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York College rolls out new major: Advertising & Digital Marketing

Advertising & Digital Marketing
The Advertising & Digital Marketing program is designed to provide students the knowledge to apply technology to advertising initiatives and to understand the needs of the consumer.

York College of Pennsylvania’s Graham School of Business is rolling out a new major this semester: Advertising & Digital Marketing. 

While the program will cover the uses of social media such as SnapChat and Instagram for audience engagement, it will expose students to the less familiar sides of advertising, including tracking and analysis, SEO/SEM, content development, and user experience design.

Right now, it might sound like jargon to a newly enrolled student in this major, but all of this is hypercritical for any business to succeed in the digital world of today and tomorrow. 

Lew Small, Assistant Professor of Marketing at York College, recognized this when constructing the new major.

“Digital marketing – whether by commercial web, social media or phone app – is incredibly dynamic,” Professor Small says. “Businesses need help from individuals who are both knowledgeable and comfortable with the technology involved and who know how to speak the language.”

A very dynamic, growing field

Renee Tacka, Lecturer in Marketing, agrees. She’ll handle many of the front of classroom duties for the digital media classes and has over 20 years of experience working with both data and media. 

“The media industry has moved from a mass marketing focus into navigating a completely fragmented and highly targeted communication environment that spans multimedia platforms,” she says. “Marketers must be experts and use these touchpoints to drive engagement with targeted audiences across all forms of media.”

“It’s not about collecting friends on Facebook. It’s not just about running an ad,” Tacka says. “You have to think about the integration of every marketing message and how a customer might respond.  A quality advertising degree is going to reinforce the traditional aspects of marketing and advertising, while diving deeper into the unique characteristics of digital that makes a user feel like the message was tailored specifically for him or her.”

The rapidly changing marketplace and its adoption of technology is starting to cause a shift in the use of traditional media, such as print, TV and radio. It creates a very dynamic, growing advertising field that integrates the use of digital tools such as social, web, and mobile into the development of strong, 360 degree marketing plans.  

“This dynamism creates opportunities for those well versed in and comfortable with digital media. This is also the reason why we designed an Advertising and Digital Marketing major rather than just a plain vanilla advertising major,” Professor Small says.  

Strategies, not tools

What might be a bit eye-opening to some students is the reality picture Tacka paints when she tells her classes that Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram are merely tools, not strategies.  

“The major will bring together a collection of classes that will help students understand the immense depth of advertising and digital media”, she says.  “Consumers are inundated with thousands of marketing messages annually.  Advertising executives need to find ways to make messages stand out and cut through the clutter.  The Advertising and Digital Marketing major will drive home the importance of building the right advertising strategies and choosing the right tools to accomplish business goals.”

A shift in conversation

The old-school days of solely using cool jingles and slogans to drive consumer action are gone.  Consumers are smarter.  They have more information at their fingertips.

This change is heavily driven by the Internet, which has shifted society into almost complete transparency - information is everywhere and readily available.

“The conversation is no longer a ‘push’ conversation from the marketer to the consumer,” Tacka says. “Consumers now ‘pull’ information from businesses and manufacturers. They want what is important to them - sustainability, simple ingredients, lower prices – and since the world is now flat in terms of purchasing, the buying options are endless.  An advertiser’s challenge is to understand these consumers, know how to locate them, and clearly communicate the product’s value to the buyer without overpromising or misrepresenting its attributes.” 

Lingo vs knowledge

Knowing how to use any of today’s digital technologies is certainly a big plus for students enrolling in this major.  However, it’s not the end all to be all to gain employment in the digital advertising world.

“Almost all of our YCP millennial students are already comfortable with these technologies and well versed in the lingo,” Professor Small says. “The Advertising & Digital Marketing major is designed to additionally provide them with knowledge about the advertising applications of the technology and to appreciate the activity from the advertiser’s point of view.

“In other words, students already know LOL, but to get a job in the field, they need to understand SEO.”