It's well known that online advertising is becoming increasingly important to the marketing mix. Now we're giving 21,000 students the chance to experiment and gain hands on experience of this medium -- and to empower small local businesses to harness the power of the web to attract more customers. In a vast global academic competition, business students from 466 universities in 61 countries will participate in the Google Online Marketing Challenge.

The competition offers student groups $200 vouchers to spend on Google AdWords™ advertising so that they can work with a local business they choose to devise effective online marketing campaigns. The teams will outline a strategy, run the campaign, assess their results, and recommend ideas to further develop the businesses' online marketing.

Students will have three weeks to mastermind their strategy, and will pit their marketing minds against thousands of others worldwide. During this period, the various teams will submit two competition reports: one before they begin the Challenge, and one after the campaign has ended. An international panel of professors will judge the entries, and will choose winners based on the success of the campaigns and the quality of the reports.

We'll post an update once the winners are announced in July. Read more about the Challenge.