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If you’re like me, when you think of Adobe you think of Photoshop, Acrobat, Illustrator, and InDesign. That’s still Adobe, but it’s old-school Adobe. The company’s fastest-growing division is Adobe Marketing Cloud, expanding each of the past few quarters at 20-25 percent year-over-year, and taking a massive bite out of the retail analytics sector.

“$7.20 out of $10 spent at the top 500 online retailers in the U.S. goes through our Adobe Marketing Cloud,” Adobe research analyst Tamara Gaffney told me yesterday. “We are the enterprise leader in this space.”

I’ll say.

AdobeWe were chatting about the 2013 Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday shopping seasons, in which Adobe is predicting record Thanksgiving sales, record Black Friday sales, and record Cyber Monday sales. I wondered how the company’s predictions could be accurate, and Gaffney told me that Adobe’s marketing tools had direct visibility into a staggering 450 billion retail website visits over the past seven years, giving last year’s holiday shopping predictions a 99 percent accuracy level.

“This is absolutely huge data … it’s pretty much unmatchable,” Gaffney said.

This ain’t your Daddy’s Adobe. Not your 1990s or early 2000s Adobe, either.

Adobe’s transformation into a marketing analytics giant happened almost overnight, mostly via acquisition. The company bought Omniture in 2009 for $1.8 billion, first bringing its online marketing and web analytics solutions into the company as a separate business unit, and then rolling it, along with some other products from acquisitions of Business Catalyst and Demdex, into the Adobe Marketing Cloud unit in 2012.

Which, essentially overnight, made the company a force to reckon with in marketing technology.

Marketing Cloud grew 25 percent in Q2 2013, and 28 percent in Q3, and helps online retailers optimize their sites, their purchase cycle, their digital advertising, and much more, as well as see what online shoppers are putting in their carts, taking out, and what the total value is. It does not, however, see individual web surfer data — at least not at Adobe’s level.

“We aggregate all of that information, but we don’t see any shopper data,” Gaffney says.

Omniture was one of the fastest-growing companies in the world when Adobe acquired it. It looks like this is one case where an acquisition has not slowed the growth of a hot new company at all. That’s perhaps, more than a little surprising, given it’s the marriage of big data and unleashed creativity, which would appear to go together like grey poupon and chocolate ice cream.

Somehow, however, it works.

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