Google’s ‘Art, Copy, & Code’ Aims To Bridge Classic Ad Inspiration And Real-Time Marketing

By concentrating on moments of engagement, marketers can make sense of the infinite range of consumers’ choices.

Google's Elise Birkhofer
Google’s Elise Birkhofer (photo credit: Jennifer L Gonzeles)

During a presentation at the 4A’s CreateTech conference, Google’s Mike Glaser and Elise Birkhofer offered a look at the search giant’s approach to mixing the creative inspiration associated with Mad Men-era placements and the data-driven targeting that is what advertising is chiefly known for today.

To illustrate their point, Glaser and Birkhofer, who serve as senior product marketing manager and marketing manager, respectively, showed the process for how Google created online ads during this past year’s Academy Awards broadcast just seconds after the winners were announced. Their message: The more customers believe that your brand is there with them in real time, the more it will be viewed as a fun or necessary complement to their lives.

GeoMarketing: What is the overarching idea behind “Art, Copy, & Code?”

Mike Glaser: Art, Copy, & Code is both a team and a marketing initiative within Google. The name references the Mad Men-era of advertising, when art directors and copywriters first started working closely together, leading to some of the most iconic and influential pieces of advertising.

In the digital age, of course, new skills are required to make effective advertising, and we believe the creative engineer, or “coder,” is now a vital part of the core creative team. Together, these three disciplines — art, copy, and code — are building new brand experiences that were never before possible. And not just at Google, of course, but at forward thinking brands and agencies all over the world.

One of the themes your presentation explored was the centrality of mobile and how the idea of the “second screen” is so embedded in consumer behavior, particularly during high profile television events like the Academy Awards. While there have been exceptional uses of real-time marketing with social media by brands during major broadcasts, how can mobile search provide value for brands during those TV moments?

Elise Birkhofer: When people think of real-time marketing, they often think of social media and how to reach consumers during high-profile TV events. But Nielsen research shows that twice as many people are searching for TV show related information as are reading about it on social media. At Google, we call these the “I-want-to-know” micro-moments, and they present a huge opportunity for marketers.

Google's Mike Glaser
Google’s Mike Glaser (photo credit: Jennifer L Gonzeles)

Ironically, real-time marketing requires some prep work in advance. You need to think about what sort of things you might be able to predict, and plan ahead. Google Trends is a really powerful tool, showing us the questions and topics people care about. You can even explore minute-by-minute, real-time data behind the more than 100 billion searches that take place on Google every month.

The starting point of our project with Google Play at the Oscars was looking at Search behavior during past award shows. We noticed that people search for movies immediately after each award is announced on TV, and each peak lasts about 10-15 minutes. Betting that people would have similar behavior this year, we planned our creative and media strategy around this insight. We ended up creating display ads that congratulated movies the instant they won in the live TV broadcast, and served them in real-time across entertainment sites and apps in the Google Display Network.

Real-time marketing can just as easily be about the simple day-to-day, though. Try asking, “What could my product offer at this moment?” At Google, we’ve been trying to create useful, compelling ads that use the “power of now” to connect meaningfully with people, in a moment that matters to them. For example, a recent project with Waze shared real-time, local traffic updates right within a mobile ad — bringing a bit of the app’s magic out of the app itself.

Google Now can “anticipate” a range of things, from letting users know when to leave for the airport to providing up-to-the minute reports on stocks, sports scores, weather, and more. How is the idea of prediction likely to impact brands’ wider marketing needs?

MG: Investments in machine learning and artificial intelligence are allowing companies like Google to build amazing new consumer experiences like Google Now. And for all of us in the marketing and advertising industry, technologies like this set a new bar for what consumers expect from brands and businesses, mainly that advertising must also be timely, relevant, and valuable.

The way we approach this in Google Marketing is to always put the user first — to identify a key human insight, often by looking at Search behavior via tools like Google Trends, and to find ways that we can add value to people’s lives through our products’ unique benefits. Elise mentioned how we are doing this with our Waze team, by providing up-to-the-minute traffic reports in ads. Similarly, our Google Search team is running a campaign that provides users with highly relevant information — hourly weather forecasts, and information about nearby restaurants and attractions — all in ads that are updated dynamically in real-time.

About The Author
David Kaplan David Kaplan @davidakaplan

A New York City-based journalist for over 20 years, David Kaplan is managing editor of A former editor and reporter at AdExchanger, paidContent, Adweek and MediaPost.