[This article was posted on the official Facebook page of Google Online Marketing Challenge]
In Spring 2013, all Carlow MBA students taking the MBA724 Research course participated in Google Online Marketing Challenge (GOMC), a global competition sponsored by the Google AdWords program with thousands of students from around the world designing and operating online advertisements for small business or non-profit organizations of their choices.
Working with Professors Rachel Chung, PhD, and Lala Ambadar, PhD, 30 MBA students created and ran online ads for seven clients organizations for three weeks, with $250 funds from Google for each organization. These clients are: Fresenius Medical Care North American (FMCNA), The Marilyn G. Rabb (MGR) Foundation, Ground Up Builders & Remodelers LLC, Peace Love and Little Donuts, AllFacilities Energy Group, Skyline Chiropractic & Sports Medicine, LLC, and Health First Chiropractic.
Students developed many valuable skills in this course. Not only did they have to understand principles of online advertising, which are very different from its traditional counterparts, they also had to apply principles of sound experimental design and research methods to conduct online experiments and use data analytics to determine optimal campaign designs for their clients. By working with real clients, real dollars from Google, and real business problems, students were able to apply abstract concepts and principles to a series of intrinsically motivating assignments.
Many students found this learning experience to be valuable both academically and professionally. Lea Steadman found her experience running the AdWords campaign for the MGR Foundation to be rewarding professionally: “Participating in the GOMC allows students to understand the way business research contributes to an organization. Well planned and executed research is fundamental to an organization’s innovation. In regard to professional development, ideas from GOMC can be taken and implemented by a student’s employer or other organization they are involved with. Before the start of this project I had littel to no experience with Google AdWords software, by participating in GOMC I have realize that it can be an asset to any organization. “
Students who operated the AdWords campaign for Peace Love and Little Donuts got more than free donuts from this experience: “Participating in this challenge has afforded me the opportunity to develop my skills in research more and to also apply these skills I am learning to future advertising needs of other organizations I am involved in. The challenge has allowed me to also see a side of businesses that I may not have normally considered,” said Brandi Hudson. Nakia Smith agreed: “The Google Marketing Challenge has taught about a field in the business industry that I did not know existed. I have learned how business are able to track the demographics of traffic that visits there website, allowing them to see if there is an area to improve on. I plan on obtaining the Google AdWords certification in the near future.”
When MBA students happen to be business owners, they get the extra benefit of using the GOMC experience as an opportunity to pilot a new marketing approach at no cost. “As the owner of Ground Up Builders & Remodelers LLC., I have found the Google Online Marketing Challenge to be invaluable for not only my continued education, but also as a tool to help promote my construction company. GOMC has given me insight into what consumers are looking for and how to best position my organization for success. The marketing skills we are developing will be invaluable for future endeavors. Dr. Chung has given her students a tremendous opportunity to grow and develop personally and professionally,” said Patricial Thiel, owner of Ground Up Builders & Remodelers LLC. Other students found it valuable to work with a real business owner through this process: “The GOMC encourages us to work together in a group and create an experiment with a live online advertisement. Our experience is unique in that we are creating an advertisement for a company that Trish Thiel, one of our group members owns! This builds the excitement so much more because we are learning about business while promoting a read business with results that we will actually be able to see” said Mike Donohoe.
“Participating in the Google Online Marketing Challenge has been very enlightening. I am particularly enthusiastic about the opportunity to acquire exceptionally beneficial skills that are up to date and applicable in a variety of professional settings,” said Ben Saunders who was on the Ground Up Builders & Remodelers team. “The GOMC Challenge has been such an exciting and wonderful
experience. To have the opportunity to learn new advertising methods and help a local business grow is such a good feeling. This experience has helped me expand my view of the online marketing world and realize how effective this type of advertising can be for this generation,” said Melanie Byrom, also on the same team. “The Google Online Marketing Challenge has opened my eyes to the power of online marketing. I plan to use my experience to bring value to my career,” said Nora Sueher, a a marketing professional by trade, also on the same team.
One team was able to work with Carlow MBA’s current Executive-In-Residence Anita Brattina on ad campaigns for the company she created – AllFacilities Energy Group. MBA student Manika Kumari who led this team throughout the campaign effort said: “My experience with GOMC has been really amazing so far. It is a great opportunity to learn and practically understand the concepts and tools related to digital marketing.” Her teammate Joanne M Kavulick agreed: “The challenge has been an important project to all of us. In some way or another, Google affects everyone. It is amazing to see how search engines work and how we can manipulate search engines with keywords.” The team has presented their findings to CEO Brattina, and has been scheduled to present their work to the senior leadership team of the company later this month.
Kathleen Ann Sikora summed up the students experience well: “I found the Google Adwords Challenge one of the most interesting experiments I’ve ever done. I think it is a wonderful opportunity to use an established advertising medium in a real world situation. Not only did we get to use the statistical tools we’ve learned throughout the semester, we had an opportunity to offer a legitimate company additional advertising. Reflecting back on our experience, I wish we would have chosen a small, nonprofit agency instead of a big company, where we may have done more good. I also thought the book was a great resource for research methods. Some of the techniques were over my head for this course, but I have new respect for statistics. “
Clients have reported immediate impacts of these online ads. The phone has been ringing, and new businesses are coming through thanks to the online ads Carlow MBA students have created!