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Machines can help marketers do their job faster and better: Brad Rencher, Senior VP and GM, Digital Marketing, Adobe

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A software company, once known only for its creative products like Photoshop has come a long way. It’s interesting how Adobe has covered so much ground in a short span of five years and become the go-to company for marketers. Making sense of data, getting actionable insights from it and putting them to use, are what brands hope to do better than their competitors today. It’s where they require handholding and the Adobe Marketing Cloud, a suite of functions put together for this purpose, claims to be equipped to do just that. Rashi Bisaria spoke to Brad Rencher, Senior Vice President and General Manager, Digital Marketing, Adobe at the Adobe Digital Marketing Symposium in Singapore, about the maturity of marketers and their readiness to adopt this suite. Edited excerpts:

Rashi: Are marketers being able to meet the expectations of customers today?
Brad: Some are while some are not. You still bump into old school marketers who want to do a TV advertisement. That is their job. It doesn’t work anymore. Very soon, if you are doing it right, it shouldn’t look like marketing. That is what customers are expecting. If you don’t do it someone else will.

Rashi: Do you think digital marketing should work in tandem with traditional marketing?
The distinction between traditional and digital marketing, might persist for a while but it’s just marketing. It means, ‘ I’m engaging with you to give you value and you are engaging with me, reading my content, engaging with the product, buying it’. The principles of marketing are timeless. But it has to work in real time and you have to do it at more touch points. The difference between analogue marketing and digital marketing is growing.

Rashi: What are the top 3 challenges marketers face today while executing digital marketing or adapting to it?
First is technology. The question that bothers them is ‘What technology do I use?’ Most marketers are intimidated by technology and what to do with it. That’s where Adobe comes in, to let marketers put their worries aside.

The second big challenge is about people, about the organisation. Do my people have the right skills? The answer to these questions is usually a big no.

The third big challenge is around process. If you are going to drive a massive personalisation campaign, how will you create as many personalised messages? It’s almost like going back to supply chain management. Process is super important even though marketers don’t want to focus on it.

Rashi: Are Marketers using the full potential of Adobe Marketing Cloud or are they still in the process of adopting it?
There is a maturity curve that marketers go through when they start using it.They might start with analytics and first want to understand the data. Then they have hypothesis and want to execute those. Adobe Marketing Cloud is very powerful and can be as advanced as you want it to be and the challenge is to simplify it so that when people are getting started you don’t overwhelm them, with too much technology and too much capability. Some are using it to the fullest extent, in fact pushing it while there are some who are just getting started.

Rashi: Which sector is readily adopting it in India?
In India, ecommerce is really booming, media companies also, and the government and these sectors are quick in adopting it. Massive modernisation is happening inside the Indian government. Telecommunication is another sector that is using our services.

Rashi: What are the next few innovations you are trying out on the platform?
Data Content and Delivery of experiences are what I’m really excited about. Inside data, it is predictive intelligence that is significant. There has been a lot of conversation around big data . Its not really about how big your data base is but what you are doing with it. What are you doing with that data, how it is impacting your business and what are the measurable results, are some of the important questions that need to be answered. We want to know how we can make machines work faster and let the human mind be the creative engine. When people ask me if machines will take over from marketers and render them redundant, I tell them it is not possible. But machines can help marketers do their job better and faster. So predictive intelligence is what I am interested in. We will also be coming up with new technology to facilitate the Internet of Things. We are doing a lot of work in the Adobe labs around the world. Machine Learning and Mobile are the areas of focus.

Rashi: What kind of advantage does India have in adopting this technology?
The education system of India focuses on STEM topics. Marketers in India are comfortable with technology which is not the case in other parts of the world. So the technical orientation of employees in India helps them move faster in their journey of digital marketing that those in other places. Second advantage is the Mobile revolution in India. That is driving India into the future faster than the other countries. Third is that a lot of innovation is happening at start-ups and at companies like Adobe in India. So companies are getting driven by these examples.

Rashi: Which country is most mature with respect to digital marketing ?
The US and UK are still the most mature markets. But now the gap is closing. Till a few years ago the gap was quite large but now things are changing. With companies like Flipkart going App only, things are getting very innovative.

Australia has a very tight knit community of digital marketers. They all know each other. They are very advanced and share what each one is doing. People there are sharing best practices very quickly and that is making them innovate much faster.

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