Three marketing students from James Madison University’s College of Business won first place in the Americas in the 2009 Google Online Marketing Challenge, an international search-engine marketing competition.
Seniors Rachel Bruton, Meredith Rauh and Brandon Sockwell were named winners of the Americas region, which includes North, Central and South America. The team placed second globally, beating some 2,100 teams from 57 countries.
Real Client, Real Money, Real Advertising Campaign
Under the direction of CoB professor Theresa B. Flaherty, Ph.D., the team designed and executed a Google AdWords campaign for the Washington, D.C. business MobileTours.org. With a $200 voucher and a three-week campaign window, the students successfully increased Mobile Tours’ sales by 20 percent.
The students’ strategy included two AdWords campaigns with 15 ad groups. They used other Google marketing and reporting tools- including Google Analytics, Keyword Generator and Dynamic Keyword Insertion, AdWords Editor, geo-targeting, and restricted scheduling of ads-to adjust the campaign each day. The better performing campaign resulted in 37,986 impressions, 306 clicks, an average Click Through Rate of .94 percent, and an average Cost Per Click of 43 cents.
Classroom Theories In Action
All three students volunteered for the competition, receiving no class credit or internship credit. Their motivation was “a competitive edge” in the workforce, according to Burton, the team captain. “You become much more emotionally invested when you work with a real company,” Burton said. “You have the chance to see classroom theories put into action.” The tangible skills are already paying off. Since graduating in May, all three students have earned positions leveraging their online marketing savvy.
Flaherty calls this competition one of the best experiences of her career.” She congratulated the students for taking on an extra set of responsibilities and demonstrating a true love of learning.
JMU Dominates Competition
In addition to the first place win, two other JMU teams were semi-finalists in the Americas region, ranking in the top 50. In 2008, JMU teams placed in the top 10 percent.