This year we held the second Google Online Marketing Challenge — a global university competition, launched last year, that gives undergraduate and post-graduate students hands-on exposure to online marketing. Working with their professors, teams receive the equivalent of US$200 to spend on Google AdWords advertising, then work with a local business to devise an effective online marketing campaign. Teams are given three weeks to mastermind the strategy before submitting a campaign report to an international judging panel of professors.

This year's Challenge was bigger and better in every way — more teams, more students, more universities and a significant improvement in the quality of campaigns and reports. We're thrilled to report that 2,187 teams took part from across 57 countries, representing a 36% increase in participation from last year. The Challenge continues to develop as one of the world’s biggest university competitions.

We're excited today to announce the results. Our global winners come from Deakin University, Australia and were taught by Chia Yao Lee and Bardo Fraunholz. The team of Andrew Kidd, Richard Blakely, Kevin Fung, Clinton Hinze, Katalin Kish and Howard Lien worked with a local kids play center,, to create a well-crafted campaign that highly impressed our judges.

Clockwise from top left: Richard Blakely, Chia Yao Lee (professor), Katalin Kish, Kevin Fung, Bardo Fraunholz (professor), Howard Lien, Andrew Kidd, Fiona and Mike (from Little Tigrrs), Clinton Hinze and Mick, The Big Hearted Tiger

Team spokesman Andrew Kidd gave us some insight into their winning campaign:
"After discussions with the business owners, we decided we needed to conduct three separate campaigns. One would promote the play center to customers outside a 10 kilometre geographic radius, another would attract more mothers' groups to the center, and the third one would attract more party and group event bookings. Visitors to their website more than doubled compared with the same period last year. We knew we had developed a strong campaign — but to win the global competition is outstanding."
The team and their professor are off to Mountain View, California for a tour of the Googleplex. To help in their ongoing studies, each team member will also receive an Apple MacBook Pro.

There were also three regional winners: for the Americas, the winning team comes from James Madison University in the U.S., while a team from the Warsaw School of Economics in Poland won for Europe, the Middle East and Africa. In the Asia Pacific region, the winners come from the International College of Management in Sydney, Australia. Here are more details about our winners.

We developed the Challenge to benefit everyone involved. We're delighted that thousands of small businesses around the world have seen their online presence improved in just three weeks. Professors tell us that the Challenge has allowed them to deliver a unique, practical teaching and learning exercise. For those students that took part, we hope they have developed some useful online marketing skills which they can use when they graduate and enter the workforce.

For anyone interested in competing in the 2010 Challenge, formal registrations will open later this year, but in the meantime you can register your interest.