1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. Issues the panelists will cover to engage the audience include

Sponsored search is an innovative information searching paradigm. This panel will discuss a vehicle to explore this unique medium as an educational opportunity for students and professors. From February to May 2008, Google ran its first ever student competition in sponsored search, The Google Online Marketing Challenge ( Similar to other Google initiatives, the extent seems huge. Based on registrations from 61 countries, 629 courses from 468 universities participated, fielding 4,317 student teams of approximately 21,585 total students. The Challenge may be the largest, worldwide educational course ever done. It is certainly on an extremely large scale.

Unlike many student competitions that simulate real world conditions or craft hypothetical marketing plans, students in the Google Online Marketing Challenge developed and implemented online marketing campaigns for real clients and spent real money. Student teams received US$200 in AdWords, Google's flagship advertising product that accounts for over 90% of Google's revenue, to drive online traffic to a small-to-medium-sized enterprise (SME) Website. During the three-week contest, students accessed detailed, individualized reports and adjusted their campaigns accordingly. In addition to hands on experience conducting online marketing campaigns, students gained the experience of acting as information and marketing professionals for SMEs.

Another difference from other student competitions is a focus on the educational experience. In addition to competing on campaign metrics, the student teams submitted a written report that addresses four pedagogical areas: (1) learning objectives and outcomes; (2) group dynamics and client dynamics; (3) evolution of their campaign strategy, and (4) future recommendations for the client.

An important goal of higher education is helping students grasp the relevance of topics discussed in the classroom. A complementary goal of many professors is to develop positive liaisons with the local organizations. Similarly, many universities struggle with ways to become relevant in their local communities. In theory, The Google Online Marketing Challenge achieves these goals.

The Google Online Marketing Challenge is amazing once you think about it. More than 600 sections from nearly 500 universities from all over the world all using the same textbooks (provide free by Google to the students), the same general course outline (designed by Google and an academic panel of professors, provided to professors free of charge), the same exercise (designed by Google with input from the academic panel), and the same grading criteria (designed by Google with input from the academic panel). Many colleges have trouble getting three sections of the same course in the identical location to use the same book, exercises, and grading criteria!

The proposed panelists are (1) a member of The Challenge's Global Academic Panel: one of the professors on the panel that helped Google develop the Challenge and judged the eventual winning teams; (2) a professor who competed in The Challenge; (3) a representative from Google to discuss The Challenge from the corporate perspective; and (4) an information and business professor discussing the pedagogical implications of such a challenge. Their lively discussion will share the expected, and unexpected, educational outcomes of the Google Online Marketing Challenge.

The Challenge is a real-life, problem-based, and multidisciplinary educational endeavor of the kind that many educators say they need to relate teaching to outside the classroom. However, such endeavors are not without risks. The session should appeal to professors that competed in the 2008 Challenge, any professors considering the 2009 Challenge, as well as other educators who might consider the inclusion of Google AdWords as a pedagogical tool in their curricula. The panel will also be of great interest to those information professionals and educators as a possible model for use in other domains besides sponsored search.

Issues the panelists will cover to engage the audience include

  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. Issues the panelists will cover to engage the audience include
  • Sponsored Search – To lay the groundwork, we will present the concept of sponsored search from a multidisciplinary paradigm of both business and information seeking.

  • Organization of the Challenge – We will review the concepts and organizations of The Challenge in terms of both objectives and structure.

  • Challenge as a teaching event in the classroom – We will discuss the pedagogical learning objectives and conduct in the classroom.

  • Pros and Cons of the Challenge – We will review the aspects of The Challenge as a learning paradigm and ability (or worth) in other domains.