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At the Adobe Summit today in Salt Lake City, Adobe is raining down major announcements from its Marketing Cloud.

The long list of new features marks the Cloud’s full-scale entry into the Internet of Things (IoT), wearables, and ad tech.

In a meshing of the digital and physical worlds that VP of strategy Suresh Vittal described to me as “a once-in-a-lifetime thing,” the Cloud is making real-world marketing a full-fledged citizen of the Adobe marketing environment.

A new IoT software development kit (SDK), an extension of the mobile SDK, now facilitates measurement and analysis of connected devices. There are new digital content testing, optimization, and personalization capabilities across IoT devices, including wearables. Analytics like traffic patterns have been added to the Cloud’s existing beacon capabilities, and in-app messages can now be triggered by iBeacons.


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A mobile app hotel key, managed through the Adobe Cloud

Above: A mobile app hotel key, managed through the Adobe Cloud

Image Credit: Adobe

New capabilities in Adobe Experience Manager allow marketers to create personalized interactive content experiences — with images, 3D interactive models, video, and other content — in those life-sized displays we’re beginning to see in retailers or hotels, and even in screen-equipped vending machines. Not to mention ATMs, gas station pump screens, car dashboard screens, and appliances.

There are new Intelligent Location capabilities for GPS and iBeacon data, such as being able to see traffic and customer engagement patterns around interactive displays in hotels, museums, airports, and the like.

For some time, observers have been touting the impending convergence of marketing and ad tech. Today, Adobe is claiming the title of having the first Marketing Cloud to seriously converge the two.

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New Audience Core Services now allow a wide range of audience and behavioral data — including from external CRM sources like Salesforce or Oracle — to help target paid ads through Adobe Media Optimizer. A new “native connectivity” between segmented audiences and ad execution is intended to reduce the workflow of what would otherwise be a multi-step process.

There is also a native integration of programmatic ad buying, which the company said eliminates the need for integration with multiple ad tech and data providers. Through a new, self-service user interface in Media Optimizer, brands can manage real-time bidding across ad exchanges.

Its Marketing Cloud, Adobe said, has become a “one-stop shop for all your targeting, data and billing needs within one platform, [which is] an incredibly valuable step toward true programmatic.”

Car dashboards are now part of a marketer's toolset in the Adobe Cloud

Above: Car dashboards are now part of a marketer’s toolset in the Adobe Cloud

Image Credit: Adobe

In a new Audience Marketplace, marketers can buy third-party, anonymous data for segmentation, and then use that across paid media channels. There is also support for the buying, selling, and sharing of anonymous first-party data and segmentation — i.e., second party data. Adobe offers the use case of a hotel and a travel company exchanging data to better enable mutual targeting of ads, emails, or web content.

First- , second-, and third-party data can now also be used for ad campaigns on Adobe Primetime, the multiscreen TV platform. Audience Marketplace is part of a new Audience Manager, which also includes cross-device identification for tracking authenticated users across devices. Adobe is also introducing Campaign Standard to bring a new level of coordination for the delivery of emails.

“Data is one place where competitors like Oracle, with its BlueKai and Datalogix acquisitions, had a significant advantage on Adobe,” VentureBeat VP of research John Koetsier told me. “Adobe is starting to address that with Audience Marketplace.”

In mobile marketing, Vittal said, new enhancements help to “take complexity out of the process.” There is, for example, a greater integration of mobile marketing with app life cycles from development through engagement, and the Cloud’s ecosystem is getting more partners.

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The new alliance with mobile marketing platform Vibes, for instance, includes the integration of app engagement tools and the availability of personalized digital passes for Apple Passbook and Google Wallet. Enhancements have also been made in multiple platform app development, user acquisition, app analytics, and user engagement.

Koetsier noted that “mobile was already a strength of the Adobe Marketing Cloud, with one of the most complete solutions” on the market.

“By now adding wearables and IoT, Adobe is signaling that it is doubling down and has no intention of being out-innovated in this fastest-growing sector.”

Non-mobile ecosystem partners include BrightEdge, which offers a content performance marketing platform based around its massive Data Cube index of Web content.

A new, integrated landing page optimizer (LPO) from the San Mateo, California-based firm is being offered with the updated Adobe Cloud. It allows a marketer to click a button and, via machine learning that improves with examples, to immediately see competitive landing pages.

BrightEdge CEO Jim Yu told me that LPO Intelligence is the first product that lets a marketer instantly get “competitive insights into competing offers” on landing pages that are relevant, not simply similar.

BrightEdge's Landing Page Optimizer, integrated into the updated Marketing Cloud

Above: BrightEdge’s Landing Page Optimizer, integrated into the updated Marketing Cloud

Image Credit: BrightEdge

Adobe’s updating of its Cloud’s capabilities reflects that the “demand for connected experiences is going up,” Vittal said.

It’s “not enough for IoT and mobile experiences to be connected,” he said, because consumers want experiences that have been envisioned and are being managed across digital and physical, as well as across devices.

Compared to other major marketing clouds like Salesforce, Oracle, or IBM, Vittal said that Adobe thinks “about the use cases far more broadly than anyone,” encompassing an integrated experience “across all channels.”

“Nobody covers as many use cases as we do, with as broad a partner ecosystem,” he said.

Interestingly, Adobe is also announcing today that the Interactive Experience professional services unit at ostensible marketing cloud competitor IBM is establishing a practice dedicated to Adobe’s Marketing Cloud.

When I pointed out that IBM has its own set of marketing solutions, Vittal said that the IBM consulting unit has decided to “support our clients with the services they want.”

“As we’ve seen in our just-released marketing clouds report,” Koetsier said, “IBM’s [marketing tech] business is in a state of chaos, with 40 to 50 products that have different brands, user interfaces, databases, and pricing.”

“I’m not surprised that the company is starting to support Adobe Marketing Cloud.”

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