MSU team places in top 15 in Americas in Google Online Marketing Challenge

Posted on: October 10, 2011

Four Michigan State University students placed in the semifinalists – among the top 15 teams in the Americas – in the worldwide Google Online Marketing Challenge this spring.

Approximately 35,000 students from more than 95 countries competed in the annual challenge. One MSU team placed in the semifinalists and among the top 100 teams globally. Zi (Lexie) Liang, Man Lin, Kirstine Oygardslia and Ivan Zalessov were the students on the semifinalist team in Professor Charles Steinfield’s TC 862: Electronic Commerce graduate course spring 2011 semester.

Liang was the team leader of the group.

“We knew we did an excellent job on helping our clients to increase website traffic, but we didn’t expect ourselves in the semifinalists,” said Liang, a recent master’s graduate in public relations.

This is the first team from MSU to place in the higher categories of this competition. Another team in the same class received a strong campaign rating, placing in the top 10 percentile worldwide.

The challenge was to create an effective online marketing campaign using Google’s AdWords for a business client with a budget of $200. AdWords is used to increase Internet traffic on specific websites. The winners were selected based on the success of their campaign and the detailed reports given throughout the challenge.

The semifinalist team designed their campaign to promote the Department of Telecommunication, Information Studies, and Media summer camps. “The timing was perfect, the AdWords challenge starts in March and that’s when families are starting to figure out their summer plans,” Steinfield said.

The competition lasted three weeks and the team members were judged on their ability to review and improve their campaign throughout the challenge.

“I think we learned a lot through this challenge and we had success in the project. We didn’t get satisfying results at the beginning of our campaign, but we managed to adjust our strategies and greatly improved the results. That’s the purpose of participating in this challenge, to learn and to improve,” Liang said.

The students learned relevancy, how to choose the right keywords and to craft the right type of ad, leading to a strong campaign.

“In order to have a successful campaign, it must be limited to a fine-tuned market. This team took full advantage of all the tools and showed clearly how they changed. They had a rough beginning, then they changed directions, and they really got the campaign going,” Steinfield said.

“Not only did I complete the class with practical experience in pay-per-click advertising, but I also learned how to work in a team and how to work with clients. We communicated with each other constantly, and we learned to adjust our plan as needed. These skills will be highly valuable in my career,” Liang said.

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