Adobe goes high end in podcast push

For his next performance, esteemed English actor Malcolm McDowell, known for “A Clockwork Orange” and “The Artist,” will espouse the value of a mobile marketing strategy during your morning commute.

Adobe has tapped McDowell and other actors to narrate its marketing white papers — basically advertising presented as research — turning the recordings into podcasts to promote Adobe’s marketing cloud. The company plans to release its first three audio white papers on Monday across iTunes, Spotify, SoundCloud and Bloomberg Radio.

“A lot of times marketers have the best intentions about reading white papers but find it hard to carve out that time,” said Alex Amado, senior director of creative and media at Adobe. “With this program, we decided to use mobile in particular to help add more value for our target audience.”

Adobe initially released its marketing cloud product in October 2012, marking the company’s diversification outside the creative tools business. In the past two and a half years, the product has grown into a major revenue driver for Adobe. It garnered $311 million in the first fiscal quarter of 2015, when the company generated $1.1 billion in total revenue. Adobe’s marketing cloud competes with similar offerings from Salesforce, IBM, Oracle and HP.

Adobe is promoting the white paper podcasts with ads on sites including Business Insider, Mashable and Adweek that enable visitors to listen to a white paper on mobile marketing directly from the ad unit, which features McDowell’s likeness.

Amado described Adobe’s target audience for its audio white papers as “senior marketing decision-makers,” but they are more likely to reach mid-level media planners and account managers than top marketing executives, said Fahad Khan, chairman of One Public, which also operates a marketing cloud product. Not that there’s a problem with that.

“What they’re doing is actually a great marketing tactic,” said Khan. “No executive or senior person is going to have time for this, but you’ve got billions being spent that are somehow being influenced on these 20-something account managers.”

Adobe plans to produce several of these audio white papers each month, read primarily by actors for hire, not celebrities like McDowell. The company will still release each one as standard white papers, but rewrites certain sections — referencing graphs and charts, for example — to optimize them for the podcast format.

Podcasts have grown steadily in popularity, now reaching over 27 million Americans each week, according to Edison Research. But Adobe doesn’t know what to expect in terms of consumption. “We will be generating millions and millions of impressions through the advertising, but in terms of what we get through uptake, we honestly don’t know,” said Amado. “We’re in the wild west of content marketing.”

Image assets courtesy of Adobe / SoundCloud

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