Business students at the Jeffery S. Raikes School of Computer Science and Management discovered the art of digital marketing by learning how to manage ad words through the web search engine most of us use every day – Google.
Rob Simon, associate professor of practice in marketing, wanted a stronger emphasis on digital marketing in the class, so he turned to the Google Online Marketing Competition as a way to engage students and improve their marketability to businesses.
“Competition always drives better learning,” Simon said. “Our students in the Raikes School are very competitive, and I felt it would benefit their other Raikes’ projects because it would add another valuable tool to use with the Google ad words.”
Students form teams that receive $250 of advertisement words by Google and apply them to a real world organization that is trying to sell products or services. The students then learn the basics of what is ‘under the hood’ of the internet giant’s search results by implementing ad words for their organization.
Chris Johnson, a senior computer science major with a minor in business from Parkville, Mo., and his team worked on behalf of the World Energy Project to help the non-profit determine which words would be most efficient to drive the right customers to their website. They measured the raw data of traffic coming to the website, and then they went further by analyzing why the particular ad was effective in bringing in the right customer.
“It’s cool to see under the surface what is really going on with keyword bidding. I thought it was all random, like spam marketers, but you can compare which ad words do better against other ads and learn how to maximize your dollars,” Johnson said.
Raikes Students Plan Digital Marketing Strategies
Eric Hess, a senior accounting and finance major from Lincoln, Neb., was the team captain on his group’s efforts to analyze the UNL MBA program’s web traffic. He noted that getting visitors to the site was not the only goal, as they wanted the right visitors.
“We wanted to exclude things that we didn’t want to be associated with our MBA program like free or cheap,” Hess said.
Christine Yost, a senior who is from Omaha, Neb. and is also minoring in business as a computer science major, worked with Johnson on the World Energy Project.
“This is my favorite class project,” Yost said. “It’s something practical we can use because a lot of students at the Raikes school want to eventually start their own business.”
Simon explained that it was the second year his class has entered the Google competition.
“Consulting experts gave students more specifics about how to use and evaluate an ad word campaign the second year,” Simon said. “The result was that we showed great overall improvement from the first year to the second.”