Adobe Target and Customer Data Platforms (CDPs)


If your organization leverages Adobe Target for their optimization and personalization efforts and you have not joined your internal Visitor ID to Adobe Target’s visitor ID, consider making that a top priority. This capability has existed for quite some time but is now getting a renewed focus mainly due to ITP, browsers like Chrome are changing how cookies are managed, and Customer Data Platforms (CDPs).

Joining your internal Visitor ID to Adobe Target’s ID takes just a few minutes to complete, costs you absolutely nothing, immediately creates cross-device test coordination, and opens the door wide open to use ANY (except PII, of course:) of the data that you have mapped to that ID. We recommended this blog post or this article by Adobe to see how to do this.

Adobe Target 1st party data, 2nd party data, and 3rd party data

This effort is, by far, the most valuable and highly strategic component of Adobe Target. Doing this converts your optimization program from a 2nd Party one to a 1st Party one where all the data is based on YOUR organization’s ID, not just Adobe’s. All of your Adobe IDs across your various browsers and devices will now map to your organization’s 1st Party ID.

Once this exercise is complete, your organization has a 1st-party optimization program which means ITP and changes to cookies are managed within browsers will not impact test execution and analysis. In fact, a 1st-party optimization program not only future proofs investments in testing and personalization but also enables your organizations to expand their efforts considerably with customer journey optimization.

Okay, so now you have the 1st Party ID in place, now what…

Configuring Adobe Target to become a 1st-Party Optimization program is the easy part. Historically, and still quite common, the more challenging part is figuring out where internally at your organization the 1st Party data is located that is mapped to that visitor ID that you now have mapped to Adobe Target. Then once you know that, the challenge then becomes how best to get it to Adobe Target.

The where…

Organizations vary considerably in terms of where this rich 1st-Party data exists. The data could be located across several different systems and spread across an array of different teams. The data might be in data-lakes, data layers, cookies, completely offline, and in some cases not joined to the Visitor ID you used but rather other definitions of a Visitor ID. Users of Adobe Target, those that execute the Activities, may also not have access to the systems or teams that manage this 1st Party data.

Data compliance is another important factor concerning where the data is located. Data compliance is the practice of making sure that the data being managed is guarded against misuse. Depending on where the data is located, it may or may not be data compliant – safe to use for testing and personalization within Adobe Target.

As you can see, finding safe-to-use data can be a challenge. Thankfully, some organizations have overcome this challenge and established governance and processes to get the data. This then leaves them with the “how” to get this data into Adobe Target for their personalization and testing needs.

The how…

Once you know where the data is, Adobe Target provides quite a few options to get the data into Adobe Target. Depending on the format your data is in, you may also have to modify the format to leverage one of the options available. Here are the main mechanisms organizations get data into Adobe Target for personalization and targeting Activities:

  • Adobe Target API – here you can update single Profile attributes or use Adobe Target batch files to upload as many as 1,000,000 Visitors per day (I know of several organizations that exceed this considerably and it works wonderfuly)
  • Adobe Target adbox – this is an old-school tool that many of us old-timers use from time to time. It is simply a pixel that passes data to Target. Very helpful from taking data from email platforms and passing it to Adobe Target upon email open.
  • Client-side or Server-side via parameter value pairs – just like your Analytics tags collect data that Adobe Target mbox calls as well. This is a very popular approach given the use of local stroage and datalayers and Adobe Target’s ability to easily consume that information.
  • Adobe Analytics Customer Attributes – those organizations that make strategic use of Customer Attributes are using this approach to very creatively to get 1st party data into Adobe Target. Adobe converts these attribute to Adobe Target Profile Attributes automatically.
  • Adobe Audience Manager – within Audience Manager, organizations can create segments as they wish and share them to the Experience Cloud, which makes them available within Adobe Target. Quite a few of the organizations that use MiaProva, leverage this approach.

As you can see, the highways are built and are ready to use. Adobe has done a fantastic job giving organizations different options to get the data that they need to Adobe Target for personalization and testing. Despite these mechanisms, organizations still struggle to establish the infrastructure to automate and maintain the data transfer despite the considerable value.

