You’ve got to hand it to Google for creativity. It created the local business referral representative program to enlist stay-at-home moms, college students, and others to get better data about local businesses and build AdWords awareness. (I was told by Google that the response to the program had been strong.) Now Google has developed the “Google Online Marketing Challenge.” According to the site, “student groups will receive US$200 of free online advertising and then work with local businesses to devise effective online marketing campaigns.”
As a practical matter, it seeks to create a global pool of college students (or MBA students) and turn them temporarily into search engine marketers for local businesses. It will be interesting to see how big the response is and whether it helps build Google AdWords awareness among local businesses in those markets where the competition takes off. The competition begins in February.
The program will potentially also create a great group of local marketing case studies that Google can then use in myriad ways for education or sales or training.
Google also said that an even simpler version of AdWords is coming next year: SimpleAds. Aimed at local businesses and resellers, it will seek to radically simplify AdWords adoption.