Carl H. Lindner College of BusinessCarl H. Lindner College of BusinessUniversity of Cincinnati

Carl H. Lindner College of Business

UC Students Aim for High Click Count in Google Online Marketing Challenge

Monday, December 19, 2016 6:27 PM
International competition could earn team a trip to Google headquarters.
Google Online Marketing Challenge

Team members of the Google Online Marketing Challenge.

With a $250 budget from Google, a group of undergraduate students in the Carl H. Lindner College of Business are developing an online advertising strategy for a local business in hopes of winning Google’s Online Marketing Challenge.

Lindner Honors-PLUS students Sean Cox, BBA ’15 (marketing); Bhavik Modi, BBA ’15 (finance); Stephanie Neiheisel, BBA ’15 (marketing); Peter Schmidt, BBA ’15 (finance); and Jack Wells, BBA ’15 (accounting); along with advisor Dong-Gil Ko, associate professor of information systems in the Lindner College of Business, are among 50,000 students from more than 100 countries participating in the contest.

The three-week campaign measures the success of Google AdWords, which are ads that students create to appear beside Google search results based on team-selected keywords Internet surfers would use to search for information. When Internet users click the ad, a link connects them to a business that can potentially translate into a new customer. 

Each ad click taps into the team budget. “Google uses a cost per click method of payment,” says team captain Modi. “So every time someone clicks on our ad, we pay a certain price.”

As the ads run through the three-week cycle, market variables are adjusted. “We constantly adjust keywords, pricing, and ads to make sure we get optimum results,” Modi says.

The team of five students partnered with Kings Sports LLC, a local baseball tournament management company in Maineville, Ohio, to promote the business in a three-week Google Ads campaign that began in March and ends April 16.

“Small businesses often don’t have access to the same resources that major corporations use to market their products, so an online platform such as AdWords helps place them on equal footing,” says Modi.

After the three-week campaign, the team submits a report to be judged by Google’s Global Academic Panel. Team success is measured by clicks, impressions (how many times ads are shown), keyword search relevance, budget allocation over three weeks and click through ratio (clicks divided by impressions).

To date, the team boasts 223 clicks, a number higher than regional winners from last year, Modi says.

“With 16 percent of the remaining budget and four days left in the challenge, our average position is No. 2 on all search results related to our business, which is incredibly high considering our limited budget,” he says.

Results will be available in July. Winner of the competition receives an all expense paid trip to Google headquarters in San Francisco to meet with executives.