The following is a guest post by Victor Tsen, leader of the Google Online Marketing Challenge winning team. As part of his victory, Victor recently visited the Googleplex in Silicon Valley and shares his experience below:
After many years of reading, watching and hearing about the Googleplex in Silicon Valley, I could not believe I was going to be heading there. After an early morning start and a 50-minute drive we arrived at the Googleplex visitor centre and were greeted by Googlers Lee Hunter and Karen Hudson, as well as global academic judges, Professor Jamie Murphy and Dr Larry Neale.
We were joined by the Americas regional winning team (Penn State University) and the two Americas finalist teams (James Madison University and Boise State University). All the teams were very friendly and it was a good feeling knowing that we have all come quite a long way participating in the Google challenge. Also I have to mention, true to what I have read, Google does have a fetish for lava lamps and has super fast, free wireless internet, which I gladly helped myself to.
Our first stop was the No Name Cafe for breakfast where I was greeted with a buffet containing a wide variety of mouth-watering food. This perk is definitely a great way to get people into work early and something I could really get used to.
After a very quick and filling breakfast we headed towards Building 1098 for presentations. In the first presentation we learnt about the history of Google and how the organisation works. It was very inspirational to hear how Larry Page and Sergey Brin started Google in a house garage and to see the company now as a multi-billion dollar corporation.
The 2nd presentation was on Google’s marketing operations. I’ve always wondered why Google never did much advertising for the products and services they offered, and the main reason being is that they have a marketing principle of “Letting others speak for you”. Their theory is if users (like you and I) like the Google product’s and benefit from them then we will spread the word to others.
One important thing I picked up from this presentation is that Google believes in launching products fast so that they can quickly improve and change them according to consumer feedback. Following this presentation was a quick break and I decided to duck into one of the many snack rooms, which are no more than 150 feet spread apart, to help myself to some drinks and snacks.
In the next presentation, Googler Karen Hudson gave us some feedback on our Google campaigns. Overall they were very impressed with all our campaigns, especially in the way we structured our accounts. Professor Jamie Murphy gave a quick run down on everyone’s campaign reports and mentioned that he had wanted to disqualify our team from the competition, because we managed to beat both his UWA graduate teams. I’m not sure if he was joking, but all I can say to you Professor Murphy is: “Better luck next time”.
Next, was a talk from two Googlers about the algorithm. Do you want to know how the secret algorithm that they used to short-list the campaigns works? Well, unfortunately it will stay a secret algorithm because not much was revealed. All we know is that the algorithm takes into account many factors and that most of the professors’ campaigns were not up to par with the majority of competing students’ campaigns.
We all received a well-deserved certificate and for the winners, our sweet Macbooks, which has finally turned me into a Mac-convert.
After a very satisfying (and free) lunch at the No Name Cafe we were given a tour of the Googleplex. Walking around Building 43 we saw pool tables, exercise balls, a big idea board, real-time live search queries and more lava lamps. Outside we saw the beach volleyball court, crews setting up for Zeitgeist 2008 and Stan the T-Rex. There is no doubt the work environment at Google is very cool with a great university campus feel. Professor Murphy told me they had bicycle stations for people to get around the campus and I even saw someone on a Segway when we arrived.
All in all, the trip to the Googleplex was just awesome and I definitely wished we could have stayed longer. I hope this was not be my last trip there and would love to also check out other Google campuses, especially Sydney Googleplex. Once again congratulations to all finalists and winning teams. I would also like to wish the best of luck to everyone competing in Google Online Marketing Challenge 2009.
More photos can be found on Gomcha.com.
On behalf of my team and I we would like to thank Google and everyone who helped develop and work on the Google Online Marketing Challenge, including Google Lee Hunter and Professor Jamie Murphy for kick-starting this competition and turning it into a reality, without their efforts we wouldn’t have been given the chance to win this trip to Google.
Thank you to the judges who loved our reports and picked us as the global winning team and also to our lecturer Dr Fang Liu for organizing and using this competition as part of our assessment.
A big shout out and thank you goes out to our client The Hangout for jumping on board with us and being such a pleasure to work with. I personally would like to thank my team members for being such a great team. You guys worked really hard and worked well together and for that I want to thank you all.