Since I’m an optimist I try to imagine they do it mainly to encourage innovation and better solutions to the world’s problems both on and offline. Even if that’s not the whole story, it’s very feel good. It infuses a sense of fun and open-mindedness since they are always a bit quirky are aimed a broad age and range of people.
Contests can be a good way to get things done and you don’t have to fly people to company headquarters either. Guy Kawasaki got his book cover designed by running a contest.
Here is a list of some Google contests (feel free to fill me in on any I’ve missed):
- Google Highly Open Participation Contest
- Doodle 4 Google competition
- Google Moon Contest
- Build Your Campus in 3D Competition!
- Google Desktop Gadget Contest
Here’s another Google contest for college students who want to assist local businesses about online marketing. It’s called the Online Marketing Challenge.
Here are some details for the Online Marketing Challenge:
- It was developed with college professors around the world
- Students get $200 worth of free advertising dollars to spend on a campaign
- Groups of students find local businesses to run an internet marketing strategy
- Starts in February 2008 and participants run the campaign on a three week timeframe
If you teach a college course (this makes me want to actually) this is a great way to give students practical experience on Google’s dime. The contest winners get a trip to the Googleplex and get to meet the developers of Google AdWords. Probably some swag too. No cash, but a bit of fun.