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Another Global First Place Win for TexasMedia Students

Students in the TexasMedia program within The University of Texas at Austin’s Stan Richards School of Advertising and Public Relations are no strangers to the rigorous growth that comes from conducting current market analyses and producing strategic solutions. In fact, TexasMedia, a cross-disciplinary program designed to provide emphasis in the key areas of media insights, interactivity and investments, was created to provide students with the theoretical foundation and practical knowledge to take on such tasks. This past semester was no different.

Earlier this spring, students in Lisa Dobias’ Advanced Media Strategies class had the opportunity to participate in the annual Google Online Marketing Challenge. The competition teaches students about search engine marketing, and this year Google awarded a team from The Stan Richards School of Advertising and Public Relations the first place Social Impact Award out of a pool of hundreds of groups from 65 countries.

The team, consisting of Angela Fayad, Ben Torres, Kendall Troup, Zachary Kornblau, Kristin Kish, and team leader Kaitlin Reid, led by Senior Lecturer Lisa Dobias, partnered with Thinkery, a local Austin nonprofit children’s museum that creates innovative scientific learning experiences for the new generation.

“We chose to work with Thinkery for this project because one of our team members, Kristin Kish, had such a positive experience volunteering and interning at the museum in the past,” Reid said.  

The Google Online Marketing Challenge is an annual competition hosted by Google. Groups of students partner with a local business or nonprofit and are credited $250 to use on Google AdWords to drive traffic to the partner’s website. The contest helps businesses and nonprofits gain website traffic through search engine marketing, which generates real sales, donations and sign-ups. The students gain experience in search engine marketing by constructing, executing, monitoring, optimizing and reporting live AdWords campaigns for their clients.

“Participating in the GOMC was a tremendous learning experience,” Reid said. “Every day we learned something new –– whether that was discovering a new performance insight or figuring out how exactly to serve a video advertisement. Understanding how search operates helped me inform decision making in regards to providing recommendations on things like digital targeting, audience development and segmentation and keywords for various projects I worked on in my internship this summer.”

The Social Impact Awards from the Google Online Marketing Challenge highlight groups that were outstanding performers with a non profit client. The University of Texas at Austin group achieved tremendous results from the $250 they were credited by Google. By using search, display and video marketing, the group was able to obtain 19,888 impressions, 834 interactions and an overall 4.19% interaction rate. The group helped increase ticket sales by more than 2,500 tickets, and two ad groups’ click-thru-rates surpassed 15%.

“I am so proud of the Google Online Marketing Challenge work produced by all of my students last semester, but this team’s work on Thinkery was particularly outstanding,” Dobias said. “Not only did they achieve incredible results on all metrics, including substantial lifts in interactions and spring ticket sales, they put their education in hybrid planning into action, illustrating they understand the power of search engine marketing within the greater context of a brand’s overall media efforts.”

In addition to several major prizes from Google acknowledging the win, the UT student team earned a $15,000 donation for Thinkery.

“I am so excited that Thinkery will receive $15,000 from Google,” Reid said. “It's an incredible non-profit doing incredible work within the community. After working with the organization directly, I also know how much of an impact this donation will make. Our whole team can't wait to see how Thinkery uses the money!”

This is the second time students from the TexasMedia program have competed in the Google Online Marketing Challenge, and the the program’s second global win. In 2012, a team from the same course took home the Global First Place Award in the Social Media Category for their incorporation of promotional Google Hangouts within their AdWords campaign for Austin women’s clothing boutique The Impeccable Pig.

“I chose to revisit the Google Online Marketing Challenge again as one of two major classroom projects because the competition not only challenges students to interpret insights and create strategies, but also to implement their campaigns in real time,” Dobias said. “In the process they gain the invaluable experience of managing their own individual client relationships for the first time. The fact that one of our teams won to the benefit of a nonprofit is such an added bonus.”

The Google Online Marketing Challenge is an extremely difficult and prestigious global competition. The Social Impact Award is an essential award to win for The Stan Richards School of Advertising and Public Relations, as it highlights both our students’ amazing work, and the school’s commitment to working with local nonprofits. In the two years Lisa Dobias’ class has competed in the challenge, her group has won a global award both times. This win shows the excellence of our students, our staff, and The University of Texas at Austin.

Madison Comstock

Staff Writer


For more information, contact:

Nick Hundley at 512-471-7209