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INI Student Among Winners in Global Marketing Competition

August 09, 2010

INI student Apinand Dabpetch and his five Carnegie Mellon teammates won first place in the Americas region in the 2010 Google Online Marketing Challenge. Dabpetch, a student in the INI's bicoastal Master of Science in Information Technology - Software Management (MSIT-SM) program, was among 3,000 students from 70 countries to participate in this year's Challenge.

The Google Online Marketing Challenge is a global marketing competition where teams of three to six students use $200 worth of online advertising with Google AdWords to devise an effective online marketing campaign for a local business. Campaigns run for three weeks before teams assess their results, provide recommendations to their business, and submit a final report. Then, Google runs its Challenge-specific algorithm across all the campaigns' data to determine the top 15 teams before the judges select a global winner and one winner from each of three regions: the Americas; Europe, the Middle East and Africa; and Asia Pacific.

Dabpetch learned of the competition through his Strategic Uses of Information Technology course, taught by Professor Param Vir Singh from the Tepper School of Business. Singh encouraged his students to participate, and Dabpetch's prior interest and experience in search engine optimization and online marketing made him eager to "take the Challenge."

With Singh as their mentor, Dabpetch and his teammates developed an online advertising formula for Threads 4 Thought, an online sustainable clothing store. Dabpetch was responsible for identifying the key aspects of a successful AdWords campaign, structuring a campaign that would reflect those aspects, and making adjustments as the competition progressed. Squeezing the most out of their $200 budget, the team delivered over 700 visitors in three weeks to Threads 4 Thought's website at the cost of $0.28 per click, significantly lower than the clothing industry's average cost of $0.50 to $1.00 per click.

"For them [Threads 4 Thought], the $200 worth of advertising is not as valuable as our online advertising formula," Dabpetch said. "The company can use this campaign, continue to run it with bigger budgets, and get higher returns by many folds."

In addition to their recognition as regional winners, Dabpetch and his teammates will each receive a new laptop and an all-expense-paid trip to the Googleplex in Mountain View, Calif., where they will meet the creators of AdWords. While Dabpetch is excited for this meeting, the trip to the Googleplex will be less adventurous.

"I've recently relocated to Carnegie Mellon's Silicon Valley campus as part of the INI's bicoastal program. My apartment is within walking distance to the Googleplex, but I guess I can be reimbursed $3 for gas money," Dabpetch joked.

This competition reinforced the lessons Dabpetch has learned on how to take an analytic and systematic approach to data, as well as how to use statistics and trends to benefit business. After graduating in December 2010, Dabpetch hopes to apply these skills and his overall INI experience to a future career in software management. 

"I'd like to thank the INI and Carnegie Mellon for providing me with such a great academic experience that I've used in this competition and industry exposure that I'm currently enjoying. I couldn't expect anything more," Dabpetch said.