Marketing Students - Online Media Savvy?

28.Mar.11. OOX News

While the Middle Eastern market is still playing catch-up in exploring online avenues for marketing, it is also a fact that media agencies in the region have come to recognize the importance of integrating online advertising strategies into their media plans.

Now, because Marketing students are the future members of this industry, it is important to ask; are these incoming professionals equipped with the know-how to effectively use online media for their brand’s marketing needs?
OOXmonitor News talks to Marketing professors from AUD, UOWD, and Zayed University to find out how they prepare their students for entering a market where online advertising is fast-becoming integrated;
IMC Courses tackle Online Advertising
All three institutions have online media incorporated into the syllabus of their marketing and communications courses. Moreover, they are also offering electives that solely address E-Marketing.
“In our Introduction to Marketing class, we dedicate about three weeks talking about online, digital, viral, and social media marketing…We talk about it from a theoretical perspective—looking at some major theories and applying those models to online consumer behavior. We’re also looking at it from a media perspective in terms of metrics, tracking, effectiveness,” says Dr. Sara Kamal who teaches Media Management at AUD.
The course instructs students on media planning and buying, giving due emphasis to both traditional and new media. As per the course description, it covers topics such as quantitative and qualitative media evaluation, budget allocation, testing, and also inducts students into media practices in the Middle East. In discussing digital media, the class examines the different uses of online ad platforms such as email, display ads, portals, search engines, blogs, chat rooms, and social networks.
“I think that the online market is here to stay and that online media is growing. We are trying to emphasize that in our education and training because that’s what is needed,” remarks Kamal.
AUD, as well as in UOWD and Zayed University, it has been recognized that there is need for capacitating students with knowledge on how to properly use online advertising as part of the media mix. Students are made aware of the internet’s applications in the distribution, promotion, and branding of products. They are also immersed in issues like the marketing practices of organizations, characteristics of online consumer behavior, as well as the nuances and challenges of the online market in the region.
 Left to Right: Dr. Kathy Shen - UOWD, Dr. Ian Michael - Zayed University, Dr. Sara Kamal - AUD
Simulating Online Advertising in Class
Dr. Kathy Shen of UOWD describes that one challenge of using online media as an advertising platform is that it is always changing—and so, reference materials on the subject matter rapidly become obsolete. She believes that while books and journals are good guides to the subject, the students need to engage in activities that allow them to explore and exercise what they have learned about internet marketing.
In the three institutions, students have to undergo capstone classes (project-based courses) wherein they could do research on a certain company’s online advertising activity, or launch a campaign of their own.
In his Promotions Marketing class at Zayed University, Dr. Ian Michael tackles exploring new methods of communication. The final class project challenges students to come up with an optimal media plan for a hypothetical brand. “They have four choices between several types of advertising vehicles to promote their imaginary product. They have to justify their choice of media in terms of budgeting and effectiveness,” explains Michael.
The professor makes an interesting observation as he comments, “It is almost taken for granted that each and every group will choose to create a website to advertise.”
Students are definitely enthusiastic about online media, primarily because they are prolific internet users themselves. However, their professors take care in reminding them about the appropriate marketing context in which the use of online would be effective. “Not every Marketing Communications problem is solved by the use of online alone,” says Kamal.
“[Students] need to know how to integrate different marketing channels; how to do business both online and offline,” adds Shen.
All three institutions have evidently put effort in keeping students up to speed regarding the benefits and possible pitfalls of exclusively using online media in marketing. They have incorporated online advertising modules in IMC courses, and have sanctioned hands-on activities in which students can practice what they have learned in class.
Of course, there is only so much these institutions can do in readying students for entering the industry. And the instructors are well aware of this. As educators, Kathy Shen states that what they are aiming for is to instill in students the capability and competence to adapt and learn more once they become professionals.
While IMC courses today look promising in preparing future marketers for handling online media, it is only when these incoming professionals hit the floor that the effectiveness of their university training can be adequately tested.

By Staff Reporter

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