Students Get Hands-on Experience with Google AdGrants Marketing Challenge

April 9, 2019

Students talking with Jodi Mather and Richard Sweet

Students in Assistant Professor Jodi Mather’s Digital Marketing class are getting some hands-on search engine marketing experience this semester thanks to a Google-sponsored program that pairs college students with non-profits.

Mather, who is teaching an Early College High School class full of students on the Entrepreneurship track, discovered the Google AdGrants Marketing Challenge last year and thought it would be a good challenge for her digital marketing students.

“Through this program, non-profits are provided with $10,000 a month in advertising and they pair up with college student teams to create strategies and set goals for the campaigns. Google sets up guidelines and metrics for them to follow and they are held to a pretty high standard – they have to hit certain quality standards or they get dropped from the program,” she said.

The student teams are working with four unique non-profits: Girl Scouts of Southeastern Missouri; Alarm Will Sound, a 20-member contemporary orchestra; Wildlife Alliance, a Cambodian rainforest preservation organization; and FIRST Skin Foundation, which raises awareness and funds to combat ichthyosis, a skin disorder.

The students have already had their first client meetings via videoconferencing to discuss their goals and each non-profit has unique needs – some are interested in fundraising, others in driving awareness or ticket sales via digital marketing. “That’s all part of being a marketer: dealing with client meetings and their expectations,” said Mather. “The students are really getting a taste of what they would be doing as professionals in this field.”

On Tuesday, April 2, Rich Sweet, the Search Engine Marketing Manager for Overit Media in Albany visited the students at their TEC-SMART classroom. Sweet, who has been a digital marketing professional for five years, lent some of his expertise to the young students and helped evaluate their campaigns.

“I really was impressed by the thought and the planning they had already put into this. Most non-profits who are accepted into the Google AdGrant program either do it themselves or farm it out to an agency,” said Sweet. “To have this experience when you’re 17 or 18 years old is pretty unique, and it’s a great skill for them to learn these fundamentals if they want to go into the field.”

Mather said she hopes to continue offering this opportunity in her classes in upcoming semesters, and for his part, Sweet said the experience is really invaluable for these young students. “It’s important for students who are interested in marketing to see that this is where a lot of the field is going,” he said.

The students are part of the Clean Technologies and Sustainable Industries Early College High School, a partnership with the Ballston Spa Central School District, which is designed to develop pathways to higher education in four fields: renewable energy, entrepreneurship, computer information science and semiconductor manufacturing. Students from two dozen school districts around the region Students take courses at TEC-SMART for half the day and finish up with regular high school courses in their schools for the remainder of the day.

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