Google Cloud doubles down on its New York Times campaign

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Google Cloud is pushing forward with its third campaign this year, as the company grapples with informing potential clients about what its technology can actually achieve.

Earlier this month, the company released a four-minute video showing how the New York Times is using Google Cloud to digitally archive some 6 to 8 million photos that date back more than a century, all of which are stored in "the morgue," or in the storied publication's basement. Many of the images have "never seen the light of day," the Times says, adding that each picture also has unique details written on the back.

Google is now expanding the Times campaign with a new round of ads using out-of-home, digital video and print.

"A lot of what we are focusing on Google Cloud is helping build awareness about what we can do for businesses and we want to do that in ways that is relatable to the broader population," says Alison Wagonfeld, VP of marketing at Google Cloud. "It's important to do that with CIOs and CTOs, but we also more generally want to be marketing to business leaders and people in companies who want to use Google Cloud to solve technology problems."

Although cynics will likely point out that Google is simply scanning and adding photos to the cloud, Wagonfeld argues that its machine learning tech and artificial intelligence do more than that.

In one 30-second spot created by San Francisco-based agency Eleven, Google shows a picture of Broad Street in New York's Financial District. At first glance, it appears the photo is of a Christmas tree, but a narrator quickly points out how Google technology identified flags flying at half-staff along several buildings.

"Is this just a photo of a Christmas tree?" a narrator asks. "The Cloud can help us discover more, like flags at half-staff to honor 33rd president Harry S. Truman, who passed away two days before this photo was taken."

Both Wagonfeld and The Times say the treasure-trove of photos, along with insights, will later be accessible to reporters for news stories. The companies have not said when this will happen.

Google will also promote an interactive microsite built by Instrument that tells the story behind several images from The Times, an out-of-home efforts that uses AR tech to allow consumers to learn more about any given image while they wait for the train, for example.

Demystifying the cloud

Google's cloud business is faced with the dilemma of getting people to know what it actually does. Earlier this year, it ran its first-ever campaign with the NCAA during March Madness. "We think it is important to demystify data analytics and machine learning," Wagonfeld previously said. "One of the best ways to demystify the complexity is to use examples that are relatable. And the NCAA has so many examples that are relatable."

The business has two core elements to it, the first of which is helping companies store and process massive amounts of information that can then be analyzed with machine learning and AI for additional insights. The other, more popular piece of the cloud business is G-Suite, which includes productivity tools such as Gmail, Calendar, Drive and Google Docs.

The company's efforts might be working: Since the initial Times video, Wagonfeld says potential clients in oil, gas and transportation have reached out to Google's sales team about doing similar projects. She declined to share names.

Google views its cloud business as a massive area of growth, but it entered the business late when compared to rivals Microsoft and Amazon, which currently have a stronger foothold in the cloud arena.

Alphabet-owned Google does not regularly report revenue for its Cloud business, instead including it in "other revenue." In its most recent earnings, the company said other revenues for the quarter were up 29 percent year-over-year to $4.6 billion, adding that much of that was fueled by Google Cloud.

Earlier this year, Google execs gave a glimpse of its cloud business, saying it generated revenues of $1 billion per quarter.

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