Adobe Summit 2013 Recap

This past week I had the unique opportunity to attend Adobe Summit as a part of the industry but not a part of the Adobe community (currently). In a prior life I worked as a web analytics manager for Adobe and attended Summit as an employee and active user of the Omniture suite, so attending this time with an outside-looking-in viewpoint was quite an experience.

Many things have changed since my time at Adobe, and many things remain constant. For me, one of the biggest changes is the push towards the Marketing Cloud (and an active effort to kill the Omniture brand). In many ways, I see the benefits of this type of front-end collaborative interface, but I do have my doubts and concerns.


  • Drag & drop flashy interfaces excite people: Marketers, stakeholders, etc will (hopefully) take more interest in campaign creation, execution, and data
  • Collaboration & Ease of Use: A single place to store/edit/access marketing creative, campaign management, and analytics and share between teammates, agencies, stakeholders, etc.
  • Auto-tagging: Auto-tagging is already a feature of the new Social product within Marketing Cloud, and a few tweets back and forth during the keynote told me that auto-tagging should also be an option via CQ for the rest of Marketing Cloud
  • Simplifies 23 products down to 5 clustered products: Hopefully this removes some confusion both in terms of product usage and pricing structure.


  • Drag & drop flashy interfaces excite people: My biggest concern here is around the analytics portion of Marketing Cloud. It was unclear from the keynotes and breakouts how much of the data would surface in the marketing cloud UI, how much was accessible via the individuals tools (SiteCatalyst, Discover) and whether or not marketing cloud was replacing some or all of the features of the tools we are so used to. That being said, follow up conversations with former colleagues have made it more clear that full functionality of SiteCat/Discover will still be available and the marketing cloud UI is more of a top layer/jumping off point to get into the more robust toolsets.
  • Collaboration: Again, my biggest concern is around the analytics portion of this, though the same issues could occur across other aspects of campaign creation. Too many hands in the cookie jar (or cooks in the kitchen, or too many chiefs, or irons in the fire…) leads to potential oversight when it comes to analytics tracking. Yes, there is auto-tag functionality. But that’s not good enough – it needs a human eye and analysis to ensure that the data comes across as consumable and actionable in the reporting UI.
  • Sacrificing deeper analysis for pretty front-end reports; I worry that the flashy front end will get all the attention, and that marketers will ignore the deeper level of data/analysis that comes from SiteCatalyst and Discover. They are both powerful tools which can lead to great insights. Don’t want to see the functionality wasted nor the analysis left out.
  • Auto-tagging – see my comments below in the Social 3.0 section for details around my concerns here.

The Last Milli-second

Brad Rencher talked a lot about the ‘Last Milli-second’ in his opening keynote. This is the idea that as customers we have come to expect access, availability, and speed, and that as marketers you have so little time to make an impact on a potential customer. Therefore the marketing efforts you put forth need to be easily accessible, available, and speedy.

Last millisecond key pillars:

  • Listen to signals consumers give us
  • Predict based on signals
  • Assemble
  • Deliver experience

Social 3.0

Adobe Social is near and dear to my heart, and I was both extremely impressed and a little surprised at the new look and feel that is being released as part of the Marketing Cloud.

What I liked:

  • Content calendar – schedule, edit, post, assign, moderate, approve, deny, etc social content via this social CMS. Most of this is net new to 3.0 and really helps bring the product up to competitive standards
  • Social Buzz report – this is essentially a nice pretty but functional dashboard showing key metrics (can be changed on the fly) for top mentions over time. Extrememly useful for real-time/super targeted analysis because the report can be run to a very granular time period (day:hour:min:second). The report also shows top tweets and percentage share of mentions (graphs) a little further down the page. You can also reply/post via moderation function in the social buzz report – nice feature for on the fly response when something comes up in the report
  • Auto-tagging of social content – as an analyst, I love this as a backup plan. It’s very reassuring to know that if my marketers are putting out social content without tagging, the world will not end and we can still attribute because Social 3.0 will auto-tag for us.

