Registrations have opened for Google's 2009 Online Marketing Challenge, a global competition that encourages university teams to compete and develop the best online marketing strategy for a local business.

The first year of the competition in 2008 was such a success, with 1 650 different teams participating across 47 different countries, that it has now become an annual competition.
The challenge is a hands-on exercise which gives undergraduate and post-graduate students direct experience of online advertising as part of their course. Student teams receive the equivalent of $200.00 to spend on Google AdWords advertising, to work with a local business to devise an effective online marketing campaign. The teams have to outline a strategy, run the campaign, assess their results and provide the business with recommendations to further develop their online marketing.
Lee Hunter, product marketing manager at Google EMEA, says: "The huge response to last year's Challenge was so overwhelming that we decided to make this an annual competition. Giving students direct experience of online marketing whilst they are studying is a great way for universities to provide students with direct practical skills they can use on graduation.
"Whether they find a job in marketing, accountancy, retail or set up their own business, graduates could always benefit from understanding online marketing. We hope students from across different academic disciplines will get involved in this competition."
The challenge works like this:
* Professors divide students into groups, which receive free online advertising vouchers for Google AdWords worth the equivalent of $200.00;
* The groups or professors recruit a small-to-medium sized business, under 100 employees, who have a website but don't currently use AdWords;
* Each group works with the business to set up an account and structure an online marketing campaign;
* During a three-week competition window, the groups optimise and refine their campaigns. They will need to submit two competition reports – one before they begin and one after the campaign has ended;
* Entries are judged and winners chosen based on the success of their campaign and the quality of their reports;
* Registrations for 2009 open on 17 October 2008 and will close on 23 January 2009. To accommodate students all over the globe, students can compete over any three consecutive weeks between January and May 2009.
* Global and regional winners will be announced in July 2009;
* 2008 was the first year of the competition. An original target of 200 teams were expected to participate but around 8 000 students from 1 650 different teams across 47 different countries participated.Online advertising.