Adobe Doubles Down on Marketing Analytics

adobe headquarters
Adobe Systems world headquarters in downtown San Jose, California
Photograph by Lisa Werner—Moment Editorial/Getty Images

Adobe (ADBE) is following up a record quarter with an ambitious data-sharing initiative being introduced on Tuesday at its annual customer conference.

The effort, dubbed the Adobe Marketing Cloud Device Co-op, is one of several ways the software maker plans to use sophisticated marketing analytics to distinguish its strategy from those of big rivals, such as Oracle (ORCL) and Salesforce (CRM).

The co-op addresses a central dilemma associated with digital marketing: how to correlate data gathered from the multiple “touch points” where a consumer might see a brand’s advertising or marketing offers. It should also make it simpler for corporate marketers to honor consumer opt-out requests, for the same reason.

Right now, this information is usually managed separately.

Considering those metrics in aggregate is still a notoriously complicated process that few companies—with the exception of Internet giants Facebook and Google—have been able to pull off really well, says Jules Polonetsky, CEO of the Future of Privacy Forum, an industry coalition representing chief privacy officers, academics, and policy makers.

“Today, access to data has been for better or worse democratized,” he explains. “The big challenge is cross-device tracking. Everyone has been forced to kludge together awkward interpretations of this.”

Here’s how the program will work. Companies and agencies that join the co-op will be asked to share special encrypted log-in data with Adobe, which can be used to identify specific households or individuals but that masks personal information such as email addresses, names, and phone numbers. In exchange for contributing that information, they’ll receive metrics that improve their own insights.

“The more information in the co-op, the better it will be,” posits Jeremy Helfand, vice president of video solutions for Adobe. Based on the company’s initial calculations, Adobe should be able to link up with approximately 1.2 billion devices by using this information, he cites. The company hasn’t revealed the names of any co-op members.

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IDC analyst Melissa Webster concurs that few other companies have the scale—or consumer credibility—to pull off what Adobe is trying to achieve. “This makes Adobe’s products much smarter,” she says. “Better data is really the theme.”

Aside from the co-op, Adobe has forged a tighter alliance with television and online ratings company comScore. Here, too, the goal is to improve viewing activity across a variety of screens and devices, providing Adobe with even more data to use for its marketing analytics services. “This partnership with Adobe helps us to deliver even more precise insights to our clients about how, when and where consumers are interacting with content and ads,” said comScore CEO Serge Matta, in a statement.

Adobe will make its pitch for the new services, as well as other updates to Marketing Cloud and new services for mobile app developers, this week during its gathering of more than 10,000 marketing professionals in Las Vegas.

The group, which is a key component of the company’s expansion into cloud services, generated more than $1.36 billion in revenue for the last fiscal year. An estimated two-thirds of the Fortune 50 use at least one of Adobe’s marketing applications. Adobe’s momentum in this space is accelerating. During its first quarter ended March 4, sales for these products grew 21% to a record $377 million in revenue.

Adobe began pushing hard into digital marketing services with the 2009 acquisition of Omniture, which gave it an early leg-up in marketing data. Its biggest competitors in this space include Google (GOOG), IBM (IBM), Oracle, and Salesforce.

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