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The Google Challenge: Educating the Next Generation of Search Marketers



Now, you won’t hear me trumpet Google’s praises all that often, but I will say that I’m really thrilled to see Google lead the way to help students learn more about search marketing. Google has partnered with professors across the world to introduce college students to search engine marketing with the Google Online Marketing Challenge. It’s a win-win for Google — it potentially exposes new companies to Google AdWords and it exposes the next generation of marketers to Google AdWords.

Over a three week period, students will have a $200 budget, provided by Google, to use towards the PPC advertising for their selected client. The competition has three main components: 1) the pre-campaign strategy, 2) campaign management, and 3) post-campaign analysis. Students will create and manage AdWords accounts for their selected client, selecting keywords, writing ads and monitoring clicks. Google, in turn, will evaluate all of the challenge teams on a set of 30 criteria (many of which are top secret), including measurements like click through rate. There will be global and regional winners; the grand prize is a week-long trip to the Googleplex in Mountain View, Ca. (Now I want to enter! I need a vacation!)

Yesterday, I visited an Internet marketing class at my alma mater –James Madison University — that is taking part in the Google Challenge. The semester has only just begun, so many of the students have not yet been exposed to the world of search marketing. As we talked in class, it was definitely exciting to see them asking compelling questions about topics ranging from “how does PPC work” to “how do you measure PPC success”. It also encourages me that Google is undertaking this initiative to expose more students to search marketing before they graduate.

One challenge I’ve found as the owner of a search marketing firm (and I’m sure Google faces as well) is that there are just not enough college students who are being exposed today to Internet marketing, much less search marketing, which I blogged about on my own blog yesterday. Unfortunately, there just are not many colleges and universities offering Internet marketing classes. Our intern last summer told me that her school (a major state school in Virginia known for its business graduates) only mentioned search marketing as little more than a footnote in her marketing classes.

As today’s marketing students enter the workforce, they are at a disadvantage in their first marketing jobs. As traditional forms of media see declines in marketing spend year over year as online marketing continues to increase at a breakneck pace, college graduates need to be able to, at minimum, be able to understand even the basic terminology and benefits of online marketing. Fortunately for search marketers, Google has taken up the torch to help these students really compete in the real world of marketing — not the theoretical world of marketing found in traditional college marketing textbooks.

  • http://www.jaankanellis.com Jaan Kanellis

    This is pretty old news Janet:

    http://www.jaankanellis.com/google-growing-adwords-buyers-young/

    One thing to comment on is that in the long run these types of moves are simply to help the Google bottom line through PPC advertising.

  • http://www.ychange.com Small Business Marketing

    Wish one didn’t have to be an academic to participate. It is extremely interesting that Google states “Developed by professors in collaboration with Google, the Challenge is a great opportunity for students to gain practical, real world online marketing experience.” How can professors help anyone get practical real world experience when they are locked up in “academia”
    Let’s get real Google.

  • http://www.xianhong.net Xianhong

    This is the first time that i heard “Developed by professors in collaboration with Google”, i guess adwords is most important to google, It can earn lots of money for Google.

  • http://www.taxidrivermarketing.com Daan Jansonius

    I think this is a great initiative from Google. I can see people’s reservations of ‘academic’ getting involved, but I think that’s besides the point.

    It’s all about getting students (and sme’s) more involved in online marketing.

    I for one applaud the initiative….and which is why I signed up. I’m competing in a team of five on behalf of Bournemouth University (UK)

    You can follow our progress here:

    http://tinyurl.com/3xjxuv

  • http://www.search-mojo.com Janet Driscoll Miller

    Jaan,

    Glad you were able to post on this earlier on, but Google did just release the official press release yesterday on their site: http://www.google.com/intl/en/press/annc/online_marketing_challenge.html

    I can only assume they waited this long because they maybe are trying to reach a few more students now that most schools’ spring semesters have recently begun. Who knows… I personally think they should have officially released the news sooner.

    Janet

  • http://www.jaankanellis.com Jaan Kanellis

    Thanks for the update Janet

  • http://www.theratingblog.com Alan Johnson

    While universities are not offering internet marketing classes, a lot of students explore this field themselves. I know that’s the case with my son: he is not even in college yet but he has gained some impressive knowledge as far as internet marketing is concerned and that will prove to be a huge advantage in the long run.

    Alan Johnson