Welcome back to our ongoing series of conversations between influential bloggers from a range of fields, and experts from Adobe. These unique encounters offer insight into how end consumers feel about digital marketing, including how and when targeting is effective, what makes for an appealing campaign, and how marketing affects whether these all-important influencers spread the word about specific products and platforms.
Our featured blogger is Abi King (AK). In 2007, after five and a half years as a hospital doctor, Abi decided to follow her dream of becoming a writer, and Inside the Travel Lab was born. This luxury travel blog is described as one of the best travel blogs in the world by National Geographic Traveller and Lonely Planet. She’s s an award-winning journalist and photographer whose work has appeared in National Geographic Traveller, Lonely Planet, the BBC, Red, CNN and more.
She spoke to Adobe’s Michael Plimsoll (MP), Industry Marketing Director. He is seasoned, innovative marketing strategist focused on driving efficiencies and improved return on investment through the better use of data and analytics. Follow Mike @MichaelPlimsoll
AK: My name is Abi King and I’m the founder of Inside the Travel Lab. one of the world’s leading travel blogs. I’m here in London, in Adobe’s offices, to have a talk about behind-the-scenes digital marketing. And today I’m here to talk with Mike Plimsoll. Hi Mike, hello.
MP: Hi Abi.
AK: Can you tell me what do you do here at Adobe?
MP: I work in the product and industry marketing team which means that our team is responsible for product development, product roadmap, strategy and industry positioning.
AK: Thanks very much for agreeing to speak to me today and spend the time going behind the scenes. It’s really interesting from a travel consumer point of view to understand how we’re marketed to. Now, I’m a very visual person, I’m really driven a lot by what I see and that inspires a lot of my travel decisions. How can travel companies use this or how are travel companies using this?
MP: Experiences are really powerful when they’re visual and they’re appealing to consumers, and they’ll change the way that a consumer will interact, engage, depending on the creativity of it. We’re seeing, not just travel brands, but all industries look at driving better design, better creativity to create that wow moment for customers, something that’s going to break through the noise of everything else that’s out there, that’s going to engage with them on a one-to-one level and be personal.
And then that gets them into that brand and starts them on that journey.
AK: So when we’re talking about design we’re not just talking about how things look at the moment, we’re thinking about how they work as well.
MP: Oh yes absolutely, I mean, you know, creativity and the design is—yes it’s a pretty picture, it’s a nice video, but it’s the entire user experience. How do you orchestrate a journey from start to finish, whether it’s starting with an email or the opening of an app? How do you ensure that the minute you open your airline’s app it’s personalised and tailored and pulls you in, so you engage further?
AK: At the moment can machines—say, they work out that you’re going to Helsinki, because that’s quite an easy word to search for, are they able, at the moment to, for example, would [it] be able to say, “Hey it’s Mike coming in again, we know he always leaves it very late and he’s going to have to race round the shop so we’re going to target things for that?” Can they work out that kind of behaviour for people at the moment?
MP: Absolutely, and at Adobe we’ve got the Adobe Sensei framework, which is our own AI machine learning framework. We’re very much focused on marketing, and so looking at behaviours, activity that will benefit marketers, whether that’s image recognition or next best action. But yes, we can start to look at consumer behaviour. And start to understand trends around, you know, what the right next best action would be.
So, for instance, with the Heathrow example, if you know through my Heathrow loyalty membership I may always go to the Nero coffee shop and I’ll collect my Heathrow rewards points. But now knowing that, you can start to use machine learning and AI to go, “Well Mike’s three hours away, this is the traffic, here’s an offer for coffee.” Adobe Sensei is our own artificial intelligence machine learning framework. All of the products and solutions from the Creative Cloud, Document Cloud, Marketing Cloud have had AI machine learning built into them for many, many years.
You look at a product like Lightroom, and the facial awareness or the object recognition capability it’s got, or in the marketing products, as the anomaly detection capability. These AI machine learning capabilities exist in those solutions, but what we’re doing is we’re creating a framework to bring them together. We’re investing significantly in the development of them and to enhance them and bring new AI machine learning capability to our customers, which in turn will benefit their customers.
Should the end consumer be worried or wanting to know what Adobe Sensei is? Probably not. What they should just be concerned about is getting the best experience that’s contextual, relevant, personalised to them and that’s what Adobe Sensei will help deliver. And ideally they’ll never know it exists.
As a consumer how important is it to have consistent experiences whether it’s when you call their call centre, or go onto their app, or to go on to their desktop site—do you expect information to be transferred and preferences shared across multiple channels? Or do you understand that these are separate?
AK: So when you look at seeing a travel company across, say, desktop [and] mobile, and whether or not the information is transferred, I think I do expect it to be transferred. I expect everything to be linked up by now, because that’s what happens with my mobile phone anyway, you know, with Safari you open the browser and it says hey this is what you’ve got on your laptop. So I would now expect that from travel brands, I’m afraid. I would see that as default. Is that a difficult thing for companies to do?
MP: I think that a lot of brands are trying to get to this point of having that single view, that historically every company’s been siloed, and sharing information has always been difficult. But as you say, consumers see brands as one entity, they don’t understand that there’s HR, and legal, and marketing, and different product teams: they just see it as one brand.
AK: I think it probably does really frustrate me if there’s something that you can’t change on your mobile phone that you have to wait to get back to the desktop. Depending what we’re talking about, but often with travel you are travelling, you’re on the move, so it does need to be even more mobile-responsive than perhaps some financial software where you might be in a different frame of mind—you know, you’re going to be at home with a cup of tea or a glass of wine, sorting out your tax return. You know you need a chunk of time, and you’ll be sat down, whereas with travel you are always travelling and on the move and on the go.
So you want to be able to pull up the hotel reservation to get the address for where you’re going. And if your program or if your app says oh no we can’t do that, you can only do that on the main site, the non-mobile site, then that probably seems a failure these days.
Thanks, Mike, for talking to me today, and thank you for tuning in. Now remember this is one of a six part series here in Adobe, and you can find the rest on their Digital Marketing Blog Europe at blog.adobe.com/digitaleurope/. Thanks for watching.