Adobe: New Unified Customer Profile will personalise ads as never before

Cloudy marketing tools get AI powers... what do you mean, bad timing?

Adobe Summit "We've emerged beyond just the company that’s known for Photoshop," claimed Adobe's Cody Crnkovich, head of platform, partners and strategy, today as he introduced AI and profiling features designed to enable marketers to deliver more creepy personalised advertising and comms.

He has a point. The Adobe Experience Cloud, an online service for managing advertising and marketing campaigns, is now processing 230 trillion customer transactions per year, he said. And Adobe Campaign is dishing out 150 billion emails annually, which is “20 emails per person on Earth”.

Just think about that.

At the Adobe Summit under way in Las Vegas the company is to tell 13,000 attendees that the key to more effective marketing is personalisation.

“Consumers prefer a personalised experience,” Justin Merickel, VP Adobe Advertising Cloud, told to the press ahead of the summit. “When you walk into that restaurant they know the food you want to order, they know your drink. We want marketers to drastically improve the experience of digital advertising.”

Achieving this goal means using data for customer profiling. Announced today is a “new unified Customer Profile,” which can include data on online behaviour, advertising exposure, device use, and additional data such as that from Microsoft Dynamics CRM (Customer Relationship Manager).

Customers can be tracked across different devices, such as phone and PC, thanks to “Cloud Device Co-op.” Marketers that sign up agree to share data with other companies so that Adobe’s cloud knows which devices are used by the same customer, though without recording or revealing who that person is. However, Device Co-Op is only launching in the USA and Canada for the moment.

Adobe has its own common data language, called XDM (Experience Data Models), to unify this data. Another announcement is a new Data Science Workspace, a tool for creating custom data models, trained by the data stored in Adobe’s cloud.

The company will also provide pre-built AI services. The first will cover image tagging and cropping. Services to come will cover customer journeys – a marketing term to describe the path from first contact to final purchase – and customer profiles.

Now in beta, Adobe is also offering its own serverless platform for developers, called I/O Runtime, and built on Apache OpenWhisk. The idea is that running functions close to the data being processed will optimise performance. Functions can be triggered by events such as customer actions.

Another announcement concerns Advertising Cloud Creative, a self-service tool for marketers to enable them to modify campaigns, including design elements and advertising copy, without needing to go back to their agency.

This is one of several integrations which the company is making between its own services. Adobe has multiple cloud services to the point of confusion: Advertising Cloud, Analytics Cloud, Marketing Cloud, and of course Creative Cloud, home to its design products such as Photoshop, and is working to build better links between them.

Adobe’s timing is unfortunate. The press briefing on the above came in the midst of revelations concerning misuse of Facebook data. Could Adobe’s data on customers also be misused?

Adobe is not a social media company, but nevertheless is aware of the risks. “The GDPR initiative, especially with the news happening today, is likely to be the start of a data privacy revolution,” said Crnkovich. “The Adobe cloud platform now enables Experience Cloud customers to be ready for GDPR.”

Despite this reassurance, The Reg’s question on what privacy controls are available to end users was shunted into “We’ll get back to you on that.” At the time of writing we'd yet to hear back. ®

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