Spotlight on: GrubHub’s Barbara Martin Coppola

Barbara Martin Coppola shares her vision for GrubHub, as well the experiences at Samsung and Google that helped her reach the coveted status of CMO.

As chief marketing officer (CMO) for online food-ordering service GrubHub, Barbara Martin Coppola borrows from her extensive marketing experiences with Google and Samsung. Now, she’s looking to make a few changes in order to attract even more new users and increase the ordering frequency of the existing ones.

The art and science of marketing

Marketing guarantees business growth at GrubHub, according to Coppola. Given that GrubHub has around 6.5 million active diners and 35,000 registered restaurants globally, one area she hopes to improve is connecting the platform’s national efficiency with localization.

This requires GrubHub to enhance its local targeting capabilities to reach specific markets. A regional marketer in Philadelphia, for example, works with the central marketing team to produce assets for local campaigns, serving personalized recommendations for a user a few times a day based on his or her zip code.

“It’s a matter of leveraging national resources and playing them at a local level,” explains Coppola.


Data is the backbone of the above marketing enhancements. With data science, GrubHub can do better at targeting and engaging at the micro-moments that are important to diners, according to Coppola. GrubHub knows diners’ preferences, such as what restaurants they frequent and what dishes they usually order. In return, the platform will offer its users better recommendations.

“We’ve hired lots of data scientists to make our platform smarter. Being smarter means being more relevant and timely. For example, we trigger weather alerts before it starts raining and send the alert to diners who usually order more when it’s cold. This initiative largely drives conversion,” says Coppola.

Aside from building a data science-driven marketing competency in-house, Coppola is looking to add more personality and authenticity to GrubHub through social media. Going forward, Coppola’s team will keep experimenting with new ad formats on social, including Instagram’s Carousel Ads, as well as nurturing strong relationships with Facebook and Twitter.

More importantly, GrubHub will also be producing more video content with its agencies of record: BBH in New York City and Folio in London.

“I strongly believe in video. I worked at YouTube for two years so I know how much conversion and engagement brands can get out of video content,” Coppola says.


Ironically, Coppola’s strong belief in digital seems to contradict the statement from Matt Maloney, GrubHub’s chief executive (CEO), who told Market Watch in 2014 (before Coppola joined the company) that the platform planned to switch its marketing from digital to TV. In his interview, Maloney said, “Most diners are not online looking for restaurants” and “TV provides an existing channel to target new customers.”

Coppola, however, doesn’t think it’s an “either or” solution. Instead, she believes TV and digital complement one other.

“TV has a role to play. But I strongly believe that digital provides an authentic way to create better engagement and craft conversations with consumers. We can clearly use different channels and maximize their effects,” she says.

Obviously, Coppola managed to sell her vision and plan to the CEO.

Her years at Google and Samsung

One of the few GrubHub executives with international experience, Coppola started her marketing career at Texas Instruments in Japan, where she managed profit and loss of the company and tripled the business’s revenue. Coppola then acquired an MBA from INSEAD in Fontainebleau, France, before getting a job in Samsung’s central marketing department in South Korea.

There, Coppola’s team elevated the company from second place to first in the TV space by switching the brand message from pixels and colors to product aesthetics and design. One fundamental principle Coppola learned from Samsung, which she is also executing at GrubHub, is to under-promise and over-deliver.

“I learned modesty when I worked for Samsung in Korea. Applying this philosophy to our communications at GrubHub, we are not going to promise the world how great our products and services are. Instead, we want to let consumers decide how good our business is,” says Coppola.

While it was exciting to learn management and marketing skills at Samsung, Coppola wanted to delve deeper into the tech world. So she returned to France and joined Google.


At the time, Google was far from an advertising powerhouse: it ranked first in search, second in video and third in maps. Coppola’s team was responsible for making Google No. 1 in all categories by executing local marketing and connecting with French agencies.

As her Google career took off, Coppola was relocated to the tech giant’s Mountain View headquarters. She first joined Chromecast and was eventually transferred to YouTube, where her team created a mobile download record on the iPhone.

“There’s an obsession with consumers at Google,” Coppola recalls. “It’s really about getting to know the user very well and never compromising any decisions that do not benefit the user. This principle is very important for me and I want to bring it to GrubHub, as well.”

In addition to putting consumers first, Coppola is implementing another three Google principles at GrubHub. The first is a 20/80 testing strategy where 20 percent of the marketing budget goes to experimenting with new platforms and 80 percent is dedicated to optimizing existing channels.


The second principle is democracy of ideas: a good leader knows how to empower his or her team. And the third is doing, rather than thinking.

“At Google, it’s really important to make a decision at the very beginning and move forward. The idea may not be perfect, but you can learn by doing and adjust it. Such mentality brings speed to the business,” explains Coppola.

Going forward, she hopes GrubHub can continue being action-driven when the platform is scaling its business.

“I’ve seen so many companies waiting too long to take action,” she says. “The tech world is moving fast so I think we need to adapt to the speed in order to stay relevant.”

To hear more from GrubHub, make sure you join us on the beach in Miami for our upcoming Connect conference  where Alex Cohen, GrubHub’s senior manager, Acquisition Marketing, will be giving us the lowdown on reshaping mobile advertising. It should be a good’un!

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