About the Online Marketing Challenge

  • What can students learn by competing in the Online Marketing Challenge?

    At the end of the Online Marketing Challenge, students should be able to:

    • Discuss online marketing and media planning.
    • Collaborate effectively in a professional group setting.
    • Explain the following concepts: clickthrough rate (CTR), landing page experience, campaign optimization, and conversion tracking.
    • Discuss the benefits of targeting advertising to a select audience.
    • Illustrate how technical and cultural factors affect the success of an online advertising campaign.

  • Why is the OMC a beneficial experience for students?

    The Online Marketing Challenge provides students with the opportunity to:

    • Gain relevant and valuable skills through a practical hands-on learning experience
    • Build a true relationship with a client and make a real-life social impact in their community
    • Gain exposure to the digital marketing landscape using real money on a live advertising platform
    • Become Google Ads Certified and put their skills to the test, showcasing their Google Ads knowledge and experience to potential employers

  • Is the Challenge just about Google Ads?

    Google Ads is a core part of the Challenge, but it's more about teaching and learning effective online marketing in general. Google Ads serves as a vehicle for gathering real-world data and discussing online advertising's role in an organization’s overall marketing strategy. Teams, however, must discuss other aspects of online marketing, such as website layout, in their client reports. The challenge is about real-world business applications of online marketing; Google Ads is just the platform.

Professor and Student Eligibility

  • Are students that participated in the Challenge in previous years eligible to participate in the OMC again?

    As long as you are still currently enrolled as a student at a higher education institution and you meet all other eligibility requirements mentioned in the Terms & Conditions, you may participate in the Challenge again.

  • Who can enter the Challenge?

    Any faculty member, lecturer or instructor currently employed by an accredited higher education institute is eligible to register as a professor. Participation in the Challenge is open to students from graduate or undergraduate programs, regardless of discipline.

    Persons who are (1) residents of US embargoed countries, (2) ordinarily resident in US embargoed countries, or (3) otherwise prohibited by applicable export controls and sanctions programs are not eligible to participate in the Challenge. Additionally, Professors or Students in any country that has recently become subject to the United States Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) sanctions are restricted from Google Ads and the Challenge. Students and Professors at Higher Education Institutes in Argentina and China are excluded from entering the Challenge. Please understand that the Ad Grants program is only available in these countries, and Google cannot guarantee a match in countries where Ad Grants doesn’t currently serve.

    Please see our Terms & Conditions for details.

  • What if a class supervisor isn't a professor?

    To simplify things, we use the term 'professor' to refer to any academic who is supervising student classes/teams in the Challenge. For example, he or she might be a lecturer or a researcher, but must be an academic employed by a higher education institution and conducting lectures or seminars for students.

  • What are a professor's responsibilities as part of OMC?

    Ideally, a professor will mentor and work with his or her teams to ensure they have a solid understanding of online marketing and the OMC. They are responsible for ensuring students receive OMC materials and submit their reports on time. Beyond that, it's up to professors to decide their level of involvement. Many professors incorporate the challenge directly into the course, while others serve as advisors/mentors.

  • Are there any limits on the number of professors per school or teams per professor?

    There is no limit on the number of professors that can register from the same university, nor any absolute limit on the number of teams per professor.

  • Do the professor/students have to come from the same school?

    Teams can be made up of students from different schools. However, the team will be registered as being from the university that the professor is registered under. Also, at least one student should be from the same school as the professor.

    For example, if a professor from University of X registers, the student team can be made up of a mixture of students from University of X and University of Y. If the team is featured on the OMC spotlight series, the team will be recorded as coming from the University of X.

  • Can student groups under the umbrella of a student club compete?

    Student clubs may enter teams under the direction of a professor, given the following conditions:

    • The students are enrolled in a higher education institution.
    • The professor is affiliated with the higher education institution.
  • I will be graduating before the end of the OMC, can I still participate?

    If you are a student during the registration and Pre-Campaign Report upload, you are eligible to participate. Students who have already graduated are not eligible to participate.

  • Aside from universities, which other schools qualify for OMC?

    Vocational schools, community colleges and other accredited institutions qualify as higher education. This is a standard and accepted term throughout the industry.

Challenge Requirements and Disqualification Criteria

  • Does the Challenge cost participants anything?

