Digital Marketing

MGT 293, Spring 2014





Hema Yoganarasimhan

3204 Gallagher Hall


Office Hours: By appointment


Class Meetings:

Mondays, 9 – 11.50 AM, 1302 Gallagher Hall


Course Description and Objectives:

What is digital marketing? In this course, we use a broad definition of it: digital marketing is all the things an organization does online to support its business. Those things can include displaying online advertising and participating in social media, but they can also include online listening and monitoring, web analytics, search engine optimization, and email marketing. We will cover these approaches and other, nascent ones. Because this field is changing so fast, the course emphasizes underlying principles of the tools as well as habits and resources for identifying new trends. Two themes that cut across the course topics are 1) linking strategy and tactics and 2) measuring results.


The course has several hands-on components and assignments – both individual and team-based.


Major Course Learning Objectives

  1. Understand what activities comprise digital marketing and how to support marketing strategy with those activities.
  2. Use lessons from the digital media industries to inform business model decisions in other industries.
  3. Know what tools are currently available for listening and interacting online, use the most
established ones, and establish habits for keeping up-to-date with the latest ones.
  4. Write actionable objectives for digital marketing initiatives.
  5. Learn how to use web site analytics tools and know how to interpret the data.
  6. Know the major online advertising approaches and be able to make a case for how and why an
approach should be used.
  7. Recommend keywords (for websites and search ads) based on search behavior research and 
competitive analysis.
  8. Know the fundamentals of establishing search ad campaigns and interpreting their results.
  9. Integrate social media approaches into a digital marketing strategy.
  10. Understand the fundamentals of social network theory, social influence, and identification of opinion leaders.
  11. Develop your own personal code of ethics surrounding digital marketing activities.


Course Prerequisites:

MGMT/B/P 204 – Marketing Management

The course will draw on concepts from introductory marketing, economics, and statistics.


Student Expectations – IMPORTANT:

Š      You are expected to complete all required readings/videos and come to class prepared to participate in discussions.

Š      You are expected to know the basic statistical concepts covered in MGT/P/B 204 MGT/P/B 203A.

Š      During the course, we will learn how to use and interpret many different tools and social media services (e.g., Google Adwords, Google Analytics). It is your responsibility to sign up and learn the basic workings of these tools.

Š      The course will involve significant time investment in going over reading materials, watching videos, learning new tools, etc., over and above the homework assignments. If you feel that you cannot commit to this time investment, then this class is not for you.

Š      We will work with many digital tools/software in this class. So you are expected to bring a laptop to every class. However, do not open/use laptops/tablets/phones during lectures and class discussions, i.e., open a laptop only when you are asked to. Violations of this policy will count against your class participation points.

Š      You are expected to follow the University of California’s standards of ethical conduct. Ethical violations include, but are not limited to, cheating, plagiarism, aid of academic dishonesty, fabrication, lying, bribery, and threatening behavior. A copy of the Code of Academic Conduct can be found in your student handbook. Please read it before the first class. Students who are suspected of cheating will be immediately reported to Student Judicial Affairs.


Attendance and Class Participation/Contribution

It is important that you attend the first class where we will cover the main goals of the class and the assignments. If you cannot attend in your chosen location (Davis, Sacramento, San Ramon), you are expected to attend in one of the other locations.


As for other classes, if you have to miss class, you do not need to let me know. It is your responsibility to ask a classmate what you missed, to get all the relevant information from a classmate, and to make sure you complete any assignments that are due. If you ask me, “I am going to miss class, is there anything I need to do?” I will know you have not read this section, and I will be appropriately surly with you.


The main questions I ask myself when I evaluate class participation are “did this student move the conversation along in class?” and “how much did this student contribute to the learning of his/her classmates?”



Reading Materials:

This is a very new and fast changing field. Most of the textbooks are either outdated or written by so-called Marketing gurus, offering questionable wisdom. So we won’t follow a formal textbook for this class.


We will be using an extensive text packet that will cover materials from popular media, research articles, podcasts, white papers, and relevant book chapters.


However, if you plan to focus your career in this area, the following books might be a good investment. In the class, we will cover some material from them.


1.     Groundswell, Expanded and Revised Edition: Winning in a World Transformed by Social Technologies, by Charelene Li and Josh Bernoff

2.     Web Analytics 2.0: The Art of Online Accountability and Science of Customer Centricity, by Avinash Kaushik

3.     Advanced Google AdWords, by Brad Geddes


Some these books come with gift vouchers (around $50) for Google Adwords/Google Analytics. So any money you spend on them is effectively recouped.