What I didn’t love:

  • Auto-tagging of social content – as an analyst, I want my tags to fall into the hierarchy and structure I’ve defined. While it’s great that at least the data won’t slip through the cracks, it gives marketers the safety blanket not to think about analytics and gives the analyst more of a headache when trying to decipher the auto-tagged data.
  • Taking the data/analysis out of SiteCatalyst. It appears that most of the reporting will be done through the marketing cloud interface. It’s pretty, but as an analyst I want to deep dive on my data quickly and in the tool that gives that flexibility. I worry that analysts/marketers will not go deeper due to the new top layer (Marketing Cloud).

Advanced Segmentation

Some of the most exciting things I heard at Summit came from the Advanced Discover session – Adobe has added a number of new features to their segment builder.

1. Defined segments can now be used within segment builder.

  • ex. Your business has a pre-defined segment of 18-35 year old users from the US who access your site via mobile. Now you want to build a segment looking at cart additions over $100 with the same additional criteria from your pre-defined segment. Rather than adding all of those rules to a new segment, you can simply add the segment into a visitor, visit, or page view container. Pretty awesome, especially with complicated segments you need to build off of.
  • These new super segments can be shared/pushed to SiteCatalyst & Test&Target. This is especially handy if you are making a super segment combing multiple predefined segments.

2. Segment builder now includes an option to choose “In the following order” so you can define a visit path via a segment –> sequencing

  • This allows us to slice and dice data based on not only a defined segment but now also in a defined sequence. This will be especially useful for determining sources of tops paths through sites and taking the noise out of cart analysis. You can also add in multiple segments and analyze sequentially – pretty awesome. (there are many other useful cases for this, please share any you may think of).

3.  Segment builder now includes time boundaries (per segment container).

  •  ex. Refine segment X to include only visits ‘within 3 days’ of action Z
  •  time boundaries can have start and end (start a week after visitor did this within 3 days)

4. Create a segment based on a funnel definition – define a fallout funnel, click create segment and segment can be created with fallout funnel criteria

  •  (this is tied with sequential segmentation as my favorite new features announced at Summit)

Order & time boundaries:









Create Segment from fallout funnel:










Sneaks are always a highlight of Summit. Seeing what is (possibly) coming next is exciting and interesting. Some of the sneaks shown definitely impressed me. One in particular, however, made my jaw drop (and not in a good way).

Here are my snippets on Sneaks:

Drag and drop an excel file with offline data into marketing cloud or right into SiteCatalyst. Also drag and drop into data sources to upload for full use in SiteCatalyst

Real time trends with drill-able data to show referring URLs by product etc

REGEX comes to Omniture

Video stream overview in experience manager
Analyze button shows where viewers stayed/persisted during the whole timeline of the video – video tapestry

Responsive design quick editor

Irrespective of CMS system – click on page to insert new content area

Social sentiment analysis, emotion based tweet clusters

Tool that shows influencers by name and how much revenue they provide to the business
Allows you to push promoted tweets out to specific targeted influencers based on click through, revenue, etc criteria

And the one that was really unsettling…

Connected visualizations (all respond to action from any one selection)
Pathing that now looks like GA data flow viz

It’s the pathing visualization that gets me. It looks like they just copied the Google Analytics data flow visualization. Which is my (and many others’) least favorite report in GA. It’s hard to follow, inflexible, and ugly. So why is Adobe copying it?!

Here’s a pic (unfortunately it’s blurry, but you can get the idea):









This is always my favorite part of any industry gathering or conference. And the networking at Adobe Summit is no exception – it’s hard to beat. 5,000 digital marketers in the same place for 3 days talking about marketing, digital, and analytics? Yes please. I had a couple of the best conversations I’ve had all year (and probably will have all year) with a few people I’ve known in the industry for a while and I also made several new connections that are sure to be both beneficial and fruitful for years to come – it’s truly an opportunity to make the most of!

All in all, a great Summit, great group of attendees, and great and inspiring content. See you again in 2014.

Here are “measure’s angels” courtesy of @adamgreco










Oh yah, almost forgot… The Black Keys played (yes, they were awesome, and yes, I was only about 10 feet away):










Leave a Reply


  1. Blair

    I was watching the Summit with interest, and came away with some similar thoughts. The new interfaces look pretty slick, but we’ll have to wait and see how much value they add in terms of improved campaign effectiveness. Great summary, though!

  2. Audrey

    Do you know when the new segment builder is expected to be released?

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