Travis Landrum: I’m really excited today to be joined by some of the greatest brands in technology–in Adobe, joining us will be Steve Weeks, and Autodesk, joining us will be Dan Silmore. They’ll be talking today about the challenges and opportunities that the last 18 months have provided. And then also the road ahead as we look to the future. Dan, Steve, welcome. As we open, I think it’d be really interesting to hear a little bit about your backgrounds.
Dan Silmore: So my name is Dan Silmore. I head up a team inside Autodesk known as the Digital Media Center. What we do, effectively, is we maximize reach and return by amplifying the Autodesk story through global digital media.
Travis Landrum: Steve, can you tell us a little bit about your role at Adobe and background there?
Steve Weeks: I oversee what we call our performance marketing group for the Adobe document cloud business. Our objective is fairly simple: it’s generate revenue. We have global responsibility, and we generate over $50 million in revenue each quarter. And all of this is measured by our in-house attribution model.
Travis Landrum: I’m really curious at how over the last 12 to 18 months, each of you have weathered, you know, all of the adversity that we’ve seen with COVID, certainly, and then the opportunities that’s presented inside of the technology vertical.
Steve Weeks: From an Adobe perspective, we did see a shift in our audience behavior. You know, our company is really about changing the world through digital experiences. And as people had to stay home during the pandemic, they chose to be more creative; they chose to be more productive. And while we saw an increase in demand for our products, we didn’t just sit still; we had to adapt to the changes in the environment.
Travis Landrum: That’s really great. Steve. Dan, what have you seen on the Autodesk side?
Dan Silmore: We were also positioned pretty well, for all these folks who were at home, going on to their machines or mobile devices, and starting to explore options from their new home environment. We saw the decision-making cycle shortened in a couple of key ways–in some places as much as 20-30%. But what we’ve seen post-COVID, particularly lower funnel, is a big increase in the amount of traffic that we’re seeing, referred by mobile devices.
Travis Landrum: Can you talk a little bit about, you know, how you both are looking at audiences, and how you’re going to connect with those audiences?
Dan Silmore: Basically, staying relevant, trying to be where the audience is, right? So we saw some behavior shift, but really kind of trying to move where the puck is, where the audience is, and learn along the way.
Steve Weeks: The thing that was very important for us in all of this is just making sure that we were empathetic with our audience. And that was very important for us to make sure that we were on message. And also just find out: where does that message resonate in different channels in different formats?
Travis Landrum: You really mentioned something there around messaging and the way that you were connecting with your customer set. Dan, did you make any changes in messaging at all, early in the pandemic?
Dan Silmore: In terms of, you know, being there, particularly in those early couple of quarters in the spring, summer of last year, making our software more available, we had a number of programs running easier access, you know, just to be there for, you know, as a guiding hand as a help to our customers.
Steve Weeks: It was like last March or April, looking at every piece of creative and saying, ‘what are we saying–are we saying this in the right way?’ But at the same time, right, we did want to also tell people like, ‘Look, you still can be creative, and you can still be productive,’ right? And but you need to do it; you can do it on your terms.
Travis Landrum: Would you both mind talking a little bit, you know, Dan, you talked about the real importance of maximizing reach across your audience; Steve, I’m sure that that is top of mind for you as well?
Steve Weeks: We enjoy, from a marketing perspective, is we have an in-house attribution model, but we have it for display, for search, for email. So for us, we can tell relatively quickly where we’re seeing pockets of success and where we need to optimize to and optimize away from–and that can get down to message, that can get down to format, that can get down to audience.
Dan Silmore: I would echo Steve’s internal attribution, same idea: we’ve got an internal multi-touch attribution model as well. We look at things the same way. So, you know, we’re optimizing and maximizing, you know, different, you know, sort of set of KPIs, you know, and we’re trying to be more predictive.
Travis Landrum: So with all of that–the need to optimize, the need to be predictive, the need to really understand, you know, how your audience is moving in real time, day to day, and how to get that right messaging in front of them–where does our partnership come in? Where does Quantcast come in?
Steve Weeks: Man, we’re partnered for seven or eight years. So it’s been a long time. And I would say that the thing that your team has really, you know, embraced with us is understanding that we have certain goals and certain objectives. And those goals and objectives are going to be different than Dan’s goals and objectives and Autodesk’s different goals and objectives. And you work with us to find what is right for us–and the solutions and the products and the tactics that are right for our business. And you keep iterating on that. I mean, we’ve come a long way from where we were eight years ago, yet we still find opportunities; we still find ways to find the audience in a meaningful way, for a good return. Right, at the end of the day, as I mentioned earlier, our business is all about generating revenue. And if Quantcast and your team couldn’t do that for us, you wouldn’t be on our plan, quite honestly.
