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March, 2024

Adobe layers gen AI deeper into content supply chain, eyes Office productivity with Microsoft Copilot and marketing integration as Pfizer touts massive content production gains – targets $1bn AI upside

What you need to know:

  • Adobe unleashed a slew of native generative AI capabilities across its Adobe Experience Cloud suite as it bids to bring gen AI closer to marketers through the platforms and tools they’re already using across everyday campaigns, customer journeys, and content management. 
  • Like other martech vendors, Adobe emphasises better data utilisation and integration and this week also revealed new abilities for first-party data sharing between brands and publishers, as well as the ability to bring in enterprise data sets to use in customer journey management without the need to bring them into the platform. 
  • It isn’t just marketing tools either; Adobe and Microsoft have also extended a six-year strategy partnership and will work to bring Adobe’s marketing tools and Microsoft’s CRM and Office suite together through Microsoft’s Copilot AI assistant solution. 
  • As part of first day presentations, Pfizer outlined how overhauling its content supply chain using Adobe’s product suite is helping to cut content review cycle times by 50 per cent across 3,800 marketers in 80 countries as well as create content 75 per cent faster than pre-AI and Adobe tools.

We set an ambitious goal to create five times more content with half the effort at a lower cost by reinventing our content supply chain. The time is now – we have over a dozen new websites planned for 2024, as well as integrated marketing campaigns across online and offline media. AEM now serves as our single repository, giving visibility to all our valuable content, while Workfront allows us to collaborate with our creative agencies to track progress down to individual pieces of content. Our marketers can now, on their own, create brand-safe patient and physician materials faster than ever.

Lidia Fonseca, Chief Digital and Technology Officer, Pfizer

Bringing AI out of the playground and into brand-safe, practical marketing production was the overarching message advanced by Adobe at this year’s summit as the vendor released a swathe of native AI capabilities and tools across its Digital Experience suite. 

It’s been a year since Adobe made its first foray into generative AI with Firefly, a family of creative AI models for text and image asset production. It’s come a long way along the path to practical AI application since then, embedding an array of AI integrations and tools across its martech stack and content supply chain approach. 

Augmenting this product narrative and among the Adobe execs on the keynote stage was Pfizer, one the largest and fastest rollouts of Adobe’s Experience Cloud offering including Adobe Experience Manager (AEM), Workfront workflow management, and Firefly. Having deployed Adobe’s and its AI capabilities in order to overhaul how its content supply chain operates, the health company’s chief digital and technology officer, Lidia Fonseca, it had already reduced content review cycle times by 50 per cent in the first six months, helping 3,800 of its marketers across 80 countries create content 75 per cent faster. 

Pfizer is the first customer to also fully scale Adobe’s new AI-powered, document-based authoring capabilities for marketers to directly update websites. This capability helped the brand create its ‘Outdo Cancer’ website in under three weeks, unveiled in Pfizer’s 2024 first-ever Super Bowl ad. The digital experience chalked up more than 1bn impressions and 4m visitors to the website within a week of the football tournament. 

“We set an ambitious goal to create five times more content with half the effort at a lower cost by reinventing our content supply chain,” Fonseca told attendees. Pfizer is seeing up to $1 billion in value off the back of its broader AI play. 

“The time is now – we have over a dozen new websites planned for 2024, as well as integrated marketing campaigns across online and offline media,” Fonseca said. “AEM now serves as our single repository, giving visibility of all our valuable content, while Workfront allows us to collaborate with our creative agencies to track progress down to individual pieces of content. Our marketers can now, on their own, create brand-safe patient and physician materials faster than ever.”

Adobe’s latest AI product use cases

As Adobe president, Shantanu Narayan put it to attendees, gen AI needs to be embedded into everyday tasks if it’s to move from shiny new toy to become part and parcel of how marketers work.

“When we think about the magic and value of AI, we know it only comes from the seamless integration of workflows all of you as customers know and love. So we are integrating Firefly across Creative Cloud, Document Cloud, and Experience Cloud applications and we have been thrilled with customer adoption and excitement, with over 6.5bn generations since our launch,” he said. 

Leading the list of gen AI product enhancements this year is generative AI-first application, Adobe GenStudio, which overlays Firefly AI models. The solution can be used for workflow and planning campaigns, creating content and production, asset management, delivery and activating content and campaigns across digital channels, and then insights and reporting. Having made several pushes towards improving productivity across the content supply chain in 2023, this is an evolution and consolidation of the vendor’s play in this area. 

