In my last post, I detailed the importance of observation, one of the practices supporting associative thinking as described in an important book titled The Innovator’s DNA. This post features a casual case study that explains how my team at Adobe was able to organize and prioritize digital testing in a brave, new, digital marketing world.

The Innovator’s DNA quotes New York Times writer Peter Leschak, noting that we are all “watchers,” sprinkled with but a handful of “observers.” Because my team acted as engaged observers of our customers, our competitors, and ourselves, we were able to create a systematic testing framework that helped our company gain an important edge.

Casual Case Study: Adobe Digital Marketing Optimization Framework

Ten years ago, the virtual marketplace was in its infancy. Marketing teams put together the first advertisements, videos, banners, and webpages, encouraging customers to shop, learn, engage, and communicate online.

As online marketing increased, it became clear to managers that we all needed a new way to measure the impacts of our efforts. Never mind that frameworks for classified A/B testing were designed as early as the 1890s by a man named Albert Lasker. This high tech environment was demanding chic new tools to measure performance.

My team saw that a need for website testing was not being served but was unsure how to approach a solution. We needed to embrace a testing framework allowing strategic prioritization worthy of a broad range of business objectives. We started by observing. We looked at our customers, at our competitors, and at ourselves, thoughtfully creating a rough initial framework.

We dissected the website, deciding to slice the pie into four equal pieces: layout, content, creative, and functionality. It was basically four big buckets of virtual information, categorized but not really organized, and certainly not prioritized.


The more we observed, the more organized we became and the easier it was to prioritize. We progressed to a model that gave each category its own separate sphere. With sphere size representing the relative resource time required, we weighed test volume against conversion impact and placed the spheres along the x and y axes accordingly.


We discovered that layout and functionality had the biggest impacts on conversion, but both required a great deal of time and technical knowledge to manipulate. That meant switching things out for testing would prove expensive and time consuming, but getting it right was imperative. We found, again through observation, that sites with low functionality or with poor layouts failed at conversion. We also saw that content and creative were relatively easy to create, change, and test. They could, and should, be tested only after getting our foundations of layout and functionality built on solid virtual ground.


Ultimately, we designed a reliable framework that organized and prioritized our marketing plans, helping my team to optimize our marketing efforts. We created a new position titled “web optimization” that focused primarily on online testing. Organizing, prioritizing, and optimizing, the Adobe OPO Digital Marketing Framework, born of observation, was one of the first in the industry, giving us a specific advantage in analyzing our marketing efforts. How can you optimize your day today?