    No, it doesn't cost anything. Student teams will have access to $10,000 in Google Ads advertising credit from their nonprofit partner provided by the Ad Grants program.

  • Can teams have less than 2 or more than 5 members?

    All teams must have at least 2 and no more than 5 members, including the Team Captain. Unfortunately, no exceptions can be made to this condition.

  • Can students or their friends click on their own ads to improve the results?

    No. Google has practices and procedures in place to detect invalid clicks as part of the Challenge. Student teams, classes and institutions risk disqualification for excessive invalid clicks. The Google Ads Help Center provides information on how Google detects and handles invalid traffic.

  • Is there any disqualification criteria?

    Only those student teams that complete all program requirements as outlined on the Awards page and abide by all Reporting Guidelines will be eligible for a Certificate of Completion. Student teams that violate the Ad Grants program policies, make any changes to their Challenge account that fall outside of their agreement with their nonprofit partner, share their nonprofit's contact and/or account information outside of their registered group or violate any other terms mentioned in the OMC Terms & Conditions risk being disqualified and ineligible to participate in the Challenge again in the future.

  • Can we pause our campaigns after the ads start serving?

    Yes, student teams can pause their campaigns if needed to accommodate nonprofit needs.

  • I submitted our Google Ads Fundamental Assessment certificate over 10 business days ago and still have not received a matched nonprofit partner account. Why?

    Note that after you submit your Google Ads certificate in the Student Dashboard, you must click on the “Request Nonprofit Partner” button on the Nonprofit & Reporting tab in order to request a nonprofit partner. If you still see that option in your Student Dashboard, that means you never requested a nonprofit partner and you should do so in order to get matched.

  • I am a professor and receiving an error page when I click on the professor verification link sent to my university email after registering for OMC. How do I resolve this issue?

    If the Google account (Dashboard email address) you were logged into when completing the professor registration form is different from your university email address, you will need to follow the below steps in order to complete the verification process:

    1. Open your university email inbox and look for the professor verification email
    2. In another browser or incognito window in Chrome, log into your Gmail or Google account (Dashboard email address)
    3. Return to your university email inbox and copy the verification link
    4. Paste the verification link into a new tab of the window you are logged into your Gmail or Google account with and you should receive a confirmation page that your account has been verified
  • Does the campaign window start as soon as we receive a matched nonprofit partner?

    No, the campaign window starts the first calendar day after you upload your pre-campaign report which should be approved by your nonprofit partner.

  • Do I need to pause my campaigns at the end of the Challenge?

    Please discuss with your nonprofit partner and decide on the best option for them to maintain and continue to improve the results.

Google Ads

  • Do I need to enter my credit card or another form of payment into Google Ads?

    No Student or Professor should enter any form of payment into a Challenge Account or any other Google Ads account for purposes of participating in this Challenge. Google is not and will not be responsible for any such payment if a Student or Professor adds funds to a Challenge Account or any other Google Ads account for purposes of participating in this Challenge.

  • What should we do if our account got suspended?

    If teams are marked as credited and then later disabled, that means the accounts were disabled by the Google Ads system. Each team needs to make sure the Google Ads account is in compliance with Ad Grants policies and then contact their local Google Ads support team directly via phone or email, in order to get the issue resolved for their account. Students should not contact the OMC Team for help with policy issues like this in their account.

    Before you request to reactivate the Ad Grants account, please ensure you've checked the following:

    Students should not contact the OMC Team for help with policy issues like this in their account.

    OMC runs on a live advertising platform (Google Ads), therefore teams will be advertising alongside regular Google clients and face the same Google Ads account reviews and policies.

  • Our Google Ads account spent a few dollars over the daily budget of $329 USD. How is that possible?

    While all Ad Grants Google Ads Challenge accounts are only credited $10,000 a month, there may be some cases when an account might spend a few dollars over the credited amount as a result of an overdelivery credit. Student teams will not be disqualified for spending a few dollars over the $329 daily budget as a result of their Google Ads account automatically being credited for this reason.

  • Only the team captain’s email address was invited to have access to the credited Google Ads account. Does the team captain need to share their email and password with the rest of the team members, so everyone can actively manage the account?

