Internet Marketing Missing from College Classrooms

By Adam Garcia, Paid Advertising Supervisor

The class I teach at DePaul is wrapping up this week, so I wanted to write about how there is a major void in the average college curriculum today. It seems as though internet marketing has been completely overlooked by those who determine the courses a college offers.


I teach MKT 395, Internet Marketing, at DePaul University. It’s an undergrad class meant for juniors and seniors who want to round out their marketing program or gain some insight into an industry they may not otherwise have access to. I cover a brief history of the internet such as the first browser and early websites, metrics for digital marketers, and what I consider to be the four main channels: affiliate, display, email and search (paid and natural). I decided to structure the class as an intro to internet marketing after learning that DePaul doesn’t offer any classes on the subject.

The students that were registered this quarter were extremely interested in learning more about a medium that they use every day. They’re on the web via numerous devices and had some idea that they were being marketed to but had no concept of how it worked or what it took to research, develop, launch, report and manage digital campaigns. During the first class, my questions to them were about their overall concept of the web: what do you do on the web, what website do you use most often and what was their first memory of the web. A majority of them said that they remember first getting on the web via AOL and that Facebook is the number one site. They were like most college students on the web. I also learned however that none of their prior professors talked about internet marketing.


According to e-Marketer, US Online Advertising Spend will grow to $42 billion by 2013. There are numerous classes for other industries that don’t have nearly the same spend. How is this possible? The digital marketing industry is one of the fastest growing industries in recent history so I’m amazed that this could be overlooked by colleges. One channel within internet marketing, search, is projected to be $15 billion alone in 2012.

What To Do

The fact that college educators have missed this point scares me. The digital marketing industry is no longer a fad; it’s not going anywhere. We as internet marketers need to promote our industry more. We need to make sure that the next wave of college grads has an understanding of what it is and how it fits into the overall marketing mix. They need to understand how the various channels work, and what it takes to be successful in the various channels online.

After just one quarter, I’m realizing that if we are proactive, we can influence and have a positive impact on future online marketers.


Dave McAnally said...

This is something that has bothered me for awhile too and I'm glad you brought it up. Everytime we have new-hires who are fresh from college, I always ask them about what kind of search experience college gave them and almost invariably, it's like "they didn't touch on any of it" (whether or not they actually did is probably another story, but hey, perception is 9/10th of the story right?)

The perception I get from listening to professors talk about this is that at the academic level, they are afraid they can't keep the curriculum relevant from semester to semester. Any book on the subject is basically out of date the minute it hits the shelves (at least in its practical applications). Personally, I think that's a bit of a cop-out because all the fundamentals of search (including SEO) don't really change. There are plenty of online resources in which students could gain exposure to search without text books (I'm given to understand those are going the way of the dinosaur anyway). It's cool you're teaching the class because I suspect another problem is a lot of colleges don't actually have professors who have any search knowledge to pass on to their students. So the more search marketers get in front of students, the better.

Copyright © 2008 Resolution Media, Inc. All rights reserved.