32 Real US College Students Develop Google Cloud’s Explosive March Madness Campaign

Google Cloud launched its NCAA March Madness activation on 15 March with a data led college hoops campaign that features genuine students and which focuses on the tournament’s ‘explosive’ nature.


As the official cloud computing partner of the NCAA enters the second year of its March Madness sponsorship the company recruited 32 authentic student developers to help it develop interesting, insightful tournament predictions through a fresh lens.


The students participate in a hackathon, working alongside Google Cloud data scientist mentors with the aim of using cloud technology to take a fresh look at March Madness through data.


The spearhead launch spot – called the ‘Student Developers Anthem’ and focusing on the idea of ‘explosiveness’ – debuted on air on so called ‘Selection Sunday’ (18 March) when the tournament future line-up is released.


The shows students brainstorming in front of computers while the duck mascot of the University of Oregon skips through the office and dunks a toy basketball.


The spot’s narration says: “This March Madness, see how Google Cloud student developers are using data to analyze games all tournament long.”



“The concept of ‘explosiveness’ – or when the announcer says, ‘This team is really explosive’ – the students went in to figure out what goes into that,” said Google Cloud chief marketing officer Alison Wagonfeld.


“From a campaign standpoint, it is phenomenal because it shows how easy and accessible Google Cloud is,” Wagonfield added.


The campaign, which was created in harness with San-Francisco-based agency, also includes supporting online video and social content




which all aim to drive viewers to learn more at the campaign landing page – which showcases various different student predictions and training programs for both newcomers and veterans of its platform – at g.co/marchmadness


The partnership activation also promotes Google Cloud’s services through the NCAA’s platforms in order to further increase brand awareness and product knowledge.


Google Cloud is also leveraging its NCAA partnership to promote Qwiklabs: its online training program that aims to help both newcomers and veterans of its platform learn the tools of the trade and gain certification.




While Google Cloud was a late entrant into the cloud arena, behind rivals such as Amazon AWS and Microsoft Azure – Wagonfeld says that the NCAA partnership its part of its plan to close the gap on the market leaders by engaging students who will then help Google Cloud grow organically as students prepare to enter the workforce.


“When companies are choosing their cloud providers they go to their developers,” Wagonfeld explained.


“Given the importance of developers, many of these students go on to become just that.”


Google isn’t the only tech giant adopted this strategy.


Indeed, perhaps unsurprisingly for the USA’s top college sports property, Google isn’t the only tech brand that loves to leverage March Madness: for example, another stand out recent example was Adobe’s 2018 ‘Hack The Bracket’ campaign (see case study).


This year’s Google Cloud work follows on from the brand’s 2018 AI/machine learning led activation which revolved around turning 80 years of NCAA official college basketball data into useful and actionable insights for fans (see case study).


While Wagonfeld declined to share the specific statistics and data on the success of the 2018 campaign, she did say that it reached 78% of its target audience (IT decision makers or C-suite executives), whilst also increasing its consideration among the demographic by 11%.


Whilst not all directly related to the NCAA partnership, in 2018 Google Cloud more than doubled both the number of deals it made while also increasing the number of $100 million-plus deals it signed.




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