Adobe Target: Optimization for the Experience Business

by Kevin Lindsay

posted on 03-15-2017

We want to give you a preview of something that you’ll be hearing about a lot at Adobe Summit next week — Adobe Target’s new Experience Optimization Framework. We would also like to take this opportunity to describe an important new governance feature that simplifies the way the experience business works. Why now? Rising customer expectations, technology re-platforming projects on shiny new architectures, increasing IT restrictions, and the growing use of artificial intelligence (AI). Sound familiar?

Welcome to the modern web. In this era, customer experience reigns supreme, and every part of the business must be in lockstep with that goal. More than ever before, businesses for which digital is a key piece of the strategy — in other words, all businesses — need to take well-honed, data-driven practices beyond marketing to embrace experience optimization in all aspects of their customer-experience (CX) strategy.

Experience optimization is the marriage of CX strategy and personalization with a purpose. It’s a practice that allows you to easily and rigorously experiment with and personalize exceptional customer experiences across expansive websites and mobile apps — or, for that matter, all your brand’s digital and customer touchpoints. Those experiences must meet and exceed a customer need and do so in a way that not only makes each customer feel uniquely valued, but also helps the business achieve a desired outcome (think stellar conversion rate, net promoter score (NPS), record sales — you get the picture). All this requires much more than a basic A/B testing tool or hardcoded targeting rules that simply help you deliver pleasant-looking webpages.

How Adobe Is Empowering Experience-Business Practitioners
Several years ago, we set out to democratize optimization and personalization across organizations. We knew that your marketers increasingly wanted a direct hand in driving revenue from the company’s digital and customer touchpoints. They didn’t want to have to rely on your IT teams and developers to try out their ideas. We also understood that, by giving more people a hand in optimization, your company could scale its efforts and multiply its success.

As we built Adobe Target, we knew that good governance would not only allow your users to focus on the projects that were important to them, but also give them the appropriate permission levels with those projects. We also provided much-needed guiderails through our user interface and its workflows to promote adherence to optimization best practices.

New digital touchpoints rapidly emerged, expanding opportunities for optimization to mobile apps, kiosks, set-top boxes, and more. Today, we see more opportunities for optimization — for example, giving call-center workers optimized scripts while on calls, providing more meaningful responses to your customers from AI-driven (artificial intelligence-driven) voice assistants like Alexa or delivering customer insights on tablets, so salespeople can provide personalized in-store assistance. In anticipation of these opportunities, we built our Experience Optimization Framework, which now extends the reach of Adobe Target, enabling you to optimize for three main areas — web, apps, and connected experiences. It also leverages a common user interface, set of workflows, architecture, and governance.

Just as the web doesn’t stop changing and innovating, neither do we. In addition to sharing some valuable new governance features that overlay all three areas of the framework, we want to introduce you to a totally new enterprise-optimization framework for web. And, finally, we’ll show you how to use the framework for a connected experience that’s perfect for when you need — or just want — ultimate control of Target.

Governance That Fits Your Business — Not the Other Way Around
We believe that technology shouldn’t dictate how you do business — that only creates unintuitive workarounds that make more work. Instead, we want to give you control and flexibility in how you apply user roles and permissions so that our governance molds to how you do business — not the other way around.

Adobe Target administrators can now create “properties,” based on how you organize your business or optimization projects, and assign users access to those properties and appropriate permissions within them. For example, a multinational auto manufacturer with a dozen automotive brands that cater to different personas doesn’t want all users from all business units personalizing experiences across the company. Thus, instead, they can assign properties by business unit and allow the appropriate users to personalize associated web, app, and even in-car experiences from one shared user interface.

With the new governance capabilities in Adobe Target Premium, you can now assign a user to one or more of these properties based on the work she does and then assign her specific roles and permissions within each property.

New Experience Optimization Framework for Modern Websites
For years, we’ve offered and meticulously updated our established implementation framework for web and mobile sites. About a year ago, we realized that, to fully address the web of today — the modern web — we needed a fresh start. So, as we maintained the old single-line-of-code framework, we began creating its replacement in parallel. We are now excited to offer you the Experience Optimization Framework for Web, AT.js — an implementation framework that’s state-of-the-art today and future-proofed for emerging trends. This isn’t just a theoretical framework — many Adobe Target customers have begun using it.

Here’s a quick glimpse into why we’re getting so many “likes” for this framework:

1. Takes Advantage of the Asynchronous Content Delivery offered by single-page application (SPA) websites by offering extensions for popular SPA frameworks such as Angular and React. This means better customer experiences with responsive delivery — and high fives for your IT department who’s able to offer high-performance sites using fewer resources.

2. Enjoys Backing From a Dedicated, Growing SPA-Developer Community because our extensions support the work of your developers. We developed this from the ground up for SPAs. Your developers understand what true support means.

3. Provides a Validation Layer in the communication between receiving an experience from Adobe Target and delivering the experience to your site — essentially, a space-station airlock in which you can validate data, insert security code, or take other measures (like more high fives for your IT team). Now, they have more control over changes made to sites through optimization as well as an additional layer of security to help them sleep more easily at night.

4. Eliminates Delays in Display Caused by document.write(), making Google’s announcement that they’d block document.write() on slower 2G mobile traffic a non-issue for you. We suspect that, in the future, Google may place this block on other mobile-traffic speeds and that other browsers that are currently taking a “wait and see” approach may adopt this change.

So, what does this all this mean for your experience business?

“Marriott adopted AT.js as part of an overall reimagining of our web technology strategy. Its modern architecture is noticeable [sic] faster with today’s web browsers,” explains Marriott’s director of digital experiments, Lee Carson. “We have strong reason to believe that the page speed gains alone have led to millions in revenue. Along with the Adobe APIs, AT.js will be critical to rolling-out omnichannel experimentation and personalization across not only our natively digital channels, but call centers and front-desks.”

Experience Optimization Framework for Connected Experiences
If you’re like most of our customers, you believe that our Adobe Target application programming interfaces (APIs) are designed to extend the Experience Optimization Framework to Internet of things (IoT) devices. That’s absolutely spot on. Target can truly be used everywhere — from ATMs to in-store kiosks, set-top boxes, gaming consoles, smart displays, and even call centers. But, these APIs have another critical use — if you need (or want) more control over Target, and have the technical chops to do so, they allow you to implement Target directly on your web servers. In other words, you can deploy Adobe Target on your website server side.

We’re seeing a trend in the number of you who are interested in server-side implementations of software as a service. If you’re among these customers, you have strong technical abilities and are willing to trade the ability to create compelling experiences with the Visual Experience Composer for more control. Some of you need this control due to company policies or industry regulations; others simply want the ability to embed Target directly into the DNA of their website to collect additional data and conduct more-complex tests; and still others may have concerns over privacy, performance, or both as associated with JavaScript-based implementations.

Regardless of your reason for wanting a server-side implementation, you expect the same performance, governance, and enterprise scale offered by a client-side implementation. With the Experience Optimization Framework, server-side deployment of Adobe Target offers exactly that.

Resting on Our Laurels — No Longer an Option
We understand that, for you to succeed as an experience business, we can’t view our jobs as done — ever. We must constantly evolve Adobe Target to stay out in front of changes in the customer experience, the web, and technological innovation. We think these latest developments and ways of using Adobe Target speak to that.

So, what’s next? You’ll have to just wait and see. In the meantime, we’ll keep scanning the horizon for the first sighting of something new that might impact your work and your world — and then, we’ll help you prepare for it.

Topics: Personalization