UWA Business School
When Professor Jamie Murphy offered his students the chance to participate in the Google Online Marketing Challenge, Rike Fitrianidian jumped at the chance to test her skills.
The UWA Business School Masters of Commerce student is part of a team of five students running an online campaign for Autism West, a charity formed in 2000 to help individuals and families cope with autism.
Autism West facilitates research and fundraising, in addition to providing a library, outdoor area, and other facilities for families of autisms sufferers. Working with a real organisation, explains Fitrianidian, has forced her team to communicate their strategy clearly, and ensure that it fulfils their client's needs.
Google provides teams of three to six students with $200 credit for AdWords, Google's online advertising network. Students must then work with their partner business to create an effective three-week online advertising campaign. Teams' campaigns are first ranked through a Google algorithm, then qualitative judging by Google experts of the top 150 teams, and finally qualitative marking of two written reports by the final 15 teams.
UWA has strong ties to the Google Challenge. In 2008, one UWA team beat over 8,000 students in 47 countries to become the Challenge's inaugural Global Winner. The following year, another UWA team finished in the top 15 teams globally.
Professor Murphy from UWA Business School is co-founder of the Challenge, leading a prestigious panel of academics from around the world. In addition to writing hundreds of published articles, Murphy has held management positions in marketing divisions of various European companies.
About ten percent of students gain a job or interview because of their real-world experience, says Professor Murphy. With revenue from traditional media declining, many job opportunities require applicants to have internet marketing experience. And, says Murphy, declaring ‘I ran an AdWords campaign' can give students a critical advantage.
Just as importantly, Murphy balances his teams across gender and home countries. Fitrianidian's fellow team member, Jiang Shui Ho, has enjoyed the experience. ‘Working in groups helps us expand our perspectives and know what people from different nationalities, cultures, backgrounds, and conditionings think, and [how they] react to various scenarios.'
The practical component of the Google Challenge gives Murphy an opportunity to enhance the teaching and learning outcomes for his students. Fitrianidian explains, ‘I can comprehend the theory better, [rather] than just studying the theory for a test or exams.'
Former student Samuel Zhao is a prime example. After participating in the 2007 beta-testing stage of the Google Challenge, he now works at ineedhits, a leading Perth-based search engine marketing company. As an expert in e-marketing, he has given valuable technical advice to this year's students.
But it's not just the students that benefit. Businesses receive free consulting services and $200 worth of free advertising. The results prove invaluable, with Professor Murphy estimating that two thirds of businesses choose to continue with their campaigns after the Google Challenge ends.
Gabriella LaBianca, of Autism West, admits to previously finding online marketing a mystery. ‘I guess I always knew someone had to be paying for the ads, but didn't understand how it worked.'
The Autism West team aimed to double the number of website visitors, thereby raising greater awareness of autism spectrum disorders.
‘Autism West definitely sees it as a benefit when more people learn about autism and find support networks, even if it doesn't directly benefit us financially,' LaBianca explains.
For growing businesses, the world of online marketing holds enormous potential. ‘I would recommend any organisation to take the challenge. It is a great way to get some extra exposure and also provide hands on experience for students,' enthuses LaBianca.
This year, both Murphy's postgraduate students and lecturer Wade Halvorson's undergraduate students competed in the Challenge. Professor Murphy's goal was to see one of his teams reach the final fifteen.
For Murphy, however, the highlight of the Google Challenge experience has been his ex-students contacting him as business owners: ‘They think so much of the exercise that they want to participate in it as clients. That's very rewarding.' This time, his smile betrays a lasting satisfaction.
Watch the video of Professor Murphy discussing the Google Challenge experience
Director, External Relations
UWA Business School
Telephone: +618 6488 8171
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