Looking for an image, but cannot find one? Key in a text description and voila, the system throws up stunning creations, from abstract to real. Want to edit the visual? Just key in a few text commands like change colour or background and it’s done. What’s more, it tells you about the copyrights. Meet Firefly, Adobe’s highly visual entry into the generative artificial intelligence space and which is currently in beta mode. Firefly was unveiled in Las Vegas at the Adobe Summit, the spectacular annual digital experience conference the tech major holds every year for the marketing and tech (martech) community.

While artificial intelligence took front and centre stage at the event, there were many other takeaways from the event, marked by scintillating keynotes and fireside chats on content, storytelling and the power of technology with the likes of Eli Lilly CEO David Ricks, AMD CEO Lisa Su, Prudential Financial CMO Susan Somersille Johnson, screenwriter and director Aaron Sorkin (of The Social Network and A Few Good Men fame), and NFL star Damar Hamlin.

Here are some picks:

Content is the heart of digital

All the conversations highlighted one thing: consumers expect every company to be digital first today and content is what is fuelling digital experiences. But with so many platforms to engage with customers, marketers just cannot keep pace when it comes to creating engaging content at every touchpoint. According to Adobe it’s here that artificial intelligence comes in, acting as a helper to speed up the velocity of content creation.

For marketers, the content creation has to be led by data and insights which allows for personalisation at scale. Can this be done very rapidly? Oh yes, it can. To illustrate the mindboggling speed at which a campaign can be created, a demo was shown using Adobe Sensei Gen AI services (of which Firefly is now a part). The insight from data was that more women were travelling solo. In next to no time, powered by AI, the system generates content for a “Go it Alone” campaign with a woman sailing with the tagline—“All You Need is You”. The next insight is that an emerging trend has been detected indicating a preference for sustainable travel among solo travellers, and if used this could result in more bookings. At once, literally at the click of the mouse, there is a shift in messaging to “Go Your Own Way” and a new image that shows a woman with a backpack cycling in an eco-friendly place.

Firefly’s home page

Firefly’s home page

Responsible AI is key

The demo was certainly compelling and illustrated Adobe CEO Shantanu Narayen’s words during his keynote that “Every piece of content has to be delivered to the right person, at the right time to drive engagement and value.”

But both Narayen, and Adobe CTO of digital media, Ely Greenfield, were at pains to stress that AI will be just a co-pilot in the content creation and creative journey and not a replacement. “Machine learning and AI are powerful but also require a really thoughtful approach that can amplify and not replace human creativity,” said Narayen. “Today’s buzzword is AI, but it also needs an ethical and responsible approach,” he stressed, describing the many safeguards, including a content authenticity initiative in which hundreds of companies are collaborating.

A content supply chain

What was striking at the event was how Adobe views the whole digital content process. At one end is the creator making content. At the other end is the delivery of this content and receipt by the consumer. But the process of making and delivering content is usually not seamless, being prone to disconnected workflows, teams and systems that often break down. To address this, a new launch from Adobe is a content supply chain which makes content flow from production to delivery effortless. Talking about how the solution will optimise both content process and performance, Amit Ahuja, Senior Vice President, Adobe Experience Cloud platform, said, “Our new Content Supply Chain solution will support brands in delivering powerful experiences that translate to business value—transforming how they compete for both customers and talent.”

Firefly’s image gallery

Firefly’s image gallery

Real time marketing insights

Content without data is meaningless in delivering effective campaigns and there were sessions on how personalisation at scale can be achieved through real time CDP (customer data platform) that uses first party data. As repeatedly stressed by speakers, the era of cookies and third party data is over with most web browsers including Google Chrome saying they will shut them out by 2024. In his keynote, Narayen described how Adobe processes 30 trillion audience segment evaluations every day across brands using Real Time CDP and delivers over 600 billion predictive insights every year. Describing how this has helped clients like Chipotle unlock the full funnel, Ryan Fleisch, Head of Product Marketing for Real Time CDP and Audience Manager said Adobe is now launching use case playbooks for brands to figure out which data to leverage for which use case.

It’s all about Partnerships

Finally, one thing that emerged from the Summit and especially touring the expo zone where companies like Infosys, TCS, Dentsu, Publicis Sapient, et al were demonstrating their wares, was that the technology world rides heavily on partnership and collaborations. For instance, Narayen talked about Adobe’s R& D partnership with Nvidia to co-develop even more advanced generative AI models. Or take the way multiple tech companies have come together to unite data, content and processes. Perhaps the most touching tribute to technology partnerships was at the TCS booth where the Tata company showcased a gift—a saree crafted on a “bridgital” loom—that it had specially created for its partner Adobe on its 40th birthday party using Adobe tools. But the Adobe saree and the “bridgital” loom is a story in itself for later.

The writer was in Las Vegas at the invitation of Adobe