University of Houston Google Online Marketing Challenge

The University of Houston, the second largest university in the United States, is holding an online marketing challenge for graduate students. The competition challenges students to develop a marketing plan for a restaurant, bar or coffee shop and implement it across three platforms:

  • Instagram
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • A blog
  • A website

The grand prize is a $15,000 research grant and a spot on the Google AdWords Management Team. The first place winner will also receive $5,000 research grant and a spot on the Google AdWords Management Team. Second place winners receive $2,500 research grant and a spot on the Google AdWords Management Team. Third place winners receive $1,500 research grant and a spot on the Google AdWords Management Team.

All You Need To Know About The Marketing Challenge

The University of Houston is a public university, so all students are admitted without regard to their financial situation. Over 15,000 students attend the university, which makes it the second largest school in the state. It is also one of the most diverse universities in the nation.

The university’s website states that its mission is to provide “a transformative education that equips students with the knowledge, skills, and cultural awareness to succeed in a global society.” While that may be true, the site also offers a clear picture of the school’s revenue stream: advertising. Specifically, the university promotes itself as an academic, athletic, and social hub for Houston and the surrounding region while also hawking its extensive services to potential and existing students.

According to the university, online marketing is a growing field and is relevant to almost every industry. As a result, the university felt that teaching students how to market online would benefit them in the real world. The goal of the marketing challenge is to teach students the theory and practice of digital marketing so that they may succeed in today’s ever-changing environment. More specifically, the challenge aims to equip students with the following six core competencies:

  • Identify the goals and the objectives of the marketing effort
  • Conduct a SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Thwartments)
  • Research the target audience and formulate a sound strategy
  • Plan effective communication pathways
  • Develop metrics and track results
  • Use a variety of media to reach the target audience
  • Apply marketing analytics to improve marketing decisions
  • Research the competitive analysis and formulate a comprehensive plan

Additionally, the university states that it will evaluate the students on a more than just the quality of their plan. Instead, they plan to use a holistic approach that combines both quantitative and qualitative elements.

As stated, the $15,000 research grant is a grand prize that will go to the student who submits the best overall marketing plan. However, students are encouraged to leverage the grant money to develop their individual marketing plans and implement them. Each student will work remotely with a team of professionals who will coach them through the process. The team will utilize Google tools such as Analytics, AdWords, and Measurement

To qualify for the $5,000 first place research grant, students must create a marketing plan for an existing business. Students are also encouraged to develop a marketing plan for an imaginary business in order to gain experience. The $2,500 second and third place research grants will be given to the students who develop the best plan among the three platforms: Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.

Deadline For Submission

Submissions must be received by midnight on April 19th. However, university officials are extending the deadline to April 26th at 5 p.m.

Judging The Marketing Challenge

Three local marketing attorneys will judge the competition. They will be selecting a winner based on the following criteria:

  • Overall marketing concept
  • Creativity
  • Innovation
  • Overall planning
  • Data analysis
  • Approach
  • Overall execution
  • Results analysis

The attorneys will choose the plan they believe is the best based on the criteria above. They will then contact the student to provide further details about the plan and the opportunity to work with Google. The attorneys will also inform the student about any necessary next steps.

What Is The University Of Houston’s Strategy To Attract More Students?

According to the university, it is a long-term strategy to raise their profile as an international university and increase its enrollment. One important step in this direction is the marketing challenge, which is intended to equip graduate students with the theory and practice of online marketing.

As a result, the university is looking for new students to join its welcoming and diverse community. To do this, the university is using digital marketing to increase its visibility and engage with prospective students.

Specifically, the university’s Digital Marketing team developed a digital marketing plan for the 2017-2018 academic year. The plan focuses on attracting more international students to the university by raising awareness of the school’s global opportunities and unique campus life. Additionally, the plan targets current students, faculty, and staff by creating awareness of the excellent job prospects at the university and providing them with the information they need to explore all the available career options.


The university announced the results of the challenge on April 24th. The three winning teams will receive research grants and the opportunity to work with Google. Additionally, two teams received honorable mentions for their engagement with the community and the development of a unique product or service for people in the area.

The marketing attorneys will be available to provide further information about the plans submitted and to answer any questions about applying for scholarships or finding jobs.

Preparing For The Future

According to the university’s website, the following steps will help students prepare for the future:

  • Career development
  • Graduate school
  • Post-graduate work
  • Continuing education
  • Life in the community
  • Alumni association
  • Authoritative website
  • Global vision

Additionally, the university states that it will continue to invest in the field of marketing and digital marketing by establishing the Department of Digital Marketing in September 2018. Established by the University of Houston’s College of Education, the department will teach students the theory and practice of digital marketing.