Google announced recently that a team of four MBA students from the C. T. Bauer College of Business at the University of Houston are the Americas champions of the 2013 Google Online Marketing Challenge.
The team, comprised of Bauer MBA students Heather Nguyen, Jason Ruth, Adam Jalfon and James McLellan, competed against 12,000 students from more than 80 countries to become the Americas Winner in the challenge, which allows college students to display their skills in advertising, ecommerce, integrated communication, management information systems, marketing and new media technologies. Bauer teams have competed in the challenge for the past four years, with the 2011 team taking the global title.
“To have a company like Google once again recognize the strength and aptitude of these Bauer MBA students is humbling,” Dean Latha Ramchand said. “We are so proud of their achievement and will continue to build curriculum around innovative and evolving aspects of the business world.”
Preparation for the competition began months before the team submitted its final report. To begin the process, the Bauer students selected a client — the Children’s Museum of Houston — and analyzed the company’s business and marketing needs. Then, the team drafted a pre-campaign report, according to a rubric provided by Google. After submitting the report online, the team was given an online Google AdWords account and $250 from Google for a three-week campaign to improve online marketing efforts for the museum.
“Forester Research forecasts that spending for U.S. online marketing will be $50 billion this year. Being able to design, create and execute an online marketing campaign for $250 that cuts through that noise and is judged by Google, industry professionals and academic experts to be the most effective in all of North, South and Central America is a herculean accomplishment. And, being recognized twice in the past three years as either the best in the Americas or the best in the world for online marketing is reflective of the quality of UH Bauer College marketing students,” said Executive Professor Steven Koch, the team’s faculty advisor.
The students came together in a course taught by Koch. In order to be accepted into the class, students were interviewed and required to complete a course in Internet Marketing and Ecommerce.
“I highly value my time at Bauer because I am gaining much more than a graduate degree,” said Nguyen, president of the college’s MBA Society and marketing club. “We have opportunities to participate in challenging projects like this that can impact real businesses. This ‘beyond the textbook’ approach and the quality of the professors at Bauer are major factors in our team’s success.”
Her teammate Jason Ruth agreed.
“I decided to obtain an MBA in order to develop an analytics approach to understanding business and providing practical solutions,” he said. “Bauer College did just that by helping me expand my horizons and focusing my business awareness. From my first class on understanding financial models to my classes delving into internet marketing and web analytics, the classes at Bauer helped me develop the skills I needed to take an analytic approach as well as to strategize realistic solutions to real-life business problems. These skills aided me in working with my teammates to create strategies, measure their successes and then adapt the best strategy for the client.”
“I am very proud to have taken part in the Google Online Marketing Challenge and to represent Bauer College and the University of Houston,” Ruth added. “I couldn’t have asked for a better team — we worked together tirelessly to create a strategy for our client and to adapt and improve it as the competition progressed. And, Professor Koch is a world-class professor. Without his coaching, none of this would have been possible for our team.”
The team’s campaign, while running, was constantly evaluated, in real time, by Google using 30 performance algorithms, grouped into five constructs — account structure, optimization techniques, account activity and reporting, and budget and performance. The team’s pre and post written reports were evaluated by a panel of industry experts, Google executives and academicians using a preset rubric.
This is the fourth year for a Bauer MBA team to enter the competition. In 2011, four Bauer MBAs were named global champions with their plan for the Houston Symphony.