Students earn top honors in Google Online Marketing Challenge

Three groups of Penn State students placed in the top 15 teams in the 2009 Google Online Marketing Challenge, an online advertising competition sponsored by Google.

The student teams competed in the challenge as part of a keyword marketing course taught by Jim Jansen, associate professor in the College of Information Sciences and Technology (IST). Each team was given $200 to create a three-week online advertising campaign for a central Pennsylvania business using Google AdWords. A total of 2,107 teams from around the world competed in the challenge.

Penn State’s top-placing teams comprised students from the College of IST, College of Communications and the Smeal College of Business. They were:

-- Team 2xTheClick: Mandy Mazzeo, Paul Rinaldi, Jenna Drew, Nichole Kavala and Kelly Miller. Their client was HungryBuffs.com.
-- Team Epoch: Brian Reitz, Danielle Cope, Marco Dharmajaya, Lauren Solomon and Tiantian Tang. Their client was NittanyWeddngs.com.
-- Team Ocho: Brooke Randel, Dong-jun Juang, Richard Kachman, Mitch Rukat and Dennis Siller. Their client was GantDaily.com.

Jansen said he was pleased with the students’ performance this year.

“Penn State had three teams in the top 15 and seven teams were semifinalists, placing in the top 50. I am really proud of these students,” Jansen said. “I really want to thank our guest speakers from Pepperjam, BlitzLocal, Traffic.com, AdWords for Dummies and the course TA, Daehee Park. Their expertise really added to the educational experience.”

Several of the student/client partnerships were made possible by collaboration with the Pennsylvania Technical Assistance Program (PennTAP), a unit of Penn State Outreach. Art Jones, senior e-business/information technology specialist at PennTAP, suggested Nittany Weddings and Gant Daily to Jansen for use in the class.

“These companies had been clients of mine for search-engine optimization projects,” Jones said. “The success of these student projects has helped my clients improve their business, and has really demonstrated the positive impacts that can come from collaboration between the University's Outreach and academic units."

Also participating in this year’s challenge was IMPAQT, a Pittsburgh-based search engine marketing firm, which donated $1,000 to sponsor a competition among Jansen’s students. The top three teams in the local competition received Amazon.com gift certificates.

Last year, a team of Jansen’s students took first place in the Americas region of the online challenge and won a trip to Google’s headquarters in Mountain View, Calif.

“The Challenge is a really excellent vehicle for student education and for a university to make an impact in the local community,” Jansen said. “It’s a great industry / educational / community partnership.”

Last Updated August 05, 2009