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Two years ago next week, Adobe announced it was purchasing the Paris-based B2B/B2C marketing platform Neolane.

Every anniversary should be as important to the resulting union.

It was a turning point for Adobe’s Marketing Cloud, Adobe’s Kerry Reilly told me yesterday. She’s director of product marketing for Adobe Campaign, one of eight sections in the current Cloud and the name given to the integrated Neolane.

VB Insight’s recent report on Marketing Clouds ranked the Adobe Marketing Cloud at the top for its “scope of solution,” as well as for its market penetration. But, given its current capabilities, it’s hard to recall what the Marketing Cloud was just two years ago.

Pre-Neolane, the Cloud didn’t have a major campaign management component, much less a cross-channel one. That meant no email marketing except through partners, although Reilly noted there was a bit of mobile messaging in the Experience Manager. Email addresses were not even kept, unless the client specifically requested.

There was no significant tracking of customer behavior via profiles, such as how a user has responded so far to marketing communications.

For websites, the Cloud only had some landing page management through Experience Manager. For offline marketing, there was no capability to handle direct mail, kiosks, or call centers. The focus was primarily on some lead and customer acquisition tools for the top of the sales funnel.

“Without Neolane,” Reilly said, “we’d be missing a big part of the marketing cloud.” The acquisition added not just profiling, she said, but delivery.

The year before the Neolane purchase, Adobe had announced its Creative Cloud, boosting its reputation for creative tools like Photoshop. The company’s key market appeared to be agencies, designers, and developers, and only secondarily marketers.

Neolane, based in Paris, had been enjoying annual revenue of just under $60 million and a reputation as a “conversational marketing platform.” Adobe offered a bigger canvas, as well as a 10-times revenue purchase price of $600 million.

Now, Reilly said, level one of the integration of Neolane for data, functions, or user interface is essentially complete. Level two integration is underway, she said, increasing ease-of-use and developing real-time triggers that, for instance, deliver mobile push notifications once you’ve entered a geofenced store.

Adobe’s purchase of Neolane came at the midpoint between Oracle’s purchases of marketing automation platform Eloqua and of email marketing provider Responsys. It was announced shortly after Salesforce acquired mobile/email marketing service ExactTarget.

We’re now seeing the evolved shape of those clouds, at a point when those big purchases have more or less been digested. Salesforce, for instance, recently dropped the ExactTarget name, preferring simply to refer to that functionality as the Marketing Cloud. But, with or without their given names, Neolane, ExactTarget, and Eloqua/Responsys became the hearts of their new parents’ marketing platforms.

For Adobe, the Neolane purchase defined its evolution into what is now arguably the highest-ranked platform. At the end of last year, for instance, Adobe’s Marketing Cloud took top ranking in The Forrester Wave report on Enterprise Marketing Suites and in Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for Digital Marketing Hubs.

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