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.