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Larissa Cookson, Lindsay Keller (Team Captain), and Molly Shea.

Three James Madison University 2011 graduates were named the Americas Regional Winner in the Google Online Marketing Challenge, a global online marketing competition. Under the direction of Theresa Clarke, professor of marketing, the JMU team of Lindsay Keller, Molly Shea and Larissa Cookson took the top prize in the Americas region. 

According to Clarke, in the 2011 Challenge there were 35,000 students competing from more than 95 countries. "When Google states that our team has won the Americas region, that means that our JMU team was the best in North, Central and South America," said Clarke. "This is pretty amazing." 

In the spring the three students took Clarke's special topics marketing class to prepare for the Challenge. "This is one of the most unique and exciting marketing classes offered at JMU," said Cookson. "The connections I made and skills I learned through this class are invaluable." 

The three-member team won the top award by creating a Google AdWords marketing campaign for SOS Advertising, a local business specializing in promotional products. According to the parameters of the competition the students had to "recruit a small business who has a website but doesn’t currently use AdWords." Along with their professor they then choose a three-week window to create, optimize and refine their campaign. Pre- and post-competition reports round out the Challenge requirements. 

Google and a panel of independent academics from all over the world select the winning teams based on the success of their campaign and the quality of their competition reports. "We all dedicated a lot of time and put a lot of pride into our campaign, so we are so happy to see such amazing results in the Challenge," said Cookson. 

"The challenge was an incredible learning experience that equipped me with valuable skills as I prepared to enter the career world," said team captain Keller, now a junior account manager at Search Mojo, a search-engine marketing agency in Charlottesville, Va. 

”The Google Online Marketing Challenge project is one of the main reasons that our firm actively recruits graduates from JMU,” commented Janet Driscoll Miller, President and CEO of Search Mojo. "So few colleges and universities offer courses in Internet marketing that it can be difficult to find recent college graduates who have any exposure to online marketing as a whole." 

A JMU team also won the Americas Region in the 2009 Challenge. Like the 2009 team, in October this year's winners will travel with Clarke to Google's headquarters in California. 

Visit Theresa Clarke's blog at: 

JMU's 2009 Google Challenge winners 

Published: Thursday, August 18, 2011

Last Updated: Friday, February 16, 2018

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