Dan Silmore: I think a big thing that jumps out for me, Travis, in my history with your team: you know, when I first started looking at this business, on behalf of Autodesk, you know, we had lots of different teams potentially advertising to the same audience; we had conflicting messages; we might have three groups advertising to a single audience, you know, in display advertising, for example. I think your team has helped a lot in terms of calling out overlap, calling out conflict. Another thing I would call out would be helping us extend and expand our audience, helping us with look-alikes, also, to be specific–when we find an audience that has a propensity, you know, they’ve purchased one product, they’re very likely to purchase this other, you know, sort of, you know, workflow-related product.
Travis Landrum: Do you find your partnerships with your teams and vendor partners more important today, or the same, or maybe more in the past?
Dan Silmore: I’m looking to partners, not just from that data perspective but also analytics and optimization perspective. And so I see an increasing need, you know, to learn from others and understand best practices.
Steve Weeks: The environment of the landscape is changing so much, and there’s so much unknown, that you have to rely on a tech partner to help navigate your way through that. And it’s going to change again!
Travis Landrum: You know the other massive theme in our industry right now, the deprecation of the cookie: can you both speak a little bit about how data plays a role in what you do every day in informing audiences, informing media decisioning, informing optimization, all of that?
Dan Silmore: You know, we’ve got great first-party data: we’ve got a lot of information, you know, what folks are doing on our sites, what they’re purchasing, whether they’ve attended an event, a webinar, downloaded a trial, all of that stuff. But it’s the connecting of all of that–and plus the third-party platforms and everything else–there’s definitely room for improvement on: how do we connect it; how do we do it in a way that’s respectful of privacy in the future?
Steve Weeks: Data fuels our attribution model; data fuels, you know, all of the decisioning we make.
Travis Landrum: I think both of you really called out two pretty big challenges, right? So Dan called out the challenge of post-third-party cookies: how do we get all of these pieces of tech to work together?
Steve Weeks: We don’t know what we don’t know. We’re doing a lot of listening, too: we’re listening to publishers, and we’re listening to the tech providers or the data providers. The one thing that I do have confidence in in the ad industry is: we usually figure it out.
Dan Silmore: One of the proactive things we’d be doing, presenting them with something relevant that makes them want to either be logged in with us, or trialing with us, doing something other than navigating around anonymously. And just like Steve said, just a whole lot of learning and testing, you know, from here.
Travis Landrum: I think this is a really exciting time, right? We’re, in a way, witnessing the rebirth of digital media, right, and I think that brings a lot of opportunities inside of these challenges that we’ll face. Is there anything that would really help you as you look forward?
Dan Silmore: Helping do this in a productive way is one thing I’m hoping happens as we evolve through this, you know, with that ultimate goal of being deeply relevant to the customer without violating privacy, of course. But we also know that they use our software, you know–they need us; we need them. We have to find a way to stay relevant in this equation. And so, you know, I’m hoping we can do that, you know, in a really productive way with partners.
Steve Weeks: I guess, as you said, Travis, I’m with you. I think this is exciting. I mean, I like, you know, trailblazing; I like navigating new areas. I kind of enjoy listening to see what other brands and what other ad tech and technology and publishers are doing. I don’t know ultimately what we’re looking forward to other than, you know, all of us as brands and an industry acknowledging that, you know, let’s try and figure it out together.
Dan Silmore: There’s this opportunity to really connect the dots, as I said before–connect the data, connect the dots, make it a connected experience for the customer. Everything is becoming more digital. Everything is becoming more seamless. But we’ve also got these privacy issues; we’ve also got deprecation and so forth. I’m really excited to prove it out. I want to have a couple of scenarios where we said, you know, we were able to go from brand to demand, and we did it in a truly respectful way–and the customer benefited, we benefited, and here’s the results. I’m excited for that.
Travis Landrum: Yeah, I just have to say that, you know, having spent the last seven years as partners with both of you: we’re really excited about going on this journey with you and about continuing to recreate digital media. Thank you both so much. Thank all of you for joining us, and I will now pass NOVA back to Konrad.