Adobe touts advert transparency and programmatic maturity

Adobe has launched a new global advertising campaign, which it claims to be the largest cross-channel media campaign facilitated 100% through programmatic ad buying. Adobe, like other technology firms that are hoping to leverage their data and analytics assets in the advertising world, is angling to make a profit in a market that’s already filled to the brim with thousands of solutions providers, each with little differentiation.

The new ad campaign, which has about 10 global brand advertisers participating, amounts to a splashy way for Adobe to show off the power of its cross-channel “Adobe Experience Cloud” advertising platform and analytics – including its award winning AI – and its programmatic chops. The fact that the campaign is being distributed 100% programmatically is itself a message Adobe wants to convince brands of: automated, data-driven buying has reached maturity.

Just about a year ago, Adobe acquired video demand side platform (DSP) TubeMogul for $540 million. Around the same time, Adobe announced Sensei, a set of AI-driven “intelligence services” as Adobe calls them, which use data insights to optimize digital experiences across its cloud offerings. For marketing and advertising, that includes things like audience segmentation, personalization and attribution.

The TubeMogul acquisition, along with Adobe’s other advertising solutions, are pieces of Adobe’s ambition to become a one-stop shop for marketers and brands that are navigating the increasingly complex and lucrative world of digital and TV advertising. Adobe estimates more than $570 billion per year is spent globally across traditional and digital advertising channels.

“We are bridging longstanding media gaps – not just between TV and digital, but also between brand and performance advertising,” the company’s Brett Wilson declared at the product announcement.

That vision came to fruition earlier this year, when the company unveiled its Advertising Cloud product, an end-to-end software product aimed at simplifying media planning and buying across traditional TV and digital, which Adobe developed in hopes of better competing against the larger ad-tech companies for some of the ever-growing digital advertising pie.

To that end, Adobe has rolled up its Advertising Cloud offering with its marketing cloud service and its analytics cloud offering into what it calls the “Experience Cloud.” That includes its premium publisher marketplace, its DSP and its cross-screen planner to execute media buys across desktop, video, mobile, display, CTV (connected TV), addressable TV, out of home digital, digital audio and paid social.

Adobe is now essentially using its Experience Cloud to create and manage an ad campaign showcasing the power of its Experience Cloud. And Adobe seems confident that its offering will blow the socks off C-suite executives which the ad campaign promises to target. In early tests of the platform. Adobe bragged the campaigns it managed saw match rates of over 90%, which is quite unusual and if accurate, highly effective in the space.

The part that’s an industry-first, according to Adobe, is that it plans to manage all of the media buying programmatically – in other words with some form of automation built in. The buying itself includes real-time bidding (RTB) and direct buys. “We’re using this all-programmatic approach because we can now effectively target this audience by analyzing their behaviors and actions online to deliver a more relevant, personalized experience across every touchpoint,” said Alex Amado, VP of experience marketing at Adobe.

While there are now plenty of similar offerings in the marketplace, Adobe is hoping to convince prospective customers that its advertising solutions are refreshingly transparent in an ecosystem dominated by ad technology “black boxes” which has left marketers uncertain about both where their money is being spent, and where their ads are surfacing.

Last month, Adobe announced it had struck deals with 15 of its ad tech partners to disclose all the fees they charge marketers and publishers for using their software, including the likes of Oath, Pubmatic, The Rubicon Project, Index Exchange, Triple Lift and SpotX. Adobe has taken a strong stance on this issue in hopes of attracting more business: the company has said that if a partner refuses to comply, Adobe will not work with them.

The industry’s recent bout of brand safety concerns makes Adobe’s message particularly apt. The company is promising clients “detailed visual reporting” to help them track where the ad dollars are going, and where their ads are being placed. These moves come at a time when brands are becoming increasingly frustrated with the opacity of digital advertising, and the at times unclear return on those dollars spent – as summed up by P&G CMO Marc Pritchard’s now famous IAB address at the start of 2017, in which he said, “The days of giving digital a pass are over. It’s time to grow up. It’s time for action. We realize there is no sustainable advantage in a complicated, nontransparent, inefficient and fraudulent media supply chain.”Adobe is doing all it can to assure prospective clients it’ll be as transparent as possible.

But perhaps the biggest advantage Adobe has over its competitors in this space, and over the likes of Google and Facebook, is that Adobe has more mature relationships with some of the top premium video providers through other parts of its business. Those providers include Fox, Comcast NBCUniversal, Time Warner, and even Dish Network. For brands and marketers that have grown weary of what Google and Facebook offers, Adobe could offer an enticing alternative.