March 26, 2014

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Adobe Summit Draws Thousands of Digital Marketers

By Devin Felix

March 26, 2014

The 2014 Adobe Summit digital marketing conference is taking place this week at the Salt Palace. The annual event draws thousands of marketers, agencies, technologists and others from dozens of countries around the world. The conference has about 4,500 attendees this year, including about 1,300 from Utah.

Summit kicked off with a keynote yesterday morning that featured a variety of executives from Adobe and other organizations. Brad Rencher, Adobe’s general manager of digital marketing, led the event, which focused on the theme of reinventing marketing. Several more speakers took part, including other Adobe executives from Audi, Sephora, REI and Kickstarter.

Rencher asked attendees to imagine a world in which marketing had never existed until today and they were tasked to come up with the best ways to connect with customers. The systems they would create would focus on connecting with customers using all the tools available, Rencher said, and they wouldn’t be bogged down by the habits and methods that are still entrenched from the pre-digital age. “We’re laboring under some historical obligation to being backwards compatible with the decades of analog marketing that have come before,” he said.

This means organizations are too often divided into silos that are based on meaningless divisions. As new technologies have developed, companies have tended to simply assigned separate people to work with those technologies, leading to a lack of cohesion and an inability to respond to changing customer habits and desires at the rate now required for successful marketing.

Adobe CEO Shantanu Narayen addressed those changing habits and expectations. Consumers have come to expect that their needs will be met quickly and to have their attention captured. In a world where customers have endless choices, marketers need to provide a seamless experience, he said. “Our tolerance for bad experiences right now is extremely low and our expectations as consumers are incredibly high,” Narayan said.

These consumer expectations are driving companies to become what Narayan called “the real-time enterprise” — a system that operates based on customer data and which seamlessly integrates all platforms, devices and channels.

Narayen also emphasized that, even in an age of big data, marketing still needs great ideas. "To truly distinguish oneself among the noise still requires creativity,” he said. “Creative genius is still required."

The presentation concluded with Yancey Strickler, co-founder and CEO of Kickstarter. He described several of the projects that have been successfully carried out through the crowdsourcing site, including movies, civic projects, video games, inventions and others. Several films funded through kickstarter have been nominated for Academy Awards

Kickstarter is a community, Strickler said. Those who donate to projects are doing more than just buying something. They’re becoming involved in the process of its creation, and creators keep them involved with frequent updates during the development process. “It’s a true community,” he said. “It’s a community of people who are trying to shape the world into what they want it to be.”

Summit continues through Thursday.


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