Google Makes Promotional Video At JMU

Posted: July 14, 2014

HARRISONBURG — What started as a Google competition for a college class ultimately landed Lindsay Keller a job with the company, and now it’s come full circle to make James Madison University the poster school for that contest.

Keller, who graduated with a marketing degree in 2011, was on the team that won the Google Online Marketing Challenge for the Americas that year. But she’s not the only one: JMU has had teams win big global titles in the competition in five of the six years since it started.

“I set very high expectations for my students,” said marketing professor Theresa Clarke, who advises the JMU teams competing to run the best marketing campaign for real clients using Google AdWords.

Clarke bases an entire course off the challenge, which might be what’s made JMU so successful at winning frequently. She estimated her students spend at least 15 hours a week working with their clients.

“It’s changed the lives of many of my students,” she said. “Some have changed their career paths because of the challenge.”

Google shot a promotional video for the challenge at JMU, using Clarke and Keller to show how it gives students real-life experience that makes them so marketable after college, they might just be scooped up by Google itself.

The video, which just went live recently, features Keller, now a Google online specialist in San Francisco. As a student, she worked with SOS Advertising here in Harrisonburg, using Google AdWords to drive online traffic to the business’ website.

Keller did the Google Online Marketing Challenge her senior year and said the experience gave her an extra edge in job interviews. She started at a company in Charlottesville, but now works full time helping small and midsize businesses understand how to get the most out of their advertising budgets at Google.

 “I think the biggest thing obviously when you’re coming up to the end of your college career is jobs,” she said. “What are you going to do after school? And I think having real world experiences like this is really motivating for students.”

The video can be viewed at .

Contact Kassondra Cloos at 574-6290 or

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