Adobe Digital Marketing Summit 2012 – The Art and Science of the Digital Self

The 2012 Adobe Digital Marketing Summit was as big a production as ever as close to 5,000 digital analytics and marketing professionals descended on Salt Lake City and were welcomed with beautiful weather. The post-Summit survey question “in which city should we host next year’s Summit” gave me some pause; I sure hope that Adobe chooses to stick with the Silicon Slopes tradition and keeps Summit in Omniture’s birthplace! But enough of that, here is my recap of the event.

Key Themes from Omniture Summit 2012

The stated theme of this year’s Summit was “The Digital Self“. The 2-hour keynote interview between Adobe SVP Brad Rencher and other guests can be viewed on Adobe TV (warning: Brad and Shantanu are great guys, but they are decidedly not Josh James and Brett Error). I felt this year’s Summit was a lot more scientific than in years past, with a lot of discussion and buzz around predictive models, optimization and personalization in much more specific terms than in years past. Even the social media track took a decidedly action-oriented flavor, featuring breakouts like “Fans isn’t a business metric” (AMEN!) and “Personalization powered by Social Media”. I found that there were three key themes that kept occurring not only in the programmed content but also in the hallway conversations, meetings we had with clients before and after Summit and in the twit-o-blog-o-sphere. You’ll find that all three fit nicely within the “Digital Self” theme, which I think is really where we are in the Digital Analytics industry right now.

  1. 360-Degree View of the Customer
  2. Scientific Marketing (Predictive Analytics)
  3. Segmentation and Personalization

360-Degree View of the Customer

Yes, everything old is new again. I think vendors have been claiming to deliver the utopia of “360-Degree View” just about every time a new product is released and adds a handful of new fields to their database. Yet this year there was some real meat behind this 360-Degree concept. Technologies like Adobe Insight bring the ability to gather data about the customer from a nearly infinite number of sources – if it has a common User ID you can integrate it – and explore the data with on-the-fly segmentation and true user-level processing. Adobe acquired the technology through the Visual Sciences acquisition and it seems that the technology’s capabilities are becoming better understood as adoption reaches an inflection point. Prior to Insight, data integration was typically the domain of relational data warehouses, which quickly became very large and very cumbersome to query quickly, limiting the ability to drive actionable analysis from the data. Today, Insight joins other technologies such as Hadoop on the data storage/query side and Tableau on the visualization side to pioneer what I think will become a new generation of quick-twitch rapid data exploration tools. These new rapid data exploration tools will drive time to insight like we have never seen before.

On the data integration side there were breakouts discussing integrated digital data initiatives, audience segmentation using data from multiple data sources. From the customer behavior side, conversations around multichannel attribution demonstrated that marketers are truly ready to look at a user’s discovery-to-purchase cycle using a multiple faceted approach, versus the traditional “one-size-fits-all” single metric approach that tended to favor last touch attribution. As with data integration, the trend is toward looking at all aspects of the customer experience versus simply the conversion event or the clickthrough. I think these are tremendously positive and powerful themes and I find it all very exciting.

What you may have missed during the breakouts is the importance and difficulty of creating that unified Customer ID which we can use to tie in all of the data to create that 360-Degree view. This was clearly on customers’ minds as I heard it voiced by literally every client who discussed data integration with us!

Marketing Science

Wikipedia states that Marketing science is a field that approaches marketing – the understanding of customer needs, and the development of approaches by which they might be fulfilled – predominantly through the methods of science, rather than through tools and techniques common with research in the arts or in humanities.”

Remember this. Understand this. Looooove this!

I get a kick when thinking about Marketing Science, what it means and the roundabout path it has taken to get where we are today. Again, everything old is new again – in 1994 Harvard Business School Press published “The Marketing Information Revolution“, described as “A guide for marketing executives demonstrates how to take advantage of the vast amounts of information available today by using information technology to transform large quantities of data into usable information.” Almost 20 years later, here we are finally bringing all of this data together in an actionable way, basically rescuing the raw bytes from their Big Steel server prisons to perform nimble analysis, and applying the “science” of Marketing Science from academia and putting it into real action! It’s been a long time coming.

We already know about A/B and Multivariate Testing methods – we’ve been talking about this for several years now, and the techniques are now widely adopted and accepted. In fact, the philosophy of The Lean Startup is all about using testing and incremental improvement to build new products and services.

Now we are adding customer scoring (again, based on multiple behavioral, demographic, and other descriptive data points), forecasting and advanced attribution models to this mix.

