Adobe’s CMO Talks Data, Artificial Intelligence and the Future of the Cloud

Ann Lewnes unveils the latest rollouts

CMO Ann Lewnes discussed the new cloud. Adobe
Headshot of Marty Swant

At this week’s Adobe Summit in Las Vegas, the company rolled out a number of new products for the coming year, letting data and artificial intelligence play key roles in the future of how both companies and consumers interact with brands.

On Tuesday, Adobe introduced the Advertising Cloud as a way to let brands and agencies access Adobe’s data when buying media. The company also debuted an expanded partnership with Microsoft to share sales and marketing data and rolled out new capabilities for its Sensei artificial intelligence platform.

In an interview with Adweek, Adobe CMO Ann Lewnes talked about what these products mean for Adobe’s future and what she thinks brand are wanting more of in the coming year.

The following is a condensed transcript of the conversation, edited for clarity and brevity.

Adweek: What’s the theme of this year’s Summit and how it is it different than a year ago?
Ann Lewnes: The company has always been about experiences. And I think it was seven or eight years ago, we came up with a lofty tagline “Changing the World Through Digital Experiences.” At the time it seemed like total hyperbole and very tagline-y. But I think over the past seven years we’ve grown into it. There is a lot going on in the environment that is good for Adobe, everybody has become a creator. Every kid is a photographer or filmmaker [now], so the creative explosion certainly worked in our favor. We really found a way through Creative Cloud to make that much more accessible to a lot of people. We’ve grown that business tremendously.

"One of the things Adobe stands for is independence, and I think that is appealing for a lot of brands."
Ann Lewnes, CMO at Adobe

I think individuals have long expressed themselves. You go to YouTube, Instagram, Pinterest, and see people constantly interacting and posting work. But now enterprises are really trying to get a piece of that action. Because everyone is online, the expectation from a consumer standpoint is ‘You’re going to serve me in the way that I see fit.’ I think the consumer is kind of God right now and they’re the ones that should define what the experience looks like.

What are brands asking for most right now?
There is a baseline experience that brands are now delivering. They have a website, they have an app. I think the next step, if you’re a retailer, they want to be able to marry what they know about you from a physical location to a digital relationship that you have, and that’s hard right now. Companies are trying to bring all these different touch points into one profile of you.

The second area I think is this idea of what we call “content velocity,” and if you’re going to have a digital presence, it takes a remarkable amount of content to do that right. It’s the same with any brand. So I think content velocity is a huge problem and content synthesis is a huge problem that people are trying to solve.

Last year at Summit, you announced the data co-op. What’s the latest with that?
One of the key challenges that people have is identifying you across all these different touch points. So how do you do that in a way with a client, where you’re not in any way compromising other clients that might have that data? If you go into a co-op, the idea is your data is intermingled, but we’re able to really identify, based on other companies who have had a relationship with you, who you are from the different devices. We’ve seen a lot of interest in this, because it’s one of the pain points brands have had. How do I know Marty on his iPhone and his Samsung Galaxy and his MacBook? That’s what people want to do but in a way that preservers your privacy, doesn’t freak you out and is done in a way that is relevant.

Ann Lewnes
Courtesy: Adobe

@martyswant Marty Swant is a former technology staff writer for Adweek.