Penn State students among top winners in Google challenge

University Park, Pa. -- A team of five students from Penn State’s College of Information Sciences and Technology (IST) placed among the top teams in an international search-engine marketing competition sponsored by Google.

Students Daehee Park, Caroline Furey, Joe Lewis, Matt Maisel and Tonya Podkuiko were recently named winners in the Google Online Marketing Challenge for the online marketing campaign they created and executed for the State College, Pa. business HappyValley.com

Under the direction of IST Assistant Professor Jim Jansen, the team won first place among hundreds of teams from the Americas region, and were one of three regional winners in the global competition.

Some 1,600 teams representing 47 countries completed the necessary requirements for judging.

An algorithmic evaluation of the teams’ campaigns narrowed the field to 150. Then, a manual review narrowed the entries to 15. Finally, an academic panel of professors reviewed the campaign reports and selected the best teams from each region.

The rigorous judging process meant that IST’s students faced some tough competition and had to meet high standards of search-engine marketing to win.

“The students faced a tremendous amount of competition from some of the best universities in the world,” Jansen said. “The fact that they did so well is really a testament to their hard work and engagement throughout the marketing campaign.”

Park, a rising junior, said the group’s strong work ethic and commitment to working together made their success possible.

“A key factor of our team's success was bringing each member to the same page regarding knowledge about pay-per-click marketing,” he said. “Months before the campaign started, we made it required reading to study the official Google learning center and relevant posts on prominent industry blogs.”

He continued, “Preparation was essential so that during the campaign, each member would know how to take action without being hesitant.”

HappyValley.com CEO Greg Woodman said the team’s project has provided great insight into search-engine marketing and how to make more effective use of tools like Google AdWords.

“We are constantly working to increase our search engine rankings and appreciate all the valuable information the IST team has presented to us,” he said. “We were delighted to be selected for their project, and we’re glad their hard work paid off. Our thanks and congratulations go out to these outstanding Penn State students.”

Jansen and the students will receive a trip to Google headquarters in Mountain View, Calif.. Additionally, each of the students will receive an Apple Macbook computer.

Student teams from Jansen’s e-marketing class, “IST 402 Emerging Issues in Technology” represented Penn State in the competition. This course brought together students from the three colleges with interests in communications, business and technology.

“The course is a great example of how universities can be relevant and bring value to their local communities,” Jansen said.
 

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Last Updated November 18, 2010