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McIntire, Engineering, College Students Place in Top 12 Percent Worldwide in 2014 Google Online Marketing Challenge

October 24, 2014

For the second year in a row, McIntire students, along with Engineering and College students, excelled in the Google Online Marketing Challenge (GOMC), with all five UVA student teams placing in the top 12 percent worldwide and in the top 10 percent in the Americas region. Two of the five teams finished in the top 5 percent worldwide and in the top 4 percent in the Americas region.

GOMC is the largest worldwide real-time analytics competition, with more than 2,500 student teams developing and running an online advertising campaign for a business or nonprofit organization over a three-week period. Teams are tasked with improving their client’s digital presence by first using web analytics to monitor, measure, and analyze user survey and clickstream data, and then using search analytics and online promotions to drive traffic and generate significant return-on-ad spend.

The Juice Laundry
One top-performing UVA team, which ranked 105 out of 2,540 GOMC teams worldwide (top 4.1 percent) and 27 out of 929 in the Americas region (top 2.9 percent), selected The Juice Laundry, a micro-juicery serving Central Virginia, as its client.

Applying web analytics methods, including user experience surveys, A/B testing, and conversion funnel analysis, as well as search analytics, members of The Juice Laundry team—Joshua Anton (McIntire ’14), Kendrick Junerto (A&S ’14), Apoorva Lonkar (Engineering ’15), Eduardo Contreras Velasco (McIntire ’14), and Arthur Wu (McIntire ’16)—achieved impressive results for the juicery:

•    Increased web traffic by 80 percent and sales by 20 percent over a three-month period
•    Attained a paid search click-through rate of 6 percent, double the industry average
•    Ran a highly successfully online marketing campaign, earning a return-on-ad spend of $2,535 for $500 spent

The Juice Laundry home page before (left) and after (right). Using web analytics methods, the UVA team optimized the company’s web presence, resulting in an 80 percent increase in web traffic and 20 percent increase in sales over a three-month period.

Laura Lee Designs
Another top UVA team, which ranked 120 out of 2,540 teams worldwide (top 4.7 percent) and 32 out of 929 in the Americas region (top 3.4 percent), improved the online presence of Laura Lee Designs, which sells high-quality beaded handbags and journals routinely featured at the Miss DC pageant and the Kentucky Derby, as well as in fashion magazines.

Like The Juice Laundry team, the team of Tyler Crown (McIntire ’14), Katie Mayo (Engineering ’15), Mark Nabor (McIntire ’14), and Suvd Tsolmon (McIntire ’14), using digital user experience best practices, also earned stellar results for their client:

•    Increased traffic to the website by 250 percent and halved the site’s bounce rate (i.e., the percentage of visitors leaving immediately)
•    Increased the average online session duration by 17 percent
•    Attained a remarkable 367 percent return-on-ad spend

After the team’s search analytics efforts, Laura Lee Designs ranked higher in search engine visibility than larger handbag retailers. At the end of the project, the company was invited to open a store on Amazon.

Laura Lee Designs’ home page before (left) and after (right) the UVA team’s improvements. The enhanced digital presence dramatically boosted web traffic and online engagement and cut the site’s bounce rate in half.

“The students excelled in the use of web analytics methods, not only making a strong showing in the competition, but, more importantly, generating value for the clients,” said Ahmed Abbasi, McIntire Information Technology Professor and Director of the School’s Center for Business Analytics. “Our students have performed remarkably well as a result of the skills acquired through the fusion of real-world relevance and academic rigor. Our industry partners from comScore, Marketing Mojo, and RKG work closely with the students, offering invaluable information and feedback based on the state-of-the-art for digital analytics.”

Members of the Laura Lee Designs team answer questions after their presentation to executives from McIntire’s Center for Business Analytics Advisory Board in spring 2014. From left to right: Students Mark Nabor, Suvd Tsolmon, Katie Mayo, Tyler Crown.