Most interesting to me were the conversations around advanced attribution models. Previous approaches focused on the last click before conversion and allocating credit for sales to only a single advertising tactic. Again, much of this was due to the state of technology at the time. New approaches look at advertising influence, and understanding the role of an advertisement as an “attractor”, “helper” or “closer”. This is a multidimensional approach to marketing attribution and applies well to multi-channel campaigns. For a long time, I have advised clients to focus on the participation of an advertisement in the conversion process versus the myopic approach of assigning 100% credit for conversion to a single advertisement. One of the more popular breakout sessions focused on what Staples has done with multichannel attribution.

Segmentation and Personalization

Among the key product announcements was increased integration between the Adobe Marketing Suite and CQ5.5. Specifically, these integrations included:

These integrations improve the technical landscape for personalizing content to customers based on analytic data.

Best practices for segmentation and personalization were discussed as well. For example, one of the ideas which I am very excited about is personalization based on a customer’s social media profiles. Talk about actionable! With social media, the customer is telling the world about their interests and attitudes. We can target keywords based on a customer’s tweets or Facebook posts and customize the content based on what they are saying. For all of the challenges associated with text parsing, linguistics and sentiment analysis, this is one where targeting even at a very low degree of confidence could be a real needle-mover.

Along with the general how-to themes for segmentation and personalization, Mobile was also a frequent topic. The emphasis on personalization and optimization in the mobile space further demonstrates how the conversation is maturing. We are finally moving past “we gotta do mobile” and into “here is specifically how we create mobile experiences that engage and convert customers.”

In Summary

In summary, I found this year’s Adobe Marketing Summit to be meatier than in years past, and I think this has as much to do with the industry’ s maturity as it does with Adobe’s leadership position in digital analytics and marketing. The stated theme of “The Power of the Digital Self” was complimented by the actual discussion topics of the 360-Degree View of the customer, marketing science, segmentation and personalization. The topics and themes were very relevant to what I hear when talking with clients on a daily basis. There were the typical big product announcements and the event’s production value was top notch as always. I came home even more excited about the state of the industry than I was about Adobe’s product offerings. I find myself looking forward to next year’s Summit and tremendously excited about what the next 12-18 months holds for the Digital Analytics industry.


Thoughts on the Strata Conference and the State of Big Data

Chad Richeson, @chadricheson  |  CEO Society Consulting

The Strata Big Data Conference in Silicon Valley is wrapping up today.  Strata is in its second year and is a premier conference on Big Data, Analytics, and Hadoop.

After mingling with a couple of thousand practitioners, business owners, and salespeople, I felt enthusiastic about where things are headed, but still a bit underwhelmed by how Big Data is being applied to real business situations.  I want to share my thoughts on both.

3 things that got me pumped up at Strata:

  1. Hadoop has become the standard.  For large-scale data crunching, many software vendors, include Microsoft, have standardized on Hadoop as core to their Big Data offering (props to John “JG” Chirapurath & the Microsoft team for having such great vision).  Having Microsoft and so many vendors and practitioners standardizing on one technology will help it develop faster, will lead to standardization in related technologies, and will result in a lot more people having the skills to use it.
  2. ‘Agile’ and ‘Predictive’ are the hottest adjectives in Big Data.  I preached Agility in my recent article on Business Success with Big Data, and talked about how great data systems need to change as fast as the business they are driving.  Equally important is the concept of prediction, which (with a few exceptions) is the reason we do Big Data analytics.  It’s critical to keep our analytics efforts focused on the actions that will be taken, i.e. what do our customers want next, and what should we do next?  More and better signal increases predictive power, making prediction the killer app of Big Data.
  3. Datamarkets are taking shape.  Microsoft has the Azure datamarket, InfoChimps has a popular service, Pachube is focusing on sensor data, and DataSift is focusing on Social data.  Having data sets & feeds centralized in one place enables us data geeks to spend more time creating cool mashups & analytics, and less time acquiring and prepping data.

