Zsolt Katona - Digital Marketing

  Home | Research | Teaching | Dancing |  

Syllabus - Digital Marketing (XMBA296-3 - Summer 2014)

Note: this is document is subject to change. Check back before each block.
Last Update: July 28, 2014


This course gives an overview of digital marketing with taking an in-depth view of online advertising, the usage of new media for marketing purposes and social networks. The goal of the course is to offer students a working knowledge of how to take advantage of the Internet to effectively market a product or service.

Although some of the more traditional digital marketing techniques have been around for a while, these mostly involved a one-way channel from the firm to the customer. Latetely, however, businesses worldwide have been facing a fundamental change in the ways that consumers interact with brands and each other. Social media has helped give consumers a voice, connect them with their friends and other like-minded consumers, and has given them considerable power over marketers and brands.

The course will cover the more traditional areas of search and display advertising as well as offer an overview of how marketing has (and has not) changed due to the rise of social media. It will equip students with the relevant knowledge, perspectives, and practical skills required to develop marketing strategies that leverage the opportunities inherent on the Internet, including social media and consumer-to-consumer social interactions for achieving business and marketing goals. The emphasis of this course is on understanding the various platforms the Internet offers to marketers, how to build social marketing strategies, and how to track their effectiveness.

From a marketing perspective, consumers now have louder voices than they used to, they are more socially connected than they ever have been, they expect more from brands, and information reaches them faster than ever before. In light of these fundamental changes, the overarching goal of this course is to help you get a clear perspective on what's really going on in marketing in the age of social/digital/mobile so that you can start to see where the true value - to consumers, to marketers, and to other corporate stakeholders - lies. The course covers a number of topics including

  • The differences and interaction between offline and online media
  • Two-sided markets and media platforms from the marketing perspective
  • Online Channels to Reach Customers
  • Details of search and display advertising
  • Social networks online and offline (graph theory, sociology, information diffusion)
  • Consumer behavior and digital media
  • The usage of "big data" in marketing
  • Measuring effectiveness using consumer data and experiments
  • Brand strategies on the Internet
  • Best marketing practices for paid and unpaid media
  • B2B marketing in the digital age

Session Details

Block I - Introduction

Required Reading

  • "United Breaks Guitars"

5/1 - 1. Introduction: Marketing in the Digital Age

An overview of the course's content, objectives, learning methods and assignments

Block II - Online Advertising

Required Reading

  • "The New York Times Paywall"
  • "Online Marketing at Big Skinny"
  • "Search Engine Optimization: Note for Marketing Managers
  • "Star Digital: Assesing the Effectiveness of Display Advertising
  • "For Mobile Devices, Think Apps, Not Ads"

Supplemental Reading

5/22 - 2. Two-Sided Markets and Overview of Channels to Reach Consumers

  • Discussion of the importance of network effects and two-sided markets in digital marketing
  • Differences of offline and online channels: the New York Times case
  • How to reach customers online: example of Big Skinny
  • Targeting and Payment Methods (CPM vs CPC vs CPA)

5/22 - 3. Search and Display Advertising

  • Search vs Display advertising
  • Details of Search Advertising
  • Simulation of paid search auction in class with students bidding for real keywords at realistic prices
  • Discussion of search engine optimization

5/23 - 4. Social Media and Mobile Advertising

  • Guest Speaker: Dutta Satadip (Google) to talk about the different players in the display advertising ecosystem and the emerging social and mobile advertising channels
  • Advertising on social media: opportunities and challenges
  • How and when does mobile advertising work?

Block III - The Marketing Conversation: Consumers-to-Consumers and Consumers-to-Firms

Required Reading

Supplemental Reading

6/12 - 5. Social Networks and Word-of-Mouth

  • Is it possible to engineer virality? - Mekanism case
  • Basics of networks
  • Finding influential individuals and communities
  • Network analysis tools: analysis of the class social network

6/13 - 6. Social Contagion and its Importance for Marketing

  • An important form of word-of-mouth: Online reviews - TripAdvisor case
  • Word-of-mouth and other consumer to consumer interactions
  • What we know about diffusion and virality
  • What is contagious on social networks

6/14 - 7. Measurement, Analytics and Experimentation

  • Social TV Analytics on Twitter - Bluefin case
  • Consumer data availabilty
  • Analytics vs Experimentation
  • Structured vs Unstructred data analysis
  • The value and limits of text analysis

Block V - Digital Marketing Strategies

Required Reading

  • "Sephora Direct: Investing in Social Media, Video, and Mobile"
  • "Social Strategy at Nike"
  • "Maersk Line: B2B Social Media - 'It's Communication, Not Marketing'"

Supplemental Reading

8/7 - 8. Integrated Digital Marketing and the Marketing Funnel

  • Understanding the marketing funnel and how the Internet changes it
  • the 360 view of digital marketing - Sephora case
  • Brands on social media

8/7 - 9. Social Strategies for Brands

  • Strategies for brands to engage in a conversation
  • Creating a social product - Nike+ case
  • Guest Speaker: Adam Kleinberg (CEO, Traction Interactive Agency) to talk about the role digital in marketing

8/8 - 10. B2B Marketing in the Digital Age

  • Differences and similarities between B2C and B2B digital marketing - Cisco case
  • B2B success on social media? - Maersk case
  • Course summary and lookout for future trends


Required Readings

For each block, required readings are listed under Session Details. If there is a link you can directly click, if only the title is listed, you can find the material on study.net. There will not be many required readings, so please read them carefully. Readings are listed per block. Please read all of them before the first day of the block.