In addition, I recommend doing outside reading/listening to keep yourself up to date with the field. Some good examples of websites/podcasts to follow are:



Lectures notes will be posted on Smartsite in advance of the class.


Class Discussion Forum

We will have a discussion forum in Smartsite for this class.


I will also post relevant articles and materials from the current news there. Some of the class assignments will consist of students (you) posting materials on this forum and discussing your classmates’ posts. Apart from that, I encourage you all to use the forum for discussing the latest happenings, ideas, and methods in digital marketing and social media.


You are expected to follow (at least generally, if not in detail) the trail of posts and discussions in Smartsite.


Key Tools and Methods

In today’s world, your success as a digital marketer rests heavily on your ability to master a few key web-based tools. In this class, the key tools that we will cover are:

1. Google Adwords

2. Google Analytics

3. Wolfram Alpha Facebook Analytics


All these tools are free and you should be able to access them. If possible, familiarize yourself with them before the class.


Assignments and Grading

1.     Listening and Monitoring Assignment – 30 points

2.     Driving and Measuring Traffic Assignment – 30 points

3.     Digital Marketing Strategy Assignment – 20 points

4.     Google Adwords Assignment – 30 points

5.     Social Network Analysis Assignment – 10 points

6.     Frontiers of Digital Marketing Assignment – 30 points

7.     Ethics Code Assignment – 10 points

Total points from assignments – 160 points (80%)


In class participation and contribution to the class forum – 40 points (20%)


Due Dates for Assignments and Submission Guidelines

Please upload all your assignment before the submission deadline in Smartsite (unless it is an in-class presentation, in which case upload it after the presentation). Your upload should have a time-stamp no later than the deadline. The deadlines for each assignment are posted on Smartsite.


Late assignments and hard copies will not be graded. If you have a health or personal emergency and cannot turn in the assignment in time, depending on the instructor’s discretion and hard evidence of emergency, you may be allowed to turn in the assignment later or given a new assignment.


Re-grading Policy

Any re-grade request will only be considered after a written request is received. Please consider the following before submitting material for re-grading:

Š      The instructor reserves the right to review and re-grade all material, not just the material in question.

Š      Your re-grade requests should concern only your material. Do not bring up your colleagues’ grades or ask for information on their grades.


Finally, since the class participation grade is inherently subjective, it is not subject to re- grade requests.








PROVISIONAL. See Smartsite for current information.


Planned Detailed Schedule

This is the plan for the class. The official schedule will be kept up to date on Smartsite, but this proposed schedule gives you a sense of what we will be doing in the class.


Class 1a – Introduction to Digital Marketing


What does digital marketing mean? Broadly outline of the five-spokes approach we will take in this class.



1.     Read the Syllabus carefully.

2.     Print and bring the Key Insights and Key Tools memo-sheets, posted on Smartsite.

3.     Key Digital Trends for 2014 by eMarketer. Available at:


Class 1b - Digital Listening and Learning


How can we listen to brand chatter systematically? What does it tell us about brand sentiments and how do we visually represent the data collected from digital listening?



1. Read about Nielsen’s BuzzMetrics Services at

2. On information graphics:

a.     Read Things that Make Us SMART (Norman), posted on Smartsite

b.     Read about Tufte’s concept of data-to-ink ratio at

c.     Read some of the recent posts at the Junk Charts blog

Check out this website for inspiration --

d.     Check out some of the information graphics at

What do you think of them? Do they have a good data-to-ink ratio?

e.     Totally optional, but fun:

Check out the OKCupid blog, which makes excellent use of infographics based on data from their online dating site. (Warning: PG-13.)

f.      Optional but possibly helpful for the Listening Assignment: Chapter 2 of Beautiful Visualization. Posted on Smartsite.


Class 2 – Web Analytics


We will look at what can be tracked—how and why, conversions and funnels, and e-commerce tracking. The main focus will be on Google Analytics.


1.     Before class, go over the Driving and Measuring traffic assignment, and come prepared to set up a website (it can be blank for now) and a Google Analytics account. We will explore the tool in class.

2.     To familiarize yourself with Google Analytics (GA), watch the series of videos posted here:

Do: We will share, discuss, critique, and vote on your Infographics.


Class 3a – Digital Marketing Strategy and Target Markets

We will learn how to write actionable objectives for digital marketing initiatives, based on the findings from the Listening and Monitoring Assignment. We will focus on frameworks to identify target markets and develop digital strategies.

Class 3b – Search Engine Optimization

We will examine strategies to improve a website’s search engine ranking. We will look at the dual aspects of SEO – website design and link structure. We will learn how to optimize website design, how to gain links and whom to link to.


