A team of students at South East Technological University (SETU) in Wexford has been making an impact in the world of digital marketing.

Students at SETU’s Wexford Campus were awarded a grant of over €100,000 from Google that is being used to promote a variety of non-profit organisations online. This funding is part of Google’s Nonprofit Marketing Immersion project that matches digital marketing students and volunteers around the world with non-profit organisations who need support with digital advertising.

A team of SETU students was formed to collaborate with the organisations to understand their promotional goals, for example, brand awareness or event promotion. After establishing these goals, the students designed and implemented pay-per-click digital marketing campaigns, custom-made to meet the organisations’ needs.

For example, in some cases, the aim was to drive more traffic to the organisations' websites and boost awareness. An example of this was described by one of the project partners, Cliona Maher, Artistic Director at Clonmel Junction Art Festival. Cliona commented, "Our multidisciplinary arts festival includes theatre, music, film, visual arts, and participatory activities, as well as family-friendly events. The marketing challenge is to present the festival in a way that represents our diverse offering in a digestible and accessible way. After working with the students at SETU’s campus in Wexford, we saw great online engagement and a definite impact on website traffic. It's been very, very positive."

The student teams came together from diverse subject areas, including business, visual communications and design, and tourism and event management degree courses. SETU lecturer and project co-ordinator, Owen Brady, commented, "Having a mix of different specialisms on real-world projects like these gives better outcomes for the partners. The diverse thinking behind creative problem-solving also gives breadth to student learning."

Over the four-month project, SETU students are placing over half a million ads in web searches, generating over 50,000 visits to the websites of its partner organisations. The campaign infrastructure created will serve the partners indefinitely, with ongoing funding from Google ensuring a lasting impact.

The students are partnering with eight organisations, including USA-based Living Voices in Seattle; Bartholomew County Libraries in Indiana; Charlotte Lit Festival in North Carolina; Major College and Career Prep in Florida; and Pet Vet Relief in Dallas. In Ireland, the team works with Clonmel Junction Arts Festival and South Tipperary Arts Centre on their online advertising. Further afield in Kenya, the students support Happy Me, Happy You, a community-based organisation fighting poverty and hunger. These social enterprises operate in a wide range of fields, from cultural festivals to animal welfare.

Commenting on this legacy, Rachel Atkins, director of Living Voices said, "We're so thankful to have the SETU student team in charge of this, and for Google's funding. As a small company without anyone skilled in this area in-house, having the students jump-start us into the world of advertising in search engines has been huge for us. We couldn't have done this without the support of SETU”. Living Voices is a Seattle-based charity that brings to life social history through the mediums of live performance with audio and video, visual aids, and discussion, preserving how the world looked, sounded, and felt during a significant time in history.