Supplemental Readings

I provide a variety of articles in addition to the required readings for each session. If you want to learn more about a certain topics these readings provide a good starting point. Some of these will be on study.net and some of them are directly linked. Also, to keep up with the recent developments, it is very useful to regularly check - among others - the following blogs: If you want to read up on any specific topic not listed, do not hesitate to ask me for pointers.

Class Participation (Individual)

The success of this course depends on everybody's effort to prepare before class. Learning is the most effective when you are actively engaged in thinking about and doing marketing rather than passively absorbing the material. Everybody's contribution is important. It is rare that there is one right answer to a particular marketing issue. Do not expect one. Rather, you should expect to learn from seeing how others address the problem that you have thought seriously about. The better prepared you are the more you will learn.

Assignments (Group)

The assignment in this class will organized around a group project in which you evaluate the digital presence of a company. You are free to choose any company to follow and evaluate its performance based on what we learned in class. Make sure that you choose a product/brand that has enough activity for you to analyze. Before you decide, try to search for the brand on Facebook and Twitter and make sure you get a reasonable amount of results. You can and are encouraged to interact with the company on social media as a fan/consumer. I would advise not to be obstrusive in the beginning, so that you can evaluate the interaction with consumers. Later you can contact the company and try to talk to them/ interview them about their digital strategy. This is encouraged, but it is not required (as they might not respond to you). The project will include several assignments during the semester that help you learn about certain topics we cover and to contribute to your final analysis.

Form Groups

Due date: 5/11 11pm

Form groups and submit a document containing the names of the team members.

Choose keywords (5 points)

Due date: 5/20 11pm

Choose a company or specific product to follow. Submit links summarizing the digital presence of the company and a set of relevant keywords

  1. Links: Search for all the channels that the company uses on the Internet. This should include all the outlets you can find from their website to social media. Submit a link for each.
  2. Search Keywords: Submit a list of keywords that should be relevant for the company in the context of search. This list should include keywords that the company would consider advertising for or doing search engine optimiziation
  3. Social Media Tracking Keywords: Submit a list of keywords that the company could/should use for social media tracking. This list should include keywords that consumers would mention when they talk about the company including Twitter handles/hashtags etc. I will use this list to stream data for you from Facebook and Twitter that you will later analyze in the Analytics Exercise.

Note: You can include keywords that consist of multiple words.
Note: The search and social media keyword lists will naturally overlap.

Online Advertising Exercise (10 points)

Due date: 6/11 11pm

This exercise will teach how to use certain online tools to estimate the web traffic, keyword prices and some demographic data related to the company you follow. You will get the detailed questions on 5/24.

Analytics Exercise (25 points)

Due date (manual text classification): 7/6 11pm

Due date (solutions): 8/6 11pm

This exercise will be based on the data you get from me about the company you follow in the group project. Based on the keywords you submit, I will give you a dataset in Excel format that you will have to conduct simple analysis on.

As part of the analytics exercise, we will do some exploration in text analysis. This will require you to manually classify some text (Tweets/Facebook comments). Based on your manual classificaiton, I will run machine learning algorithms to and give you back the data. You need to submit the manually classified text by 7/6.

You will get the detailed description of this exercise on 6/14. The problem set will have specific question that you need to answer, but you are encouraged to conduct further analysis of the data inspired by my questions to include in your final paper.

Final Paper (30 points)

Due date: 8/15 11pm:

Your final paper should be 10-12 pages excluding figures and exhibits. Make sure to include links/screenshots or whatever is necessary to demonstrate your points. The paper should cover at least the following topics, but feel free to add to these or structure differently.

  • Brief description of the brand/product/products. Where are they sold/marketed? What is the target market?
  • Overview of the digital presence of the company. What platforms do they use? How actively? etc.
  • Evaluation of the digital activities.
    • Are the activities appropriate for the brand?
    • Is there interaction between the brand and consumers and between consumers? Should there be more/less? Is it useful?
    • How successful are they in terms of numbers (whatever you can get)?
    • Analyze the company's social media presence over time (as far as you can go in the past). Do you see any trends?
    • Provide a rough estimate of the resources needed to maintain the digital presence you currently observe.
  • What would you change? How would you improve the company's digital presence? Be realistic in terms of budget constraints.

Submission of Documents

All assignments that require a document to be submitted should use 12pt font, double spacing, and 1 inch margins. Submit all the assignments on in .docx or .pdf format, no paper submission is necessary. The comments and grades will be added to the file electronically which look better in Word, so .docx is the preferred to .pdf if you use Word.


Your grade will be based on the number of points you get from the following assignments. The maximum total score is 100 points.
  • Class Participation: 30 points
  • Keywords: 5 points
  • Online Advertising Exercise: 10 points
  • Analytics Exercise: 25 points
  • Final Paper: 30 points

  Optional photo goes here