Adobe launched its social marketing offering (Adobe Social) in early September and last week my colleague Angela Ashenden and I got to take a closer look. It was a particularly relevant and timely briefing as we have both been researching the social analytics space a lot in recent months and this gave us the perfect opportunity to delve deeper and get an initial viewpoint on Adobe’s latest offering.
Adobe Social is not actually a single product but more of an umbrella name for a suite of capabilities designed to help digital marketers harness the value of social media as both a marketing channel and data source to help drive and improve marketing performance. Under the covers it packages up a range of different tools—some existing, some new—to offer digital marketers a more integrated and cohesive social marketing framework that can help them attract, acquire, engage, and optimise the business impact of social media. In particular it includes the following:
- Social analytics: This product was actually launched in early 2011 and has now been rolled into the Adobe Social offering. It provides capabilities for social media listening, analysis (including sentiment analysis from a Clarabridge OEM) and tools for correlating the impact of social with other tagged digital assets such as a corporate website.
- Social content and application creation and publication: Included as part of Adobe Social is a new visual application developer tool for creating content and applications that can be published to Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.
- Integration with Adobe’s Digital Marketing Suite: Quite wisely Adobe has improved the hooks between its social analytic capabilities and its core Digital Marketing Suite (DMS) to enable marketing organisations to connect social media activity to other digital marketing efforts. In particular Adobe Social now integrates with Site Catalyst, Test&Target, Adlens and Insight that individually provide support for web analytics, website optimisation, ad buying and optimisation and multi-channel campaign management respectively.
What’s interesting about this product launch is that Adobe is positioning social as an integrated part of a digital marketer’s toolset rather than a separate silo or channel—as is often the challenge within marketing departments. This means using social not only as a bi-directional marketing channel but also as a source of data that can help marketers measure and continuously improve performance. In our view there are many benefits to bringing social “in from the cold”, not least the ability for marketers to view their social data in the context of other marketing activity to get a deeper understanding of the business impact of social media on things such as website traffic and web purchases. Equally, having a more joined up view can allow marketers to understand more about what channels and content are the most effective across certain campaigns and use those learnings to adjust marketing tactics.
In this sense one of the biggest selling points of Adobe Social is its integration with DMS—links to social content, applications and posts can be tagged and tracked within the suite. For example, using Site Catalyst as part of Adobe Social, marketers can understand how social media is impacting online channels and how it stacks up against other forms of advertising. Similarly by integrating with Adlens, organisations can optimise their social advertising to amplify the reach of its content; by integrating with Test&Target marketers can get an understanding of a person’s social profile and online behaviour to deliver more personalised online experiences.
Although Adobe’s integrated social approach is to be commended there are, in our view, still areas that require work. Firstly we would like to see its visual application developer tool support a wider range of publishing platforms over and above Facebook, Google+ and Twitter. And similarly we believe support for Adobe Social’s moderation capabilities (i.e the ability to reach out and engage with social media contributors and influencers) needs to extend further than a company’s own Facebook, Google+ or Twitter page and instead support interactions regardless of the social networking source. This perhaps also underlines one of the main focus areas of Adobe Social in comparison with other social analytic tools. It’s primarily targeted at online demand generation activities such as advertising, app creation and content marketing and isn’t as focused on supporting engagement activities such as enabling users to initiate and automate customer responses based on social analytic insights.
Above all, the release of Adobe Social is part of the company’s efforts to build up a larger presence in the growing online marketing space. It started this journey in 2009 when it acquired Omniture for $1.8 billion but it has since snapped up Auditude and Efficient Frontier to help strengthen its social support and round out its digital marketing suite. That said, Adobe isn’t the only large vendor with an active social agenda; others such as Oracle, Google and Salesforce also recognise its potential value and have subsequently made their own own acquisitions. For example this year Oracle has acquired Collective Intellect, Virtue and Involver; Google has acquired Wildfire and Salesforce bought both Radian6 (in 2011) and BuddyMedia. Given this rampant market activity and momentum it looks like Adobe Social’s product release is well timed.
In addition as part of our analytics and collaboration research programs, we’ve produced a series of in-depth, independent reports that analyse the offerings of the leading social analytics tool providers. If you’re interested click here to find out more. Also click through to download a free Strategic Insight report: Optimising your social media investment using social analytics.