One vs multiple AMCs

03 Dec 2017 » MSA

In large projects, one of the typical questions I get asked is: should we use one Adobe Marketing Cloud (AMC) or multiple? Unfortunately, there is no black or white answer here, but many shades of grey. However, in the end, you have to choose one option and this decisions is final. Let me share with you some tips to choose wisely.

I will start with a word of caution. This decision is a very important one. Once you choose one option, it is going to be very complicated and expensive to switch to the other one. In practical terms, once you make a choice, there is no turning back. Therefore, I cannot stress enough how crucial it is that you take all the time you need to think about each of the options, with its pros and cons.

And just to make things more interesting, I would like to share an example. A few years ago, I briefly helped in an implementation, where two competing companies (surprisingly) collaborated in an multi-solution project to reduce costs. This project created a common architecture, which could be used in multiple situations. In the end, one of the companies decided to go with one AMC, whereas the other used multiple AMCs.


Throughout the text below, I will use the term “sub-organisation”, for lack of a better word. What I mean with this term is any organisational unit within a big corporation, with enough freedom. Typical cases of these sub-organisations are:

  • Brands. Some big corporations are a conglomerate of brands. It is very common that each brand has its autonomy or it is run entirely as a separate company.
  • Markets. Due to differences between countries or distance between headquarters and local branches, global companies may provide a lot of autonomy to each of the local organisations. As with the previous point, I have seen cases where each market is managed by an independent company.
  • Business units. Some very large corporations create artificial divisions in the structure, where each division runs independently of the others. Or they acquire other, smaller companies to increase its size. Depending on the negotiations, the acquired company may keep its independence.

Single Adobe Marketing Cloud

You should go for one AMC if the following reasons are dominant in your considerations:

  • No sub-organisations. If you are working with a company that has only one central organisation and all digital marketing activities are managed from within this organisation, you should also centralise all your Adobe solutions in a single AMC. I would say this is the most common case. If you are in this case, you do not need to read any further.
  • Single customer view. Many digital marketing directors or CMOs have this goal: one single, central repository with all the customers. For obvious reasons, one AMC will make your life easier. In particular, you must remember that the MCID is unique per AMC. That being said, you can still have multiple AMCs and, through other tools, achieve a single customer view. However, this alternative will be more complex and expensive.
  • Share segments between sub-organisations. One of the key features of the AMC is that you can share segments between the tools easily. But, as you know, this is only possible within one AMC. Only in Adobe Audience Manager you can share segments between AMCs, and with certain limitations.
  • Single governance. It is easier to enforce your rules of usage of the Adobe tools if you have a single AMC.
  • Lower cost. In general, it is going to be cheaper to run a single AMC than multiple.

Multiple Adobe Marketing Clouds

On the other hand, you should consider multiple AMCs if the following reasons resonate in your organisation:

  • Competing sub-organisation. It is not that uncommon that a large corporation owns multiple brands. I have seen this case in CPGs, banks or car manufacturers. However, when they go to the market to sell their products, they must effectively compete against each other. the regulations might even enforce this. Therefore, they do not want the other sub-organisations to see what they are doing from a digital marketing perspective. The best way to achieve it is with separate AMCs.
  • Independent sub-organisation. Similarly to the previous case, sub-organisations have often their own budget, their own teams and do not want others to use the same tools. Or each sub-organisation has a very different configuration, totally unrelated to the rest. It also is frequent that one sub-organisation does not want other sub-organisations to be able to access its own data.
  • Multiple Adobe Target or Adobe Audience Manager instances needed. This is not very common, but not unheard of. Currently, one AMC can only have one of each. So, if you need more than one, you then need as many AMCs as ATs or AAMs you need.
  • Regulations. In some cases (typically in the FSI vertical), the law states that different sub-organisations must be totally isolated.

Hybrid model

So far, I have only recommended two options. Are there any other options? Could you combine the two previous cases into one? The answer is “yes, but”. It comes with so much overhead, complexity and governance burden, that I do not generally recommend it.

What you can do is, for each of the tools, create user groups so that a user in a group cannot see the data from the other groups. You should be aware that there are some limitations in what you can achieve with user groups. The separation will not be as sharp as with multiple AMCs and there will always be areas where no separation can be enforced.

Here you have some tips for each of the 5 main tips:

  • AEM. This is probably the most flexible option and you can probably achieve a good separation. However, you may need to add code if the user groups are complex.
  • AC/ACS. These tools offers some user groups out of the box. You can limit the access to profiles based on a field in the table.
  • AA. You can restrict access to report suite based on groups.
  • AT. Target has a new feature called workspaces, which allows to restrict access to activities based on certain rules.
  • AAM. Using various data sources, you can create groups to access only specific data sources.

Final words

As I have said, before making a decision, you should evaluate all options. You need a deep understanding of the company and the consequences of choosing each option. Check the different points I have described in this post and see towards which of the options does the train of thought lead you to. Also, remember that these are just some hints. I am sure there are other conditions to take into account.

If you have any other tip to share, please do so in the comments.

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