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24 July 2009
A team of Deakin University’s School of Information Systems students have proved they really have the word on online marketing after being named the Global Winners of the Google Online Marketing Challenge 2009.
The students who are geographically dispersed across Australia - Andrew Kidd (Tasmania), Clinton Hinze (Queensland), Howard Lien (New South Wales), and Katalin Kish, Kevin Fung, Jason Blakely (all from Victoria) - applied the skills developed in “MSC752 eBusiness Strategies” to create an eBusiness campaign for Brisbane-based Little TiGrrs Indoor Play Centre and Cafe as part of the global challenge.
The challenge is open to any higher education institution, anywhere in the world and provides an opportunity for students to gain practical, real world, online marketing experience. In 2009 more than 2187 student teams from 57 countries around the world took part in the competition.
Team spokesman Andrew Kidd said the students were asked to create an online marketing campaign using the Google advertising program – AdWords - to drive interested web customers to the business’ site as part of the competition.
"After discussions with the business owners we decided we needed to conduct three separate campaigns," he said. "One would promote the play centre to customers outside a 10 kilometre geographic radius, another would attract more mothers' groups to the centre, and the third one would attract more party and group event bookings.
"The overall campaign generated $2,355 AUD in revenue for LittleTiGrrs - a solid return on investment (ROI) of 12.1 to 1, while visitors to their website more than doubled compared with the same period last year.”
Mr Kidd said the students were shocked to find out they had won. "It was a shock because we were largely focused on meeting the academic requirements and getting through the subject,” he said. “From the generated improvements in business metrics, we knew we had developed a strong campaign - but to win the global competition is outstanding.
"But we really enjoyed taking a traditional business strategy and bricks and mortar business and putting that online. Seeing the amazing return on investment and traffic increase was quite phenomenal."
Mr Kidd said having a ‘really good client’ had helped the team to succeed. "They were really quite open to the experience and gave us full access from day one," he said. "We also had a great team, we are all at the end of our Masters degrees, so we were able to get together quite quickly and get going early to focus on the academic side and the strategy development."
Mr Kidd said the team had 'taken the 'Adwords program apart' - having a ‘whole lot of fun’ in the process. "The consensus within the team was that it was the most interesting assignment we have done, I think because it had a real world impact,” he said.
Chia Yao Lee, unit chair and lecturer for MSC752 and academic supervisor to the team said that the competition had provided an opportunity for the students and university to build a closer relationship with the small business community.
"The competition helps small businesses develop E-Business expertise while at the same time giving the students hands-on experience dealing with real-life clients, complex problems and exposure to web applications. It also puts them in a situation where they learn to collaborate with geographically dispersed team members."
Bardo Fraunholz, senior lecturer and academic supervisor to the team emphasised how well the students dealt with the challenges of being scattered all over Australia using the Deakin Studies Online (DSO) platform to structure their campaign. "The level and quality of communication on DSO was outstanding from day one," he said.
Mike Fowler and Fiona Hall, owners Little TiGrrs Indoor Playcentre and Café said the opportunity for Little Tigrrs to assist in the Challenge was a privilege.
“It opened our eyes to the power of marketing our business via the Internet but also enabled us to identify and use the diagnostic tools available to us through Google,” Mr Fowler said.
“We will be able to tailor a suitable marketing campaign based on peak/low times which will maximise returns whilst minimising outlay. We are a small family owned business and I can assure you that we count our pennies to make sure we get maximum bang for our buck. The challenge certainly gave us that.”
Ms Hall said it was a pleasure to deal with the team. “The questions and suggestions which the team asked and offered were succinct, to the point, and relevant,” she said.
“It appeared to us that they were able to quickly grasp what we were about, not just from a business perspective, but also from an ethical and moral perspective. I would strongly recommend this activity to any business who are asked to participate. Well done to the entire team!”
Deakin Media Relations
03 9246 8221 or 0422 005 485
Members of the winning team, from left, Jason Blakely,
Deakin University lecturer and Unit Chair Chia Yao Lee,
Katalin Kish, Kevin Fung, Deakin University lecturer