The value…

Out of the clients that use MiaProva and the organizations that we work with at Demystified, it is safe to say that only about 45% of them leverage the functionality that enables 1st Party optimization programs. The reality of it all is that while the functionality is there and the value is massive, organizations often struggle to take advantage of these capabilities. Learning the capabilities, connecting the pipes, establishing process and governance, etc… are barriers that many organizations can’t overcome.

Those organizations that have been able to overcome the barriers realize significant value. Here are just a handle of many examples of organizations and what they are doing with their 1st Party Optimization Programs:

  • For a $1.2B retailer, weekly (on Sundays), they use Adobe Target’s batch processing for Profile attributes processing in-store transaction data so they can be used in key Activities by the various testing teams for customer journey optimization.
  • A $900M retailer, before each email blast, they pass key profile attributes via a pixel call to Adobe Target that is specific to that email in the event the visitor “view throughs” to the website vs. clicking through. This effort was instrumental to coordinate pricing threshold messaging offline and online.
  • For a $7B retailer, 1st Party data is made available as Response Tokens so that their CMS can use the data for content decionsing and rules.
  • For finance, a $20B financial institution, using Audience Manager and Adobe Target batch APIs is allowing them to give Automated Personalization very rich 1st Party data for modeling and content decisioning. Additionally, considerable personalization efforts via Target are rooted in this data.
  • A $39B financial instituation is using client-side and server-side parameter passing Tag Management for very advanced use of Automated Personalization along with rich analyis via A4T. Additionally, this approach enables their internal call centers to mimic experiences of the digital consumers by way of the cross-device test coordination.

The challenges around “where” the data is and “how” to use it are not specific to personalization and optimization efforts. The increasing demand to make data actionable, connect multiple data sources, and provide data compliance expands well beyond testing to all marketing and data science components.

This perfect storm has created a vacuum that is being filled by something called Customer Data Platforms (CDPs).


What is a CDP?  This is not a simple answer by any means, as CDPs providers have a wide range of features and capabilities that align and manage consumer data for organizations.   CDPs can make the “where” and the “how” considerably easier than it has to be, and some CDPs can automate those efforts.

We are not going to go into all that a CDP is here. At a high level, a CDP is all about managing an individual customer with a single profile. CDPs have visitor stitching algorithms, provide data compliances, and make the data available to different departments and solutions like Adobe Target, for example.


MiaProva customers vary considerably in terms of CDP use with testing and optimization. Those that do can automate and accelerate their use of 1st Party data for testing and optimization. Our clients work with several different CDPs, but I wanted to call out ACTIONIQ specifically because they work with Adobe Target to bring the 1st party data to life. 

I’ve highlighted above how organizations have to establish processes and governance around the “where” and the “how”, but here is how ACTIONIQ automates that process seamlessly, specifically for Adobe Target, so that testing teams can focus on strategy and execution. 

  1. Real-time syncing – as this first-party data gets updates, these guys update the Adobe Target Profile as events take place across other channels 
  2. Batch synching – weekly, every 10-days, Sunday nights, they can automate the process of porting Adobe Target Profile attributes for personalization and testing.  Much easier than gathering a file internally and uploading it from your PC. 
  3. Porting Adobe Target Activity Meta-data to other solutions.  CDPs shouldn’t be limited to feeding Adobe Target data about the digital consumers, but they can also consume what Activities or tests your digital consumers are members of.  Consider how helpful it would be for internal Call Centers to have visibility into this information?  Or to coordinate these onsite personalizations with initiatives with Social or with Acquisition initiatives?  
  4. It is related to #3 above, impression management.  If you are using Adobe Target to show digital consumers an offer through an Activity, you can control in Target how many times they see it.  This is better served in a CDP where you can coordinate impressions of ‘offers’ or content at a macro level across channels and mediums.  

MiaProva and CDPs

The customers of MiaProva that use CDPs as part of their personalization and testing efforts are increasingly using the data the facilitate Customer Journey Optimization. Customer Journey Optimization is where organizations have testing roadmaps with targeted testing and personalization, advancing customers across their various customer journeys.

MiaProva supports those efforts by way of our MiaProva workstreams, where we automate the management of metrics, segments, tickets, activities, and ROI based on these workstreams – making it more efficient to advance the throughput of these efforts.

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