An Instagram chatbot and a running shoe subscription service are the two winning innovative ideas from Business School Masters' students developing digital skills 'imperative to the future' of consumer marketing, according to leading industry figures.

Over recent months, students from the MSc Marketing Applications course have spent time with Hitwise, a market-leading firm providing online insights to better understand target audiences for businesses' consumer campaigns.

They learned about the company's Competitive Intelligence and Audience View platforms which map out real-time customer journeys, enable detailed customer personas, and help tailor communication plans.

Students Rachael Gardner, Thao Ha, Karianne Johnsen and Kirby Lewis also pitched business ideas to a panel comprising senior figures from Hitwise, along with digital marketing agency 8 Million Stories and software firm Cultivate. The winning pitches included an Instagram chatbot for a travel bookings website, and a subscription model for consumers interested in running shoes.

The students' experience is part of a collaboration with Hitwise to develop teaching and research in data science, and skills in analytics for graduates.

MSc Marketing Students at Hitwise
Our MSc Marketing students visiting Hitwise

Jamal Benmoussa, Strategic Account Lead at Hitwise, said:

"This is the third year Hitwise has partnered with the University of Edinburgh Business School on their Marketing Applications course, and we continue to be impressed with how students utilise our data platforms. In particular, the two winning groups stood out with how they incorporated strategic analyses, such as customer journey mapping and audience profiling, to develop actionable recommendations for global brands like Booking.com. Great work all round. We look forward to building deeper relationships with the next generation of marketers, and strategic partnerships with businesses and associations in Scotland."

Lisa Luu, Global Head of Insights at Hitwise, said:

"We are proud to work with and support the Business School across their programmes. Year-on-year, it is great to see the students embracing our platforms and developing the digital skills which are imperative to the future of our industry. We were delighted to host a visit for the winning groups to show them round our offices and meet members of our London team."

MSc student Karianne Johnsen said:

"The Hitwise project was a brilliant experience for my group and the overall class to apply and demonstrate our ability to develop creative ideas rooted in strategic insights. I was struck by the real-time nature of their web analytics and how detailed their audience data was. Use of the Hitwise platforms provided that additional layer of industry expertise for students to understand both the brand and consumer engagement relationships."

Dr Mary Ho, Course Organiser for Marketing Applications 2019, said:

"This opportunity to work with Hitwise has been invaluable for the MSc students, particularly in developing their skills in digital analytics and insight generation. Gaining an understanding and experience using tools and platforms that today's marketing data specialists utilise is imperative for our students, and reinforces our commitment to offering practically relevant learning experiences in the Business School.

"Many thanks to Lisa and Jamal for their continued support and engagement with the Business School through guest lectures, course, and dissertation projects. And lastly, many congratulations to Karianne, Kirby, Emily and Rachael, Thao and Besart!"