    No, team captains should not share their Google account password. Instead, team captains can invite team members to also have access to the Google Ads account by following these steps.

  • How do custom ad schedules work, if the timezone of the Google Ads Challenge account is set to (GMT-07:00) Pacific Time?

    The ad schedules you set in Google Ads are based your account’s timezone. Therefore, you should adjust your ad schedule to account for any difference in your target customers' time zone. Learn more about custom ad schedules here.

  • What types of Google Ads advertising should teams use?

    The Ad Grants program offers text ads that appear on Google search result pages only. Please visit the Ad Grants Help Center for more information.

Challenge Logistics (the what, where, how and when)

  • How do I sign up?

    Check our homepage and Google+ Page for the latest news. Registration will be open all year long.

    To sign up, professors will need to use a Google account and also an email account with their university's domain. Once their professor has verified their account and has been approved, student team captains can begin registering for the Challenge using their approved professor’s university email address.

    When a new student team captain registers under their professor, the professor will need to verify the team captain in their Professor Dashboard before students are officially considered enrolled in the Challenge and can access the Student Dashboard.

    Students will need only one Google account to register and access the Student Dashboard. Once the team captain has access to the Student Dashboard, they will need to sign their team members up for the Challenge by inputting their names and email addresses on the Team Details page.

  • It has been over 5 business days and I have not received a confirmation email confirming the approval of my professor registration. What should I do?

    The OMC Team will approve professor registrations within 5 business days. If it’s been more than 5 business days since registering, it’s likely because you did not provide the necessary information requested in the professor registration form or you have not verified your registration. After submitting a professor registration, a verification email will be sent to your university email address and you must follow the steps in the email to verify your email address before the OMC Team can review and approve your registration.

    Also, remember you need to provide the following to be approved:

    • Your email address on the university domain.
    • A link to your profile page or listing on your university’s website. Your contact information (name/university email) needs to be visible on the page, otherwise you are subject to disapproval. Links to social media, blogs or other websites are not sufficient. If you don’t have a bio or profile page with your contact information listed on the university website, you’ll need to upload official documentation on university letterhead confirming your employment at the university for verification purposes.

    If you can confirm that you have provided all necessary information and have completed the verification process, and it has been more than 5 business days, please contact the OMC Team for assistance.

  • Where do students upload the campaign reports and request a nonprofit partner?

    Everything needs to be submitted through the Student Dashboard.

  • What's the timezone for Challenge dates and deadlines?

    This Challenge will be running all year long.

  • How can I communicate with other participants?

    We have a Google+ Page where you can interact with other OMC participants/alumni/fans. This is our primary communication channel.

  • What resources are available to help?

    Students who plan to participate in the OMC are encouraged to review our past live streams and complete the Digital Marketing Course, as the skills learned in this course will help shape your advertising goals and strategy during the Challenge. The Digital Marketing Course will also be helpful in preparation for passing the Google Ads Fundamentals Assessment.

    Apart from the Digital Marketing Course, there are ample resources available to help you learn about creating an effective online marketing campaign with Google Ads on the Help Center. We also recommend checking out the Google Ads Beginner's Guide, which is available in over 40 languages.

  • Is there a Professor Dashboard I can get access to?

    Yes, there is a Professor Dashboard, and it can be accessed by approved professors through the Google account they used during the OMC registration process.

  • I already have an Google Ads account under the email address I registered for OMC, how would this affect my access to my nonprofit partner’s account? What should I do?

    All Team Captains should create an Google Ads Manager Account, by following these instructions and invite their team members to have administrative access to the account.

    A Manager Account is an umbrella account that will allow you to link and manage existing Google Ads accounts without being invited directly to the individual Google Ads account. This gives the nonprofit users with administrative access to their individual Google Ads account the ability to terminate the relationship with your Manager Account at any time by unlinking their account, which will be their responsibility to do at the end of your partnership.

Requesting a nonprofit partner

  • Can a student team choose a nonprofit organization that they already know?

    No, but Google will try to assign a nonprofit organization to the student team based on their preferred location, language and vertical. If there is a specific nonprofit partner you'd like to work with that is already a part of the Ad Grants program, and has agreed to partner with your team, please have the organization fill out this form and email onlinechallenge@google.com and we'll look at need and availability to evaluate requests on a case by case basis.

