Google & Katana Partner for Think Ed Summit 2018

On Thursday, April 12th, Katana Media partnered with Google to hold Think Ed Summit, a conference solely dedicated to marketing in the higher education space.

This exclusive event is the first of its kind, featuring a wide variety of institutions from across the country. The conference was held all the way up in University Club Atop Symphony Towers with a beautiful view of San Diego. Professionals from Google and Katana, and featured speakers from Gray Associates and Mind Streams discussed the state of Higher Education, then took a deep dive into tangible digital strategies for higher ed campaigns.

Keynote speaker Ann Payne, Agency Development, Google


Katana’s Executive Chairman Andreas Roell kicked off the conference with a look at the state of higher education in 2018, and how these changes will impact marketing campaigns. He left attendees with advice to, “end the lead addiction race.” He stated that, “the key is to properly align the right business metrics into your marketing strategy, not just focus on leads.” Marketers often get caught up in lead generation, but in a vertical like higher education, the conversion path is almost year-long—most leads won’t become enrollments.

Andreas Roell, Executive Chairman, Katana Media

Before our coffee and brain break, Katana provided an overview on GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation), a privacy regulation going into effect in the E.U. on May 25th. Though GDPR is affecting the E.U., it also affects businesses in the United States that do business overseas in Europe—this includes universities that take exchange students and four-year students from the E.U. The risks of not complying with GDPR are financially burdensome for brands, potentially amounting to around 20 million euros per GDPR violation. The session covered how professionals in higher education can comply and thrive in the GDPR era.

Time for coffee and treats!

Following the break, presentations focused on the technologies used to make campaigns a success. Specifically, the impact of Machine Learning and Automation on digital marketing and how these technologies will benefit higher ed campaigns to drive strong business results.

JJ Bannasch, President, Katana Media
Simone K. Styr, Regional Product Lead, Google

Following, Katana’s Data Insight Manager, Corey Zalewski provided tangible techniques for marketers to implement Digital Campaign Planning and Tracking and create a better impact on enrollment.

Corey Zalewski, Data Insight and Optimization Manager, Katana Media

After a delicious buffet, the afternoon was jam-packed with fresh content, starting with a partnership showcase with Katana’s Director of Client Strategy, Michaela Tredo, and Andy Benis, Director of Marketing at LAPU, a current higher education client.

Andy Benis, Director of Marketing, LAPU & Michaela Tredo, Director of Client Strategy, Katana Media

Workshop time

The Summit featured a hands-on workshop, run by Katana, featuring a two-phase data modeling exercise. The goal of the workshop was to help higher ed marketers identify data signals to integrate into their digital marketing plans, as well as integrate their LMS (Lead Management System) with their media channels. While the technical terms and tools were new to some professionals, they walked away with a checklist of items to refer to when organizing their marketing strategy for the rest of the year.


At laptop: Lindsay Romanelli, Senior Campaign Analyst, Katana Media


At laptop: Cem Kuscu, Paid Search Specialist, Katana Media
At laptop: Corey Zalewski, Insight and Optimization Manager, Katana Media

After the workshop, we introduced speakers from higher education consulting and marketing firms.

Bob Atkins, CEO, Gray Associates
Bryan Ward, COO, Mind Streams

Panel of speakers

The conference finished with a panel of speakers from Google and Katana answering questions from the attendees. A common question was how frequently ads should be shown to internet browsers. The answer is: there is no proper frequency of ads—creativity rules. Notably, Alex Pierson, Katana’s Campaign Analyst stated, “Creative content adds value, serving just an ad you’ve used for two years doesn’t give your potential leads anything.” It’s imperative to invest in good creative and content marketing—quality over quantity.

Farheen Shah, Google Strategist, Q&A moderator


Pictured left to right: Michaela Tredo of Katana, Alex Pierson of Katana, Simone K. Styr of Google, and Lindsay Romanelli of Katana.

Google Home


We gave away two Google homes to two attendees! Before we finished the day, Andreas Roell pulled the name of the lucky winner for the last Google home. 

Happy Hour 

The day couldn’t end without food and sustenance! All Think Ed Summit attendees were invited to Happy Hour at the University Club’s media lounge for a taste of San Diego with cocktails and drinks.

Happy hour in the Media Lounge!



What’s next?

If you were unable to attend Think Ed Summit this year and are interested in attending next year, please contact Linda Mansour at

Based on attendee feedback, Think Ed Summit was an amazing success, and we plan to continue this conference annually. Don’t miss out on this opportunity to attend next year! Follow us @katana_media and our Medium blog for updates on when and where our next conference will be, as well as additional resources from this year’s Summit.

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