And it comes with brand safety and design guidelines built in, something Adobe has strived to take a lead on in a world of open AI models and increasingly high-profile AI image gaffes – the Duchess of Cambridge’s Kate Middleton’s efforts being the highest profile example. For instance, Firefly now offers ‘Custom Models’ allowing users to train the AI on their own branded assets, and ‘Services’, a collection of generating and editing APIs that can be embedded in workflows to personalise and create variations of assets within minutes. One year since first being unveiled, Adobe said 6.5 billion images have been created using Firefly gen AI.

Connecting GenStudio and AEM is a new assets content hub for distributing brand assets across an organisation and to partners and agencies. AI is also powering AEM Sites variant generation so brands can take one marketing asset and automate the creation of thousands of copy variations to personalise against target personas and customers. 

Across the broader Adobe Experience Cloud and Adobe Creative Cloud environments, the most notable AI improvement is the Adobe Experience Platform (AEP) AI Assistant. The conversational interface acts as an agent alongside marketers as they automate tasks and put together audiences and journeys across applications. Examples of how to tap the assistant include asking it to uncover high-performing customer segments or those more likely to respond to a promotional offer, querying materials, or for technical support. 

Reporting and attribution haven’t missed out on an AI dose either. In Adobe Content Analytics, AI has been embedded so users creating content can measure down to an attribute level. 

During press briefings, Adobe global CMO for Digital Experience, Eric Hall, described the enhancements made possible through gen AI Adobe has been working to build from the ground-up as “democratised use of sophisticated tools”. These benefit from a mix of large language models (LLM), custom brand models, and Adobe’s base platform, Sensei, first released in 2016. Hall claimed the AI automated copy variants alone in AEM could deliver 4x improvements to productivity. 

Hall noted many other tech companies are working to put AI assistance directly into their platforms. “The key for us in Digital Experience is serving the marketing community as our big set of constituents,” he said. “We want to ensure they have the best possible attack, and that means putting gen AI right into apps for them, as well as building a few things that are AI-first.”

Personalisation at scale – really this time

It’s 15 years since Adobe first touted its vision to create a single marketing stack for customer engagement and marketing management. 

“Over the years we have expanded on this vision by connecting all the dots across the customer experience value chain,” Narayen told attendees at this year’s summit. “We believe customer experience management is set to again be transformed in this era of artificial intelligence. 

“But what’s constant is that content, data, and journey remain at the core of how you engage with customers. Our greatest opportunity with AI is to actually personalise that digital experience to the exact individual, rather than a segment or cohort we’re engaged with.” 

Narayan saw more brands striking partnerships thanks to AI, linking supply chains and identifying new business value to “surprise as well as build loyalty across brands”. 

“AI will allow us to automate and scale resource-intensive processes to drive significant efficiencies,” he said. “It will raise the bar on establishing and maintaining trust… AI will empower all businesses to rethink their customer engagement platforms that have vexed us for decades, and to tackle them in more efficient ways.”

Adobe’s gen AI approach, coupled with an ecosystem approach to partnerships, was positioned by Narayen as an integration of data, models, and applications critical to getting to the Holy Grail of personalisation at scale. 

“Exponential value will come from how successfully we integrate into our daily tasks and workforce,” he continued. “AI is accelerating ideation, exploration, insights, end-to-end production plus delivery of all of these productivity gains. This is about giving you the confidence to go from gen AI experimentation to value realisation.”

Giving marketers more enterprise data sets

None of this is truly realised unless you get enough of the right data of course. Every martech vendor is looking to improve its position around data management and activation, and Adobe is no different. One of the major data-oriented announcements this year is ‘Federated Audience Composition’ allowing data residing in enterprise warehouses such as AWS RedShift, Snowflake, and Azure Synapse, to be tapped and activated in various customer experience workflows and journeys without having to copy data into Adobe’s platforms. 

“Moving data around the enterprise costs money and time. We have heard over and over again the question of whether there is a better way,” said Adobe senior VP of products, Amit Ahuja. “Federated Audience Composition means you can leave enterprise data where it is, in any data warehouse, and query it directly from AEP.”

As a further step towards removing industry reliance on third-party cookies, data sharing, and activation capability through Real-Time CDP is also expanding so brands can connect their first-party data audiences with a publisher’s. Adobe’s first partner/customer is NBCUniversal, which will allow brands to access its own first-party audience data and campaign delivery insights, then use these to activate marketing campaigns the media entertainment company’s digital properties.