Despite the cool things happening on the technology side, there are a few things I see happening that could use some improvement:

  1. Hiring Data Scientists Without a Plan.  Many companies are clamoring for data scientists, but hiring great data scientists is only effective if a company has a clear plan to address the insights they produce.  For example, a Data Scientist can create models that predicts churn at the customer level, but many businesses lack the systems & processes to communicate or take other action at that level in a timely manner.  Without corresponding execution capabilities, data science outputs will be vastly underutilized.  Data science is a sophisticated form of analytics, and is most effective for companies that have equal sophistication in systems, processes, and management.
  2. BI Is Still in Transition.  Most people still think of Analytics or Business Intelligence solely as a function or department at a company, which is definitely an improvement versus 10 years ago.  While I am a proponent of having centralized systems & analytics resources, I think companies should go further and treat data as a key business input – on par with labor and materials — with analytics being something everyone uses & manages.  This transition will happen over time, but I don’t think companies will see high returns on their data investment until they make this transition in their mindsets, skills, and organization.
  3. The Real Opportunity is in the Sharing.  There is still very little talk about and innovation around cross-enterprise data partnerships.  These partnerships will be very valuable because consumers do business with multiple enterprises every day, and those enterprises that are smart enough to team up and make the consumer experience better by leveraging each others’ data in a timely way will significantly outperform their competitors

All in all a solid conference and something I expect to become a fixture of the Big Data Era.  I’m already looking forward to the next installment of Strata in the Fall, and the amount of innovation that will occur between now and then.

Have you noticed the remodel?

We’ve remodeled our blog! Announced last week, Pentad Solutions will rebrand as Society Consulting. The official change takes effect January 1, 2012, however, we wanted to give all of our friends a head start on warming up to our new look! What do you think?

For more information on our rebrand:

Society Consulting also has a new home! Now located in the heart of downtown Bellevue. Check it out.

901 104th Avenue NE, Suite 200, Bellevue, WA 98004

Happy New Year! Our team is looking forward to 2012. New brand, new digs, new beginning!


New Brand. New Beginning.

Yes, we’re at it again… changing the name of the company. What started as the JobMob three years ago, became Pentad Solutions, and for the last time we’re changing our name to Society Consulting.  Third time’s the charm, right?

We like to think so.

This was a pretty big decision for us. We went into this knowing a couple of things: 1) we have some brand equity in the Pentad name, but 2) the name wouldn’t carry us far enough. We needed something… well, better. We needed a name that matches our ambitions. Changing would be risky, but easier to do while we’re still relatively small.

In early October we made the decision to change the name. At first we tried to pick a new name ourselves, but we quickly figured out it’s not our strong suit. So we hired a professional – a firm called Stoke Strategy. Stoke spent some time learning who we were, and then brought back about 20 names. Getting this right was critical, as our name would convey our overall company identity: what we stand for, and what we want to be known for.

After about a week of deliberation, we decided on a name that perfectly described who we are – a group of people coming together for a common purpose, also known as a “Society”.

Once we had the name locked, we turned our attention to picking a logo, typeface, and color scheme – key parts of what the designers call the “visual system.” This process was pretty exciting, and we hired a great firm called Turnstyle to help us out. Turnstyle came up with some exceptional visuals to bring Society out in a really unique way.  We wanted our brand to be bold, but also let our personality and our mission shine through.

Turnstyle focused on three elements to help us do this:

1 – The Typeface.  We wanted something smooth and modern, yet strong. We picked a font in the ProximaNova family – lowercase, but still plenty bold.

2 – The Color Scheme.  We wanted our colors to be resilient, but not be too harsh or overbearing on the eye.  We also wanted to preserve the silver from our previous logo, as sort of a tribute to Pentad Solutions.  To the silver we added a primary yellow and a darker complementary yellow. All of which, when placed together, create our desired combination.

3 – The Logo.  Our team was anxious to see how Turnstyle would represent Society within a logo; a visual that has ideal potential for successful brand recognition. Much like the process of choosing our name, we had a few different styles to choose from.

We ended up drooling over the image of a “tangram” – a puzzle that can transform into different shapes. The transformation aspect conveys the type of power Society brings to its clients; putting all the accurate ingredients together to execute a masterpiece. And, obviously, we were particularly fond of the “S” shape it is arranged in. It’s a vital organization that creates personalization to our company.

Then, voila! Put it all together, and you get Society Consulting’s new logo.

We’re proud of what we came up with – with all due credit to Stoke and Turnstyle of course.  We wanted our logo to be different, and have deeper meaning that we can draw out for both clients and employees.  For clients, we want to convey the strength of our people, and our power to transform a business.  For employees, we want to convey a people-centered culture that is pursuing greatness as a team.  Society Consulting aims to be equally great at technology & data, by building great teams and doing stellar work for its clients.  We hope you enjoy watching us pursue these goals.

So we say “so long” to Pentad and “hello” to Society Consulting, which will take effect as of January 1, 2012.

