Google Results Show Illinois Tech Students Are Top Marketers



By Scott Lewis

Marketing efforts at the Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles are looking up, thanks to digital ad campaigns created last summer by a team of students from Illinois Institute of Technology’s Stuart School of Business. The students’ work was so outstanding that Google has awarded them Google Ads Top Marketer certificates for their efforts.

The team created and optimized Google Ads campaigns targeting website traffic, membership and donations, event promotion, and newsletter signups for their nonprofit client, the Griffith Observatory Foundation, resulting in significant improvements in all areas. The Google Ads Top Marketer recognition places the students’ performance among the very best out of thousands of students worldwide who participated in the 2021 Google Ad Grants Online Marketing Challenge.

The team members, all in Stuart’s M.S. in Marketing Analytics program, are Sharanya Sreenivasan, Drashti Mehta, Sindhuja Bheesette, Jason Simons, and Hoi Ki “Kelly” Tang. Stuart Adjunct Instructor Ketan Patel served as the team’s faculty adviser and mentor.

The Online Marketing Challenge is part of the Google Ad Grants Nonprofit Marketing Immersion, a global program that matches university students with nonprofit organizations that need extra support with their Google Ad Grants accounts. Student participants are responsible for deliverables and building a partnership with the nonprofit, following the same steps that digital marketing agencies typically use when working with clients.

The challenge gave the Stuart students an opportunity in live online campaigns to hone skills that they had learned in Patel’s Digital Marketing course. They also prepared by completing the Google Ads search and measurement certifications.

In reporting on the results of the two-month campaigns that the students ran, team captain Sreenivasan noted that the campaigns generated 120,954-plus unique website visits, nearly doubled the number of people who signed up to receive the organization’s newsletter (from 5,400 to 10,121), and achieved the goal of raising the level of donations overall, particularly from the millennial demographic (ages 25–45) that the campaigns targeted.

One of the key takeaways from the experience, the team members wrote in their report to Google, was learning how to analyze live data from Google ads in real time so they could optimize the campaigns, continuously improve the results, and surpass the pre-campaign goals.

This is the third year in a row that Stuart students have received Google Ads Top Marketer distinction, according to Stuart Professor of Marketing Krishna Erramilli, director of the M.S. in Marketing Analytics program.

Along with a certificate from Google congratulating them on “running a truly remarkable online marketing campaign,” the students were invited to submit their résumés for potential matching with internship and job openings at Google.

Photo: [Clockwise from top left] Sharanya Sreenivasan, Drashti Mehta, Hoi Ki “Kelly” Tang, Jason Simons, and Sindhuja Bheesette (photos provided)