Purple to Red: A 7-time Marketo Summit Attendee’s Take on the 2019 Adobe Summit

Just got back from Vegas after a week at the 2019 Adobe Summit.

This would have been my eighth Marketo Summit and was my first experience in the world of Adobe. Wanted to share my experience after spending lots of time with Marketo over the past decade.

Going in, I knew this Summit would be different. Bigger scale, new people, new products and new partners to get to know. I knew that many of our clients were not attending this year due to the fact that it was kind of last minute and that the Marketo portion of the event was smaller than past years. I was ready for change and open to embrace it.

On day 1 we attended the partner day and this is where I got my first feel for the difference. There were over 2,500 people from 800+ partners in attendance. This could have been the keynote for Summit 3-4 years ago. These were just the partners alone. OK – not going to know all of the partners like we do now. Not all the companies and definitely not all the people at the companies.

Within the partner community, it definitely feels like there are more service companies than technology. That is different than Marketo LaunchPoint where most partners are on the technology side. The other big difference is the number of massive consulting firms. Like 100,000+ employee companies. These are the big shops that I presume do most of the AEM (Adobe’s CMS) implementations.

Adobe has something called ‘Adobe Exchange’ which is essentially like Marketo LaunchPoint. Sounds like LaunchPoint will continue to exist and then the plan is to merge that into Adobe Exchange. Lots is still up in the air but my guess is that all of Marketo’s specific programs will roll into Adobe’s over time. When I was at IBM it took about 1.5 years for everything to be ‘bluewashed’.

Adobe keynote was huge. Almost Dreamforce-like. ~17K people in attendance. The stage was one of the coolest I’ve ever seen. It’s clear Adobe makes photoshop and has the designers that can make magic in there. Adobe’s slides and presentation are definitely on-point. I think they will give that creative-edge to Marketo that they have been missing for so long.

Shantanu Narayen is definitely an elite-level CEO. Lots of poise on stage and can inspire and look to the future. For Adobe it’s all about the Customer Experience and everything around that. In reality, it is CMS, analytics, marketing automation, ads, and some artificial intelligence/machine learning. Another takeaway for me here is that unlike in the Marketo space where you could know everything about the products and what’s going on, it appears seemingly impossible to do the same with Adobe. There are just too many products, too many partners to be able to know-it-all.

Steve Lucas had about 7 minutes in the keynote and was able to bring the energy of the crowd up as he typically does. Adobe definitely shined the spotlight on Marketo several times throughout the event, and compared to Magento, Marketo was definitely more visible and top of mind. I heard from a Magento customer that they would be still having their own conference, which made me a little jealous, but more on that later.

Marketo is being positioned as the B2B solution for Adobe. Although they also introduced the concept of B2E (business to everyone). Adobe Campaign seems to still be represented on Adobe’s overall product slide, and from what I have seen is going to be their B2C solution. Fun fact: in my session on Tuesday I polled the crowd and 1 person out of 500 used Adobe Campaign.

Marketo-sessions seemed to be well attended. There were only a handful on Tuesday and Wednesday and then the majority on Thursday. Lots of loyal Marketo customers in attendance despite the sudden switch from October to March. I honestly found that because there were so many people it was a bit tougher to connect with fellow Marketo friends. Normally walking around you bump into a million people but because there were so many people I found it was a bit tougher to do so.

The tradeshow floor was massive. To give you some perspective, in 2018 the Marketo Summit had 58 sponsors. Adobe had 168. 31 of last years sponsors did not exhibit at this year’s event. 53% did not exhibit. Marketo did have a dedicated spot for the Marketo partners, but it was in the very back left of the floor. Despite that, I think people still managed to find it but it was not exactly the premium spot on the floor.

The Summit Bash was really incredible. The Killers played at the T-Mobile arena, which is where the Golden Knights play. They somehow had enough buses to take ~10K people over to the arena with ease. All of the vendors within the arena were open and serving food and drinks. It was packed in there and The Killers put on an awesome set. This was a full-on concert. Like, pyrotechnics, confetti, and everything.

The last and final day was the Marketo day. Big Marketo keynote in the morning with Steve, Sarah, Adobe’s CMO, and some of Marketo’s customers and champions. I really liked that Marketo featured some customers in this to highlight people from the community. The community is what I really think makes Marketo what it is. I also loved that they gave Juli and Joe some time.

There were several mentions of CRM within the conference and anytime a CRM was shown they showed Microsoft Dynamics. Microsoft is a huge partner of Adobe and their Sataya Nadella, their CEO was there presenting. It was clear Adobe has an affinity to Dynamics, despite the fact that up until a year or so ago they were definitely using Salesforce internally. There was definitely some Salesforce bashing and a bit of a nudge that people should consider Dynamics.

I personally hope that nothing happens here and customers continue to get the choice of what CRM they want to be on. It would suck if they forced you to pick a Marketing Automation + CRM combination. I hope it never comes to this but my gut says it may be a definite reality one-day.

Marketo announced a partnership with Drift, a conversational marketing vendor, and talked about improvements to their ABM platform. They showed how Adobe Sensei could be used to build custom audiences based on machine learning and AI. That was cool. They talked about Sky and some of the improvements there, and how they are beyond just a new look and feel. We heard rumours that Sky is still very much under development and that it may not be done by the end of 2019.

In maybe the most underwhelming part of the keynote for me, was image cropping within Marketo. I hope Marketo + Adobe are able to do more than this in the future and I know the acquisition is pretty recent, but for me, this seems like basic asset creation capabilities that should exist in any Marketing Automation platform.

Final thoughts: something was missing for me at Summit this year. Perhaps it was just me, but I am not sure I left with the same feeling of connecting with peers and feeling that community that I have known to grow and love. Maybe it is just a lot of change and that it will take some time to adapt. Maybe it was Vegas. Not sure. But, I do hope that Marketo is able to keep the same sense of community that it has been able to foster over the years.

On the plus side, I think that Adobe brings resources that Marketo never had before. I think there could be a lot of value generated if they manage to connect their different products together, especially AEM, Analytics, and Marketo. I am really excited about Adobe bringing more creativity to the Marketo community and encouraging that more. I think the combo of Marketo + Adobe is stronger than any other acquisition that has happened in the market.

I am still incredibly proud and excited to be part of this new family and excited to see where it takes #MKTGNATION. I feel closer to Steve and Sarah now that they are representing us inside of Adobe. And I do feel a bit more connected to everyone in MKTGNATION as we go through this transformation going from Purple to Red.

If you’ve made it all the way down here – would love to know what you think and how you feel about all the change.

Over and out.