The strategy has its roots in the 2009 acquisition of Omniture, a Utah-based web analytics company, for $1.8 billion. At the time analysts scratched their heads over the deal, but Narayen believed his customers would come to demand data-driven marketing. Such marketing now embraces diverse tasks: real-time bidding on Google search ads, targeting display ads using Facebook (FB) profiles, analyzing which Tweets or blog posts drive traffic, testing different site designs to see which generate sales.
To make those features possible, Narayen has spent $800 million on acquisitions since Omniture: Day Software for website-content management, Demdex for ad targeting, Efficient Frontier for search and social media ad exchanges, and Auditude for inserting ads inside streaming videos. Online marketing will probably be a larger priority for many companies in coming years. According to Gartner, marketing budgets will grow 9% this year, compared with 4.7% for IT. Adobe wants to benefit from that growth by selling marketing services and software simultaneously.
Adobe's marketing products are being used by Expedia (EXPE), which created and optimized a social media campaign that boosted its Facebook followers by 750%. Movie-rental outfit Redbox used it to design mobile apps directing customers to its video kiosks. Sotheby's (BID) tracks which auction items clients are interested in the most when they peruse the company's iPad catalogues. Amy Todd Middleton, Sotheby's senior vice president of global strategic marketing, says that Adobe tools once relied on just for creating a website, for example, have become much more useful.