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Planning For Target Migration From at.js to Web SDK




by @MatthewMarseglia & @chrismdavis 


Customer readiness when migrating Adobe Target to the Adobe Experience Platform Web SDK is typically characterized by time spent identifying go live use cases, starting new workflows, and socializing changes to data structures.


Figure 1 - Identifying your go live use cases is as simple as picking low hanging fruit

Identifying Your Go Live Use Cases

Pick the 3 Adobe Target use cases that matter most for your business and use them to drive the migration to Adobe Experience Platform.  Here are examples of use cases of Adobe Target on Platform Web SDK.


Use case

Same-page Personalization

Targeting New Visitors who have not previously visited any page on your site, and you would like or show them different Prospecting messages

Next-page Personalization

Targeting Return Visitors who have visited at least 1 page on your site, and you would like to understand whether their behavior indicates some form of intent

Next-session Personalization

Targeting Return Visitors with previous visit patterns and you would like to understand whether their behavior is similar or different than your high value customers and show them relevant messages


Your data architect’s fluency with your use cases and documentation is going to be heavily relied on here to make certain the Adobe Experience Platform (AEP) datastreams, schema, and datasets to support these are in place.

If they discover they need to add a new dataset then this tutorial about activating audiences for edge personalization destinations will help explain the steps.  Once they are added then make certain your Tags rules have the decisionScopes in place.  Your developer will want to review this tutorial about rendering visual personalization decisions if they need to add new rules to Tags.

Next, when building the 3 Target activities, I would suggest validating their targeting audiences and profile attributes separately from their Target experiences and offers.  Using the Adobe Experience Platform Debugger to view the events, decisionScopes and propositions for each Target activity will help you make sure of your targeting.  Once you know you are qualifying for each of the targeting audiences then using Activity QA URL’s for each activity experience will help you make sure you are showing the intended messages and experiences. 

There are two questions that can help you scope out what goes into your use cases versus what gets put into a future release, post migration.  When deciding feature requirements for your Platform Web SDK migration, ask yourself: "Is this feature one that we use today?"


Figure 2 - What goes into your use cases versus what gets put into a future release?

It is vital to properly document, prioritize and socialize the features that have "no" answers.  Having this certainty will help drive the work that goes into the migration, the roadmap, timelines, and resource assignments.

Differences in Library Features

There are two main Adobe Target features in the at.js library that are absent from the Platform Web SDK alloy.js library, Data Providers and Custom Events. This does not mean you cannot achieve a similar functionality with Platform Web SDK though.

Historically, at.js supported a feature called Data Providers. This offered a section of the at.js library to include functions that make requests to third-party services. In effect, this worked by delaying the at.js request until all Data Provider functions returned. This can give the appearance of Target having much higher latency.  However, AEP's philosophy is that all data flows through a central Platform, which is at odds with how Data Providers works.  It may be a little extra effort to migrate Data Provider functions to Platform, but the centralization of data is one of the features that makes the alloy.js library super flexible.  Additionally, you get the added benefit of having data that was historically siloed to Target now available in other AEP applications.

Adobe Target at.js library offers custom events that listen to library events and activity code. There are a number of them, and a significant difference between at.js and alloy.js is that you are working solely with the sendEvent function for Target.  Data Collection features a Send Event Complete event which allows you to programmatically work with Platform Web SDK responses in separate rules.  Adobe Experience League has many tutorials and documentation that will help your developer improve their fluency with these methods.

Supporting Documentation

The work to migrate to Platform Web SDK will generate a data dictionary that contains all the data points that are included in the Experience Data Model (XDM) object.

This document will be referred to by your data architect, developer and even yourself to help answer questions like: "We want a personalization that can do XYZ - does the XDM object in its current state support that?"  To answer this question your data architect could either refer to the Schema UI or your data in 1 of 3 of the following ways:


Figure 3 - Answering whether your current XDM object supports your use cases

Your data architect, developer, business stakeholder and digital marketer will spend typically a day to identify their use cases and then determine whether the XDM object supports them. 



