R.I.P. GOMC (2008-2017)

Something very dear to me was taken away.

Yesterday, I learned that Google decided to discontinue the Google Online Marketing Challenge (GOMC) after ten years of great impact.

In all my years of teaching, I have had no other experience quite like the Google Online Marketing Challenge (GOMC).  My students echo the positive sentiment.

For an outsider who has never participated, the GOMC probably appears like some kind of marketing competition, which it was, but, it was so much more than that.

To me, the GOMC was the ideal framework to bring professors, students, alums, practitioners, companies, non-profits, and recruiters together in a very synergistic way. The GOMC had many unique elements that motivated all of these stakeholders to do some really good things for each other.  We created, we built, we learned, and we shared a competitive spirit.

Colleagues from around the world collaborated to learn about online marketing and create research and teaching ideas designed around the GOMC and Google’s advertising and analytics products. We conducted workshops and coached each other on how to help students learn within the GOMC framework.  We enthusiastically used the GOMC to give 120,000 students a real sense of what it is like to run a live campaign for a client, while helping them to explore their passions and potential. We assisted 15,000 companies and nonprofits from around the world in developing a stronger online presence.  We engaged alumni and practitioners through joint explorations of the dynamic online marketing environment. Courses, curriculum, and assignments were designed around the GOMC because we believed in the value of the GOMC.  We had recruiters and agencies vying to hire the students who participated in the GOMC.

Most importantly, for me, all of the GOMC stakeholders ultimately grew together into an opportunistic, forward-thinking, and global learning community with a common mission of inspiring one another and helping each other to succeed. 

That global learning community was dealt a heavy blow — with no warning, no detailed explanation as to why this was done, and no chance for stakeholders to provide arguments about why the GOMC is important to remain.  I understand that evolving the GOMC to “free digital skills training” is a worthy student development endeavor, and is certainly more scalable and cost-efficient than the GOMC, but that idea lacks one crucial element…people …people with the ability to interact and foster relationships that are critically important to business success. Professors were the linchpins in the GOMC framework, connecting students, alums, practitioners, companies, non-profits, and recruiters in meaningful ways because of and around Google’s flagship product — AdWords.   

As a 10-year veteran professor of the Google challenge I am truly grateful to Google for all of the wonderful outcomes from the GOMC, such as meeting talented Googlers and watching students develop in order to obtain great jobs and start companies.  But I also am feeling upset about the loss of such an incredible and successful teaching framework.  There isn’t one word to encapsulate my reaction, but I definitely feel sad, stunned, disappointed, and heartbroken.

What will I do without the GOMC? I am uncertain at this point since I recently got the news, but I will seek opportunities and remain optimistic about the situation, hoping that when one door closes, another one opens.

Many people have reached out to me to express their grief. I am directing such individuals to Google’s designated form to share their GOMC story. At some point, I will definitely share my story on this blog and with Google.  Until then, R.I.P. GOMC (2008-2017). 

You will be missed.  And not just by me.  Here are some other reactions.



6 Comments on "R.I.P. GOMC (2008-2017)"

  1. As an employer, I’m deeply disappointed in Google’s decision. The Google challenge served as a method to truly teach college students about Google AdWords prior to graduation, making them better prepared for the digital marketing positions available in the workplace today. While there are training videos, they do not provide an accurate, hands-on, kinesthetic learning approach and do not provide the valuable experience that hands-on learning in real client situations that the GOMCHA provides. For example, even the low budget of only $250 provides a real-life challenge of prioritization and preserving digital ad budget over a given timeframe.

    The hands-on nature of the GOMCHA program also allowed marketing students to test out working in Google AdWords to determine if they enjoyed that type of work. Many students enter college marketing programs without any true exposure to digital advertising management or understanding what it entails. Many students initially enter the field of marketing assuming that marketing is about creativity and bold ideas. But in today’s world, that’s actually only a small fraction of what marketing has become. Today’s marketer has to be analytical more than creative, and working with Google AdWords provides a great experience to understand the need for analysis. Even in the platform itself, creativity is only a small portion of AdWords. So much of AdWords is really focused on analysis: Which campaigns are performing best? Which keywords should be added? How can Quality Score be improved? Should bids be increased?

    I certainly hope Google will reconsider this decision. We’ve hired so many students from this program, and it’s been helpful to us and our clients to work with employees who are ready on the first day of employment to offer insights and help manage accounts effectively.


  2. I couldn’t have expressed my sentiments better. The GOMC was an invaluable experience that created synergy among educators, students and businesses. It’s sad (and somewhat heart wrenching) to see this ecosystem disappear.


  3. First of all i would like to say congratulations to Theresa B. Clarke for transferring success to her students so they won this year too. As GOMC discontinuing their functioning, everyone is sad as it was providing a great opportunity to learn digital marketing with dominating advertising platform called AdWords. I posted a long comment on GOMC G+ page regarding why Google is discontinuing their functioning. I also participated in the same challenge this year and got a rating of finalist in social impact I’m a bit disappointed that didn’t make it to become a winner, if I had someone like Theresa B. Clarke as a professor then must help me reach that position. JMU guys you are lucky.


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