Learning With Real Time Results: AdWords in the Curriculum Students Help Detroit Windsor Dance Make a Grand Jeté Into Online Marketing

Thursday, March 11, 2010 | 7:10 AM

Day 30 of an AdWords campaign should look very different than Day 1. Wayne State students of AdWords in the Curriculum learned this lesson quickly, according to Professor of Marketing Kevin Ketels. "I intentionally let students launch underdeveloped campaigns so they could watch the evolution from a non-performing to performing program," he said. Launching and then optimizing based on data proved successful for the Detroit Windsor Dance Academy team, particularly.

"When the team for the Detroit Windsor Dance Academy changed their general dance ad group to multiple ad groups that addressed specific types of dance (hip-hop, belly, adult, etc) with targeted ads, their results improved dramatically. Hip-hop ended up with 125 clicks and a 3.75% clickthrough rate (CTR). Belly dancing had 27 clicks and a 2.02% CTR, and Adult finished with 42 clicks and a 1.44% CTR. It was an amazing turnaround," explained Professor Ketels.

Taking a hands-on learning approach led students to discover best practices, rather than having them prescribed beforehand. The students also learned about differing strategies based on particular distinguishing features of a non-profit. For instance, competitive advantage can be essential for some non-profits, and less of a priority for others. "Another team did very well by identifying popular organizations that shared their mission," said Professor Ketels. "They then created ads that highlighted a competitive advantage held by their non-profit versus the other organizations. It worked brilliantly and resulted in more than 200 clicks and a CTR for several keywords exceeding 2% and one keyword topping out at 13%."

Campaigns are also affected by external factors which may be beyond their control, as the students learned. For instance, saturation in an industry caused some non-profits in the program to face high competition on keywords. "Developing a campaign for a hostelling non-profit was very difficult because of the extraordinary competition and bidding for keywords in the area of student and low cost travel. This team tried perhaps a hundred different combinations of keywords and perhaps different ten ad groups," Professor Ketels recapped.

While dealing with challenges of high competition or concluding that a keyword simply won't work for a campaign can be disheartening, the speed of results has been a win for effective campaign management and learning the platform. Rather than needing to invest hours in a campaign for months on end before learning that part of it is not working, testing periods can be a matter of days. From a teaching standpoint, it also changes timelines around grading for AdWords in the Curriculum students. Professor Ketels noted, "When you’re dealing with a live project where you can see substantive results in just a few days, it is archaic to ask students to turn in a paper status report that is then returned a week later."

With a semester of wins and challenges, Professor Ketels praised AdWords in the Curriculum as immensely valuable for his students. We're pleased that the program has been beneficial to students and non-profits alike.

"It was outstanding to teach the creative copy development process in conjunction with a defined target audience and to have almost instantaneous real-world feedback," said Professor Ketels. "I didn’t have to tell my students if they were successful or not, they could see their clickthrough rates immediately. It is quite simply an exercise that cannot be replicated in a traditional classroom environment."