Interactive Marketing Communications Gets a New Set of Clients Through Google Grants

Advertising students at COM have plenty of confidence developing creative campaigns, but what about working on local non-profit campaigns- all sponsored by Google?  In Interactive Marketing Communications (CM 519), students must quickly learn programming for Google’s search engine marketing, while also managing real clients and money.

In April of 2009, COM advertising Professor Tom Fauls was invited to a Google Adwords presentation in Cambridge, and offered the chance to add a Google grant as part of the COM curriculum. As a result, Professor Faul’s Integrated Marketing Communications (IAMC) classes have had a hands-on experience of the strategy and techniques in the emerging field of interactive marketing communications. The Adwords program at COM is now going on its second year.

Google Grants is a unique program, in which Google awards free Adwords advertising to select charitable organizations. The Google Adwords Grant gives up to $10,000 in advertising a month to non-profit organizations.

AdWords is Google’s advertising product and main source of revenue. It offers pay-per-click advertising, and site-targeted advertising for rich-media ads. Unlike standard ads, which direct you just to the destination site, rich-media ads are interactive and can expand when users click or roll over them.

At COM, Professor Fauls divides his class into teams of 3-5 students. The teams are then assigned clients and create and manage campaigns for them over the course of the semester. “This is a great win-win situation for the clients and students,” Fauls said, “because the clients can accomplish various advertising objectives, while students gain valuable real world experience.

This year’s non-profit clients are South Boston Collaborative Center Inc, Clinton Health Services, Boston Musica Viva, and Massachusetts Non-Profit Network. AdWords helps the clients achieve objectives, such as driving people to their website, and getting people to volunteer or donate money.

Clinton Health Services uses AdWords to recruit staffers for their offices located around the world.  The South Boston Collaborative Center uses their grant to help with their suicide prevention and addiction challenges by directing people to their website hopeandrecovery.org.

The Massachusetts Non-profit Network is an umbrella organization for all non-profit organizations and uses AdWords for all kind of resource services. The Boston Musica Viva uses AdWords to promote ticket sales for their concerts.

Students meet with their clients within the first week of classes and help them identify objectives. They then develop a database of “keywords” for each objective and expand on a series of campaigns, which are divided into ad groups with multiple ads in each group.

Students must work within the Google system, where it’s not easy to get an ad enabled because ads must be written in a specific way. In addition, the bidding process for keywords must be done in a specific way. For example, if the keyword goes higher than a dollar during the bidding process, the team must go back and choose another word for the campaign. And if all of those components are not in alignment, the algorithm will not enable the ad.

“Students must work hard and develop a good base of knowledge to navigate in this environment – the AdWords ecosystem,” says Professor Fauls, “It’s a challenge because each campaign is like a puzzle.”

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