“How do you do acquisition with first-party data in a privacy-safe way and track that? We had already taken steps with our RT CDP with third-party integration partners and by bringing stable ID at the core,” Ahuja said. “Real CDP Collaboration brings first-party data and allow brands and publishers to activate data safely.” 

Again, Adobe is touting any data source as eligible here, including Snowflake, AWS, Databricks, and Google, and said identity partners including Acxiom, Merkle, Experian, LiveRamp and Unified ID 2.0 are ready to help marketers scale audiences through the new Real-Time CDP capability.

Customer journey management

Dynamic and real-time optimisation of customer journeys is a further focal point, and Adobe highlighted enhancements for real-time experimentation using AI in AEP plus Journey Optimiser Unified Experimentation, including statistical models embedding experimentation and decisioning capabilities in journeys. Unified experimentation was another update to enable more contextual and dynamic cross-channel journeys. This is achieved by increasing the volume of tests users can do across content, channels and audiences through machine learning models and centralised administration to push winners and resolve conflicts. 

Adobe is additionally bringing together brand-initiated and customer-initiated interactions within journey planning in real-time to better inform journey programs and triggers across digital channels. 

B2B hasn’t missed out either. Years after acquiring B2B marketing automation vendor, Marketo, Adobe has finally extended Journey Optimizer into a B2B Edition to better connect the dots across buying groups within a customer account and bring forth a full-funnel approach.

“We have a great base of Marketo customers using Marketo for lead management and marketing automation. B2B Edition gives them the capability to manage buying groups in a customer account; while teams can orchestrate cross-channel experiences including Marketo Engage Dynamic Chat powered by gen AI,” Hall said. “We’re investing heavily to put AI right into the applications marketers use, and into the workflows to allow people to be more productive today.”

We believe customer experience management is set to again be transformed in this era of artificial intelligence. But what’s constant is that content, data and journey remain at the core of how you engage with customers. Our greatest opportunity with AI is to actually personalise that digital experience to the exact individual, rather than a segment or cohort we’re engaged with.

Shantanu Narayen, President, Adobe

Microsoft Copilot partnership

Arguably more significant in years to come is how Adobe works with other vendors in the broader enterprise stack. This year sees an extension of Adobe’s six-year strategic partnerships with Microsoft into new product collaboration frontiers driven by AI. 

Adobe confirmed it’s working with Microsoft to bring together Adobe Experience Cloud workflows and insights into Microsoft’s Copilot for Microsoft 365 to further break down application silos. This is expected to bring marketing insights and workflows and Microsoft Dynamics CRM into the Microsoft Copilot, assisting marketers as they work in Outlook, Teams and Word to develop creative briefs, create content and manage content approvals. 

At least one technology analyst speaking to Mi3 at Adobe Summit was excited by the integration with Microsoft, noting its practicality given the wide use of Office tools by marketers. According to a recent Microsoft survey, 43 per cent of marketing and communications professionals report having to switch between digital programs and applications is disruptive to creativity. 

The first focus of the partnership is on marketers working with multiple internal and external teams while managing campaign goals, status, and actions. Marketing insights from Adobe and Dynamics will be available in Copilot for Microsoft 365 to create briefs, presentations for reviews, reports and updates. Adobe Experience Manager Sites are also integrated with Copilot so marketers can create imagery with Firefly or copy for marketing experiences in Word and publish in Web and mobile channels. In addition, integrated capabilities informed by Adobe Workfront (a product acquired by Adobe in 2022) are being introduced to avoid app, email and chat swapping to compile project status reports. 

Size and scope of Adobe’s customer base

All this comes as Adobe continues to build revenue and interactions across its Digital Experience platform. Adobe Digital Experience Business president, Anil Chakravarthy, said 40 petabytes of data has been processed in Adobe Experience Platform, with 5 billion edge interactions undertaken in real time on a daily basis, as well as 17 trillion segment evaluations under 100 milliseconds.

Adobe now has 11,000 customers globally for Adobe Experience Cloud. And first quarter results to 1 March 24 continue to show growth. Adobe reported revenue of US $5.18 billion, representing 11 per cent year-over-year gains. The Digital Experience segment revenue was $1.29bn, representing 10 per cent year-over-year growth, while Digital Experience subscription revenue hit $1.16bn, up 12 per cent year-over-year growth.