  • Can student groups work with businesses/organizations based in another country?

    Yes, it is possible that Google will assign a nonprofit organization to a student team within the same timezone.

  • What obligations does the participating nonprofit have?

    The nonprofit organization should agree to the information below in order to participate in this program:

    • Connect with the student team to share information about your organization and goals.
    • Allow manager account access to your Ad Grants Google Ads account to the registered student team for at least 6 weeks.
    • Respond in a timely manner to student approval requests.
    • Have access to implement or adjust Google Ads Conversion Tracking and/or Google Analytics tracking code on your organization’s website.

    Student teams should reach out to their nonprofit partner for approval of the campaigns, including ad creatives, before going live. Ideally, the non-profit organization will take an active interest in the campaign, such as explaining what they do, discussing their online marketing objectives, and providing feedback on the proposed campaign strategy, interim campaign results and campaign changes.

    Please note that you will be acting as online marketing consultants and your role is to provide a service to the business. They are under no obligation to follow your recommendations and you should not always expect them to do as you say. The implications associated with acting as business consultants are a key learning objective of the Challenge.

  • I am having trouble getting connected with my nonprofit partner, what do I do?

    Some nonprofit organizations are quite small and have very limited resources to be able to respond in a timely manner. If you are trying to reach out to your nonprofit partner to kick things off, please wait for at least 3 business days, and follow-up if they don’t get back. If you’ve already followed up with your nonprofit partner twice with no success of getting a response, please reach out to onlinechallenge@google.com, forward your previous emails to the nonprofit partner and request a new partner.

Evaluation Process

  • Should teams focus on clicks, clickthrough rate, conversions, etc.?

    The aim of the Challenge is to help nonprofits develop effective Google Ads campaigns, and students should focus on the ultimate marketing goal of the nonprofit partner. CTRs and Conversions are important metrics to measure the success of the campaigns (donations generated, number of new volunteer sign-ups, and etc.). Students should help their nonprofit partner to set up Conversion Tracking properly in Google Ads or import goals from Google Analytics if the nonprofit hasn’t already.

  • Can Google provide feedback on students for grading purposes?

    Unfortunately, Google is not able to provide feedback on a team's results until the conclusion of the evaluation process. At the end of the Challenge, student teams that have completed all Challenge requirements will receive a personalized Ad Grants Certificate. Students who complete these requirements and receive a positive rating from their nonprofit partner will receive a Top Marketer Certificate, and will be invited to pitch their story to be featured in our Social Impact Spotlight Series.


  • What language should the reports be submitted in?

    At this time, all reports must be submitted in English.

    Here, you may find more details on our reporting guidelines.

  • Can a team re-submit the Pre-Campaign Strategy?

    The Pre-Campaign Report can be re-submitted through the OMC Student Dashboard until the team starts to make any changes to their nonprofit partner’s Google Ads account.

Google Ads Certification

  • How can I become Google Ads Certified?

    Review this article to become familiar with the Academy for Ads Google Ads Certification process.

Questions from Nonprofits

  • We have recently hired a marketing professional, how do we opt-out from this program?

    Please email onlilnechallenge@google.com directly, put “OPT-OUT REQUEST” as the subject line. Please include your Customer ID (in the format of XXX-XXX-XXXX) and a brief description of why you’d like to opt-out. Please note that it will take approximately 5-7 business days to process your request.

  • What should we do if we identify any malicious or suspicious activities from the student team?

    Student teams will create a manager account for you to link your Google Ads account. You can unlink your account from their manager account if you have sufficient evidence to prove there is malicious or suspicious activity.

  • Can we reverse all the changes the student team has made to our account?

    Yes. Student teams will save your Google Ads structure using Google Ads Editor and share a copy with you before they make any changes to your account at the beginning of the Challenge.

  • We have interns working at our organization to help us optimize our Google Ads account. Do they still need to register with this program to receive an Ad Grants Certificate?

    Yes. They would still need to register with this program as we have specific program requirements for them to complete in order to get a certificate.

  • Can we participate in this program again?

    Absolutely! We will confirm if you’d like to participate in this program again from the post-campaign survey, and match your organization with a new student team if you choose to participate again.