebars, banner ads, and “customers also viewed” sections — only a click away from your offer. “This dynamic could lead to customers being lost to the lowest bidder,” says Tristan. “If I’m a buyer on Amazon Business, I can shop not only for your products, but your competitors’ products too.”

Competition isn’t the only worry that comes along with using third-party sites. The lack of control you have over customer feedback and reviews means trusting your brand’s reputation to someone else. It’s not uncommon for customer-oriented sites to get the praise for easy returns, while manufacturers get the negative review for selling a subpar product. “That’s the worst-case scenario because you just hinder your brand,” says Tristan. “While reviews provide transparency and social proof for buyers, they can also lead to poor brand perception from negative feedback. You shouldn’t shy away from this though, as it can also be a key input for improving your products.”

Embracing third-party infrastructure is also going to have an effect on other partners, owned portals, and sales teams. Special pricing is difficult through third-party marketplaces, and the lack of price consistency could lead to customer confusion and attrition in the long run. “If I’m a huge conglomerate that can afford to buy in bulk then most companies will offer me a volume-based discount,” says Tristan. “On Amazon, it is often unclear if you will get a discount, and sometimes you have to actively request it from a seller.”

Historically, prices on many third-party sites have varied considerably, but Amazon Business, in particular, is working to implement consistent pricing — another improvement that’s destined to place further pressure on smaller competitors in the near future. For example, Amazon is already experimenting with a pricing structure that eliminates the need to speak with a sales rep.

And this is only the beginning. Other steps to consider when adding another layer of complexity to your sales strategy include maintaining consistency across channels, managing customer relationships, and managing costs specific to each channel.

Adopt a digital foundation that will prioritize customer experience.
While leveraging B2B marketplaces should be part of your marketing mix, if you’re serious about competing with third-party B2B exchanges, you need to invest in your own web infrastructure, in which optimizing customer experience should be the number one priority. That means maintaining a level of relevancy and consistency that follows a vast array of potential buyers across every step of the customer journey. To do that, you’ll need to deploy a digital foundation that collects and analyzes data, creates and publishes content, and helps manage it across digital and offline avenues — transforming how partners and customers engage with your company across every channel.

Few companies know this better than Constellation Energy, which is investing in its own B2B infrastructure in anticipation of a future that may well bring direct competition from B2B marketplace competitors.

Approximately 2.5 million residential, public sector, and business customers rely on Constellation Energy as their energy supplier, each with their own unique set of needs that must be catered to. “We wanted customer relationships to be long-lasting relationships based on value delivered by us,” says Michael Cammon, director of digital marketing at Constellation Energy. “It’s important to take those relationships a step further by truly understanding the problems our customers are trying to solve, and how best to solve them as they relate to energy.”

Any brand looking to set itself apart from larger competitors should take a cue from Constellation Energy by customizing a digital experience platform that will help their marketing teams deliver consistent and memorable messages at scale, no matter the medium.

The sheer size of the energy group at Constellation — with customers ranging from large commercial and industrial organizations to residential and small businesses — meant that any digital transformation effort would have to address problems inherent to large enterprises. “We were very aware that the internal content management system technology we were using in the past was too difficult for a lot of our non-technical content owners to handle,” says Karen Jennings, a digital marketer with Constellation Energy.

One of the challenges for Constellation was integrating legacy software with a digital platform that delivers the tools needed to achieve the company’s marketing goals. “For example, we wanted to look at a scalable system that was easy to use, had an easy to understand vocabulary, and made it easy to manage assets,” says Karen.

By choosing a module-based system with room to grow, Constellation Energy was able to future-proof its digital transformation, while expanding the tools available to content editors using the system. Karen says the company’s content management system choice was based on scalability and growth potential. It also provided a tool that was user-friendly in terms of helping content owners create web pages and manage content, without passing maintenance work downstream.

The result of Constellation’s dedication to its digital transformation takes the customer experience to a whole new level. “For example, we have a team that works in governmental aggregation,” explains Karen. “They work at the municipality level, securing an energy price for everyone that lives in a specific jurisdiction. Now, our team can easily set up landing pages for every community to provide accurate pricing, based on what was negotiated for that community.”

Constellation Energy’s use of an integrated digital asset manager helps the utility company manage content without relying on its IT department, while building highly personalized experiences, custom-fit to meet the needs of a wide array of customers. Whether you’re marketing across third-party sites or your own digital properties, you’ll need an integrated content management system of your own to succeed.

Customer experience is the differentiating factor.
There’s no doubt B2C experiences are influencing B2B design, with marketplaces such as Amazon and Alibaba already fully built to service the needs of the B2B buyer. While mega-exchanges pose a competitive threat for some established B2B companies, notes Tristan, they are vulnerable to companies that can deliver more personalized online experiences. That’s why succeeding in the context of this emerging dynamic means developing the right experience delivery framework for your business. In order to optimize marketing, sales, and support, B2B companies need to understand that optimizing customer experiences on their own websites is the key to remaining competitive.

Whether you’re leveraging a large third-party marketplace, your own B2B e-commerce site, or a hybrid solution, experience is everything. Determine the right digital strategy that will help you create the kind of memorable experiences that your customers will want to come back for, while making sure you’re not negatively affecting your existing distribution channels. With the right approach, you can set your company apart as a customer-centric enterprise, willing to go above and beyond to cater to your customers’ needs, regardless of where you interact with them.

Learn more about Razorshop B2B online, or explore how Adobe is facilitating fluid B2B experiences in high tech and manufacturing.

#B2B Strategy

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