Exclusive - how Adobe Launch modernizes tag management on the Adobe Cloud Platform

Profile picture for user barb.mosher By Barb Mosher Zinck November 7, 2017
With the announcement of Adobe Launch, Adobe adds a new element to its Cloud Platform. In this exclusive news analysis, we explain why Adobe sees this as a big advancement in tag management.

Step back a few years when marketers worked with only a few technologies, each one needing to place Javascript on the website to track visitors and, in some cases, enable actions. It wasn’t a major pain to work with each one individually, and they didn’t necessarily need to work together. Those were much simpler times.

Fast forward, and I don’t have to remind you how many different technologies marketers are using, and I don’t have to show you the Martech Landscape diagram again because most of you probably have that baby blown up on your office wall. Now you have dozens of apps that need to place Javascript on your website, and you do want them to work together, and that can sometimes feel like a pipe dream. If you are using Adobe’s Cloud Platform, that pipe dream is a little closer.

Adobe is introducing Launch, a new approach to tag management that enables tech vendors to manage their app integrations in Adobe’s tag management system and allow your apps to work together.

Adobe tag management evolves

Adobe Launch is not version two of Adobe Dynamic Tag Management (DTM). DTM evolved out of Adobe’s acquisition of Satellite back in 2013. Jon Viray, Product Marketing Manager for Adobe Platform and Services, explained that Launch was built from scratch and sits as a core service of the Adobe Platform. It was designed to fix some of the challenges with traditional tag management systems.

The biggest challenge? A closed ecosystem. Tag management is designed to enable marketers to connect multiple systems by centrally managing the tags that each system needs to track and perform actions on a website. The tag management solution provider is responsible for creating the integration with different marketing technologies. Viray says this is a problem. He said that it’s essentially “misaligned ownership,” with non-experts (tag management developers) building the integrations for tech providers (the experts). What results is limited functionality and the inability to support highly complex use cases.

One example Viray offered related to video. Companies have a lot of video content they want to offer on their web experience, but it’s hard to measure and deliver the right video based on real-time events on the page. What a company wants is the ability to insert the right video on the page at the right moment.

Adobe Launch puts control of the integration into the hands of the tech vendors. Launch is licensed under Apache 2.0, and it’s built with the same APIs that it offers to tech vendors to integrate their solutions. Anyone can add new capabilities to Launch, what Viray referred to as “agile innovation.”

Building a tag management marketplace

Think about this like an Android or an Apple ecosystem where anyone has access to developer APIs to build apps on top of these platforms. This is what Adobe wants to do with Launch. For example, within Launch, there is a YouTube extension by a boutique agency. The agency set up their extension configured it and added new functionality by adding a new event to track the video play time.

What you have is one script deployed on your website, listening for events. Within Launch, you create rules, which are events to listen for and what to do if an event is triggered. These rules are not set independently by each vendor solution; you can mix match actions to take by one or more vendors in a rule. So, if a video is played, you can send a code to video management system, set off an event in your marketing automation system and send another parameter to your ad management system. Everything configured and managed in one rule.

With Launch, it’s not just about unified data; it’s about capturing new kinds of data and making it accessible to everyone.

To build on Launch, you do have to sign an exchange agreement, and at some point in the future Viray said partners will have a self-service portal to build integrations. For now, there are a number of partners already set up including 33 Sticks, Twitter, Clicktale, Google Analytics and LinkedIn Insight Tag, along with all of Adobe’s solutions.

Building the marketing platform ecosystem

To some degree, this is the future that Scott Brinker sees as the marketing platform ecosystem.

Today, vendors need to think more like Apple and Android. Brinker said the value proposition is in the extra apps that third-party developers build to run on these platforms. Maybe you won’t go to this extreme, or maybe you will. The idea is to find the right mix: what will you build and what will you open up to the rest of the ecosystem. Vendors are moving this way at different speeds, Brinker said.

What is exciting for Brinker is the idea of embedding the user experience of a third party application into the platform, giving marketers a single place to work.

Think of about this: some tag management solutions on the market offer between 500 and a thousand integrations. For Adobe to take on the development and management of this number of integrations would be a waste of their focus and efforts. Why not open it to enable other solutions to build their own integrations?

My take

Adobe has been on a path lately that provides better integrations with third-party marketing solutions. One vendor cannot create and offer everything (although Adobe does offer a lot). Its commitment to an open environment shows in many ways, including the over 250 open source projects it has, such as PhoneGap (mobile app development).

Also, remember Adobe’s partnership with Microsoft and the goal to create a standard data model that everyone could use to capture and share data. Still waiting to hear more about this, but I assume it’s part of the tighter integration recently announced between the Marketing Cloud and MS Dynamics.

The open marketing ecosystem is more than a possibility. And it is closer than maybe some would believe. Today we’re talking about Adobe’s steps in that direction, but tomorrow it will be someone else. Dreamforce is going on - who knows what we’ll hear there.