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South African varsities rise to the Google challenge

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Professors across South Africa are partnering with Google to introduce students to the world of online advertising and hundreds of South African marketing students are ready for the challenge. 

The Google Online Marketing Challenge is a hands-on exercise which will give undergraduate and post-graduate students direct experience of online advertising whilst they study. Student groups will receive the equivalent of $200.00 (about R1 400.00) to spend on Google AdWords advertising, working with a local business of their choice to devise effective online marketing campaigns. They will outline a strategy, run the campaign, assess their results and provide the business with recommendations to further develop their online marketing.
Students will have three weeks to mastermind the strategy and will pit their marketing minds against thousands of students worldwide. During the three-week period, the different student groups will have to submit two competition reports, one before they begin the challenge and one after the campaign has ended. Entries will be judged by an international panel of professors and winners will be chosen based on the success of the campaigns and quality of the reports.
Already, six of South Africa's top universities have registered for the competition and there is still  a week left for other universities to sign up. The challenge starts in February 2008 and is open to any higher education institution from anywhere in the world.
Lee Hunter, product marketing manager of Google EMEA, says: Online advertising is now an essential business requirement, yet, businesses tell us there are not enough people in the workforce with online advertising experience. Universities are ideal places for students to learn the practical skills needed in the workforce, so following demand from professors and students across the world we joined forces to develop this Online Marketing Challenge.
"It is a practical and fun way for universities and local businesses in South Africa to join forces and stimulate interest in this key business area.
“We set a target of 200 participating classes worldwide and we are delighted that we have already reached that target. There is no limit and there is still two week’s to register so we look forward to more universities signing up.”
Justin Beneke, lecturer and programme convenor, School of Management Studies at UCT, adds: "Electronic marketing simply cannot be ignored in the twenty first century. Hence, tertiary educational institutions have come to the realisation that failure to equip their graduates to succeed in the digital realm is not an option.
"This competition allows our students to put their skills to good use in a manner which not only gives them real-world exposure, but also adds a competitive dimension to drive them even further. I have little doubt that our students will both enjoy, and benefit from the Google Online Marketing challenge.”
The learning institutions who have already registered classes for the challenge are: University of the Witwatersrand; University of Cape Town; AAA School of Advertising; Rhodes University (Media Studies and Information Systems faculties); Monash University; and Vega – The Brand Communications School