It’s been real, but it’s time to move forward.

If you have feedback on the new brand, send me feedback directly.  And don’t forget to use my new address:

A fix for Adobe Insight screen alignment in Windows 7

One of the more common Adobe Insight issues that I have been hearing about is the screen alignment in Windows 7 when using the Aero desktop. When Insight is maximized, you get a strange bar at the top of the screen and mouse clicks don’t align with where the pointer is on the screen. The issue is caused by Windows 7’s Aero desktop (with the translucent taskbar).

If you find yourself having this problem, there is a very easy solution. Create a desktop shortcut that automatically sets your screen to “Windows 7 Basic” mode. This shortcut will also put your screen back into Aero mode when you are finished using Insight. It’s super simple to do!

  1. Create a desktop shortcut to your Insight Client
  2. Right-click the new shortcut and select Properties
  3. Choose the Compatibility tab in the Shortcut Properties Dialog Box
  4. Check the “Disable desktop composition” box
  5. Choose OK to apply the new settings and close the dialog box

For the more visually-oriented, here is  a screenshot that shows the settings. I hope this makes you a happier and more productive Insight user!

Practical Google Analytics Workshop

Written by | Aaron Fossum

I am excited to be presenting a 1-hour Google Analytics workshop with Heinz Marketing in Redmond on Thursday, October 27.

The workshop is geared toward marketing managers and analysts and we will be focusing on quick-win things you can do to optimize your website. There is some interest in holding a webinar on this topic – contact us if you would like to be notified when we offer this workshop online.

You can register now for the “Practical Google Analytics Workshop” at

This workshop is unique in that we will be covering the WHAT and WHY of analytics more than the how. This will be a very pragmatic session emphasizing what you can do now to improve your Internet marketing results using Google Analytics.

In geekier detail, we will be covering:

•Making the most of campaign tracking

•Conversion tracking with goals

•Segmentation with advanced segments

•Managing Google Analytics profiles for data quality

•Other intermediate topics

None of these techniques or best practices will require any changes to your Google Analytics code, meaning that you can take what you learn in the morning and apply it that afternoon…which is why I am so excited to share this with you! Space is limited to 50 seats, so reserve now. There has been some interest in a webinar so look forward to hearing more on this as well.

I look forward to seeing you!

Channel Your Inner Creative to Conquer the Work Day

Written by | Sean Norman

For many people a job is something that they go to out of routine and necessity each day. Poor habits begin to develop and after a while the excitement from when you first started begins to fade. To keep excitement high, your mind fresh, and to add immense value every day at work – you need to be inspired. Here are 5 ways you can channel your inner creative to not only be more effective but have a more enjoyable work day:

1. Inform yourself about something new

Take to the web and read a story or watch a video about a new business, idea, or person that excites your mind. The best examples of these are the TED Talks ( where the sole purpose is to share ideas from speakers that are worth spreading.

2. Browse Abduzeedo’s Daily Inspiration

Fabio Sasso, a Brazilian designer who is currently a Sr. Designer at Google, runs Every day a compilation page of art in various forms of media is shared and labeled “Daily Inspiration.” This series of posts showcases talent from around the world and some occasional user submitted pieces. Browsing this page can act as a visual escape.

3. Read one news story about a startup in your industry

It’s always good to know what’s going on in the industry that you work in but more importantly disruption can spark ideas. Perhaps someone has started a new business or disrupted your market in a way never before imagined. Hearing about other’s ideas can ignite your own around the work place. For disruptive tech news visit TechCrunch ( TechCrunch covers both innovation and technology across multiple industries.

4. Read & participate in a discussion within a professional community

There are groups and professional organizations represented on LinkedIn where professionals are participating in discussion. Be a part of it. Help someone else out or ask a question of others if for nothing else just to hear how your peers might tackle a problem. Other sites to participate on include Quora and StackOverflow (technical questions for developers).

5. Develop yourself professionally

Bēhance hosts a site,, that contains groupings of articles around various topics related to one’s professional career. Topics include leadership, motivation, execution, passion, risk, discipline, and many more. In short, it is a site dedicated to the culture of ideas and making them happen.

At a minimum set aside 30 minutes each morning to engage in one of these areas listed above. If you feel ambitious, set out to do each of these every day and explore other areas, sites, publications on your own. Feel free to share what you find works for you and comment on this post.

About the author: Sean Norman is a Marketing Consultant at Pentad Solutions.