The Madison Digital Marketing Experience (MDME) at James Madison University


“Instead of worrying about what you cannot control, shift your energy to what you can create.”
Roy T. Bennett

Roy T. Bennett’s quote inspired me greatly after I learned about Google’s discontinuation of the GOMC (Google Online Marketing Challenge) on August 1, 2017.  Since that time, I dedicated a lot of thought, time, and energy towards building an alternative course project for my JMU students.  It was a daunting feeling as I tried to come up with a project as realistic and as meaningful as the one created by Google.  But I was up for the task.

My working name for the new project endeavor was the Madison Online Marketing Challenge (MOMC), however that name never quite rang the right kind of bell for me.  It wasn’t fitting into my vision for a significantly new course direction and associated project.

I needed a new name.  About a week ago, that name finally came to me, as most of my ideas do, in those early morning hours when I am in a half-awake-half-asleep state.

The new name is the Madison Digital Marketing Experience or MDME for short. On a side note, I feel “MDME” has a much better ring to it than “MOMC”.

Why “Madison”? I absolutely wanted to include “Madison” as part of the name in honor of our 4th U.S. President, but also to honor my JMU students and alums who contributed to the rich history of GOMC successes between 2008-2017.  Their phenomenal talent brought in more GOMC titles than any other school in the world as they won trips, technological prizes, and $85,000 in social impact donations from Google.  Without question, my MKTG 477 and MBA 625 courses evolved and grew better every year because of the JMU community’s steadfast support.

Why “Digital Marketing”?  The phrase “Online Marketing” felt outdated to me.  Starting in the mid-90s I began to work, teach, research, serve, and consult with many marketing endeavors associated with technological mediums, especially the world wide web.  Since that time, the industry used many different labels for this emerging form of marketing such as online marketing, electronic marketing, e-marketing, www marketing, web marketing, internet marketing, marketing on the internet, digital marketing, digital promotion, technological marketing, data-driven marketing, and more.  *At present, digital marketing appears to be the most commonly used term worldwide so I presume the industry has finally come to a consensus on a name.  Time will tell.

Why “Experience”?  The word “Challenge” implied something heavily competition-oriented.  Due to the discontinuation of the GOMC, my restructured course project was moving away, but not completely away, from the competitive aspects and more towards career exploration/preparation and skill development/mastery.  The word “Experience” kept emerging for me in different places and in different forms.  I began to feel as though the word was almost SHOUTING AT ME.  Little did I know that “Experience” was the word I was seeking all along.  For three months, it was right there in front of me, quite naturally too, the entire time.  I came to realize that I love the positive emotion that can be associated with the word “experience.”  Further, it fits my vision for creating a series of meaningful learning events that provide practical contact with and observation of marketing phenomena.

There we have it, the Madison Digital Marketing Experience.  

So what is the MDME?  In sum it represents one of my new course projects, embedded within an entirely restructured course with several new surprises.  The MDME is an internal competition within JMU that is modeled after the former GOMC.  Operationally supported by the College of Business and Silverback Strategies, it is designed to take JMU students into a much deeper level of digital marketing compared to the last decade.  Student outcomes will be judged by JMU alums who presently work in the digital marketing industry, as well as my agency partners and clients of our work.  The course requires financial support in order for students to run real campaigns in Google AdWords as well as other search and advertising platforms.  Fortunately, we received generous financial support from Dr. Andy Wood through the Department of Marketing Foundation, Maureen R. Arvai (JMU Alum and Principal, Dogwood Digital Communication) and James Carter (Immerge Technologies).  I am in the process of preparing a pitch for the Madison Trust in February to see if they might further support the MDME efforts.  And of course, I welcome additional support that anyone is willing to provide to us.

There are so many people who directly or indirectly helped me, or offered to help me, develop the MDME concept as a new and improved course experience.  I am so blessed to work with many special individuals who possess such gifted expertise, spirit, motivation, and energy.  My deepest gratitude is extended to several individuals who served as an advisory board for the course restructuring process at JMU.  Most notably I wish to thank James Carter (Immerge Technologies), Mollie Delp (Workshop Digital), Lauren Miller (Seer Interactive), Michelle Miller (JMU), Chris Myers (JMU), Andrew Nelson (Silverback Strategies), Kelly Pollhammer (Jellyfish Online Marketing US), Lynn Radocha (JMU), and Rachel Schnorr (Merkle).  In their own unique ways, each of them provided support and innovative ideas to keep my motivation and momentum going.  A very special thanks goes to Katie McGee (NCC Media) for creating awesome MDME logos for this blog post on such short notice.  Your creative and design talents are much appreciated and I can’t wait to use your logos in my course materials.  I also wish to recognize some of my talented colleagues who are passionate about digital marketing.  They rock and they inspire me more than any words could ever convey!  No matter what part of the three-legged stool where we engaged (teaching/research/service), and whether I talked to them weekly or once per year, I am grateful for the exchange of ideas through our blogs and scholarly publications, social media posts, conversations at conferences, email threads, videoconfrerences, and so much more.  These extraordinary professors are Harold Boeck (École des sciences de la gestion – ESG UQAM), Wojciech Czart (Adam Mickiewicz Univesity – Poland), Liz Gray (Fanshawe University), Jim Jansen (Qatar Computing Research Institute, HBKU), Jamie Murphy (University of Eastern Finland), Lyle Wetch (Memorial University of Newfoundland), and Debra Zahay-Blatz (St. Edwards University). Final thanks goes to the Department of Marketing faculty, especially my dearest colleague of all, Bud Clarke, for supporting my academic endeavors and big ideas.




*Google, Trends. “Google Trends”. Google Inc. Retrieved 11/30/2017.

4 Comments on "The Madison Digital Marketing Experience (MDME) at James Madison University"

  1. What a phenomenal new course for JMU students! You are to be commended for the time and effort you have devoted to creating a new course to take the place of the Google Challenge. Great job!


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