A team from the UP College of Business Administration emerge as the Asia & Pacific champions at the 7th Google Online Marketing Challenge, besting other teams from the region
MANILA, Philippines – A team of University of the Philippines (UP) students has shown how streetsmarts and resourcefulness can help Filipinos not only compete with, but also win against, the best in the Asia-Pacific.
Allen Calica, Hillary Joven, Telle Lao, Jade Teng, and Julian Yao – 4th year and 5th year students at the UP College of Business Administration – emerged as the Asia & Pacific champions at the 7th Google Online Marketing Challenge, beating other teams from around the region.
For the last 7 years, the international Google Online Marketing Challenge has given more than 80,000 students and professors a platform to create online marketing campaigns.
Each team is given a $250-Google AdWords advertising budget to support a business or non-profit organization of their choice for a 3-week campaign.
In the beginning, it seemed as if luck was not on their side. The 5 barely knew each other when mentor Professor James Ryan Jonas formed them into a team. They were all self-confessed Google AdWords amateurs.
They found out, however, that this was not going to be a problem, since the true test came from the implementation of the project itself and not from how well teams presented or wrote their papers.
“AdWords [ultimately levelled the] playing field for everyone,” Yao said. “You’re graded based on symmetrics and algorithms so you really have to perform well objectively.”
So how exactly does one perform well with an online campaign?
Given the 3-week timeframe, the team stuck to a formula they knew would work: combine the universal appeal of food with Filipinos’ love for deals and discounts.
For their entry, the team managed to successfully boost the business of their chosen client, KPub BBQ in Bonifacio Global City (BGC).
To increase brand awareness for the Korean barbeque restaurant and pub, they created ads targeting food blogs and people searching for BGC restaurants. They then generated ads to publicize KPub’s promotional discount on their meat-all-you-can buffet.
News of the discount spread quickly, with several unique visitors clicking the team’s online campaign. KPub’s sales rose with the arrival of new customers.
Sticking to the basics
The team’s entry successfully passed Google’s algorithm, the review of Expert Googler,s and the GOMC Global Academic Panel. The team was eventually announced as the Regional Winner for the Asia & Pacific in August 2014, besting even graduate students and seasoned AdWords users from all over the globe.
Calica said the secret lay in sticking to the basics. “The other countries knew so much compared to us who were really new to everything. Still, we were able to use AdWords effectively because we knew how to adjust to changes and we knew what the basics were.”
The team said that having a shared goal and vision helped pull them together throughout the competition, despite their different backgrounds.
“One reason why we joined is because we wanted to learn about AdWords,” Teng said. “If you are really passionate to learn and passionate to win, you can undergo any kind of hardship.”
The team also owed its success to Professor Jonas, who to them was a mentor with a vision and structure. He was constantly there for the team, readily sharing his experience as a practitioner of online marketing.
The 5 were awarded gadgets and a trip to Singapore in January 2015. They were invited to tour the Google Singapore office, where they witnessed how the company practiced a culture of collaboration and sharing amidst diversity.
Globally-competitive Filipino businesses
The team was delighted that their win became further proof of how Filipinos are globally competitive.
Joven believed that it was Filipino talent and not the platform that got them through. “We started out not knowing anything about this but we still managed to be champions because AdWords is just a tool,” Joven said. “You just have to have a strong marketing background.”
Their entry aimed to encourage other Filipinos to discover online marketing and how tools such as Google AdWords can help grow local businesses and boost the economy.
“Even those small corporations like the one we partnered with can launch their own marketing advertisements,” Lao said, sharing how small enterprises in the Philippines can now compete with bigger ones thanks to tools like AdWords.
For the team, as long as businesses use their growing knowledge of technology and keep on studying various tools at their disposal, they can show the world that Filipinos also have world-class talent in marketing.
“Filipinos are inherently very street smart and madiskarte (resourceful),” Yao said. “It just goes to show we can really be at par with the best. It’s really a matter of putting your mind to whatever you’re doing.” – Rappler.com
Applications for the 2015 GOMC are now closed. However, interested applicants may pre-register for the next edition at https://www.google.com/onlinechallenge/.
- This article originally appeared on Rappler