Use Case

Same-page personalization

Targeting New Visitors who have not previously visited any page on your site, but have been referred to your site with a trackingCode and you would like to show Prospecting messages then you would ensure the Campaign Marketing Details schema enabled

Next-page personalization

Targeting Return Visitors who have visited a Product Details page on your site, and you like to understand their intent and personalize their Next-page visit with messaging about the Product Category they visited then you would ensure the Experience Event schema had Category and Product page visits

Next-session personalization

Retargeting Return Visitors with previous visits to your Shopping Cart, Account creation or Subscription forms but left your site and you would like to show messages about Products abandoned in the Cart, or benefits of opening an account or subscribing then you would ensure the Category and Product schema were enabled



Figure 4 - Getting your ducks in a row is as simple as 1,2,3

Starting New Workflows

Upgrade Services from Adobe Consulting can reduce your time to value by 4 - 6 weeks and one of the first questions that you will be asked is access to your instance of AEP.  With just a few clicks your administrator can grant access within the Adobe Admin Console.  If your organization requires background security checks or vendor worker onboarding, then these steps could be completed before the migration project kick off and prioritized.

A second question that you will be ask is access to your lower environments, so if login credentials or VPN software are needed to access those environments then completing this step next would be your next priority.  If you are already working with Adobe Consultants, then simply keeping them on for the migration project would help transfer knowledge and skip having to ask again for access. 

Lastly a third question you will be asked is your current implementation documentation.  This documentation becomes invaluable to your project team who is building your go live use cases.  If your documentation is a lacking, then that is all well as long as you can answer “Yes” to questions above.

Finally, learning by doing is always encouraged, and Adobe Consulting can help by building sample sandboxes with Adobe Target on your lower environments.  Target use cases can then be built and set Live on these environments to reinforce your team’s understanding.  You can easily make copies of everything on a lower environment to see how it works with AEP.  To get ready for this paradigm shift a recommended approach for migration projects is to build and learn on sandboxes, validate on them first and then promote changes up to production sandboxes and environments.


Figure 5 - Paradigm shift for your digital organization involves learning

Changes to Data Structures

There are two concepts that are crucial to understanding how Adobe Target on Platform Web SDK is different, and they are Datastreams and the XDM object.

Target is added to Datastreams within AEP and is configured to make requests to a specified Datastream. When using Target properties, this now happens in the Datastream configuration.

The XDM object is a new concept designed for AEP. Now that all Adobe solutions are rolled up from their various independent libraries ( at.js for Target, AppMeasurement.js for Analytics ) into alloy.js the standardized format was designed by Adobe with this purpose in mind.  Think of it as a large data lake, the source of truth for Adobe Target and AEP applications like Real-Time Customer Data Platform.  And your digital organization will need to comprehend how they are going to maintain and expand the XDM object post migration. 

The XDM object is the new home for custom mbox parameters, parameters that give the current Target requests context.  Additionally, profile parameters, parameters that give context about the current user and entity parameters that support Target Recommendations are now communicated to Target as part of the freeform data object.  Mapping every data point to the XDM object without being mindful of its Target use cases will overcomplicate the XDM object and grow your timelines to go live.  Before you start on the migration project be sure to raise your awareness of the differences between at.js and Platform Web SDK.

Dedicated Team Members

When assembling your migration project team, consider factors like dedicated resources, relevant project experience, and technical expertise.  Resourcing a full-time data architect at the start of the project is crucial.  They will be busy transforming your data sources into XDM and mapping profiles and attributes to your personalization destination, Adobe Target.  Having the requirements for the 3 use cases understood by the team will be essential.  And, if you have team members trying to learn AEP and implement it simultaneously then timelines will grow.  Documenting all the requirements for your migration before the kickoff would ideal however they could also be written in parallel.

Socializing the 3 use cases for go live to the rest of the digital organization and adequately informing your business stakeholders will be essential.  Aim for a 4 - 8 member team but no more, and elect rotating spokespersons for the team.  Allow your data architect, developer, business stakeholder and digital marketer decision making authority of how and when to run the 3 use cases.

Digital Marketing That is More Timely

You are already fluent with Adobe Target’s capabilities and are running personalization strategies today.  You also know which of your current use cases matter most to your business.  Picking the 3 of them to drive the migration project of Adobe Target to the Adobe Experience Platform Web SDK is as simple as picking low hanging fruit.  Documenting your requirements and understanding the differences in library features will make it clear to your project team whether your current XDM object can supports these initial use cases.  Having this certainty will not only keep your project on time, and it will also help socialize incoming changes to your digital organization.  Finishing the migration of Target to Web SDK is just the first step to running more sophisticated personalization.

Stay tuned for future pieces on the subject, and if you enjoyed the graphics abstracting idioms into visuals, you can check out Adobe Firefly to try it out for yourself!


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