1.     Read SEOMoz’s “The Beginners Guide to SEO,” Chapters 1-6


3.     Read the results of the 2013 survey of SEO professionals about what matters in search. The link to the main page is below, but you need to click through the different sections of the site to get the full results.

4.     Read “Inside the Box: How Google’s Algorithm Rules the Web,” Wired, Levy, March 2010.

Class 4 – Online Advertising and Targeting of Advertising


We will cover the online advertising, in its different incarnations (display, contextual, search etc.). We will then examine how online advertising differs from traditional advertising and then learn methods to measure returns to online ads.



1.     Read “The Online Advertising Industry: Economics, Evolution, and Privacy,” Journal of Economic Perspectives, Evans, 2009. Posted on Smartsite.

2.     Read these two blog posts from the Ad Ops Insider blog about the evolution of ad networks and exchanges.

a.     History of the Ad Exchange Landscape Part I: Rise of the Ad Networks (April 28, 2011).

b.     History of the Ad Exchange Landscape Part IV: The Ad Network Is Dead, Long Live the Ad Exchange (May 3, 2011) the-ad-network-is-dead-long-live-the-ad-exchange/

c.     Optional: Parts II and III of the series. You can find them by following the links starting from Part I (above).

3.     Read the New York Times Magazine article “Who Do Online Advertisers Think You Are?” Available at

a.     Optional – Try to replicate this experiment with a classmate. Choose opposing personalities, and pick ones that are not mentioned in the article. Post your experiences on the Smartsite forum.


Class 5 – Search Advertising

We will cover search ads, the sponsored links that show in search engines in response to search terms. Google’s system is called AdWords, and we’ll cover how to set up campaigns, how the bidding system works, and how to interpret the data.


1.     This link takes you to Google’s “Learning Center” study materials. Familiarize yourself with the materials in the “Fundamentals” section.

2.     Start an Adwords account and learn the basics of the Adwords tool.


Class 6 – Introduction to Social Media and Talking to the Social Web

In this class, we will start the second module of the class – social media. We will look at the key social media strategies, how to talk to connected consumers, and how to measure the return on investment for social media strategies.



1.     Read “Seven Guidelines for Achieving ROI from Social Media,” eMarketer, Ramsey, 2010. Available at:

2.     Read “What’s Your Social Media Strategy?” Harvard Business Review, Wilson et al., July-August 2011. Available at:


Class 7 – Identifying and Measuring the Impact of Online Opinion Leaders

In this class, we will discuss the concepts of social influence and peer effects. We will examine who are “online opinion leaders”, what are the methods to available to identify them, and the pitfalls involved in measuring ROI from influentials.


1.     Read “Identifying Opinion Leaders to Promote Behavior Change” by Valente and Pumpuang, posted on Smartsite.

2.     Read the highlighted portions of “Impact of Social Network Structure on Content Propagation: A Study using YouTube Data”, by Yoganarasimhan, posted on Smartsite.

3.     Read and work through the “Influenced!” worksheet, and come prepared to discuss it.

4.     Optional, but useful to browse through –

Class 8 – Engaging in Online Social Networks and Brand Communities

We will learn about two kind of social network marketing – marketing to consumers in a general social network and marketing to consumers using a dedicated brand community.



1.     Read “Social dollars: The economic benefits of online communities”, posted on Smartsite.

2.     Read the California Management Review Article “How to Foster and Sustain Engagement in Virtual Communities”, posted on Smartsite.

3.     Pick a brand community, explore it, and come prepared to discuss your insights.

4.     Explore Facebook’s advertising page:


Class 9a – Trust, Privacy, and Ethics

Trust is an important issue in all of marketing, in all of business. In this class, we will discuss what the big “trust issues” are in digital marketing, look at some examples of how trust issues are related to strategic objectives, and look at a few general strategies to building trust. We will also look at the ethical issues in digital marketing that have cropped up over the course of the term



1.     Read the highlighted sections of “Online Display Advertising: Targeting and Obtrusiveness,” Marketing Science, Goldfarb and Tucker, May-June 2011. Posted on Smartsite.

2.     Read the FTC’s most recent report on online privacy related best practices. Ignore the details, but try to browse through the whole document to get a sense of what FTC is trying to do.

3.     Read the WOMMA ethical guidelines.

Class 9b – Maintaining the Momentum and Key Takeaways


We will discuss the key takeaways and learning highlights from the class. We will then map out methods for maintaining momentum and remaining up-to-date in this fast changing area.



1. Fill out the Maintaining Momentum goal-sheet, posted on Smartsite, and bring it with you.

2. Complete the Key Insights and Key Tools memos, which you started in Class 1 and bring it with you.


Do: Present your Frontiers in Digital Marketing Assignment