Student led co-creation through the MarTech Laboratory at Ulster University: Past Successes of the ‘6S community’.

Do you know any organisations focusing on sustainability and/or social good projects who could benefit from working with some of Ulster’s brightest Marketing undergraduates?  If they would like to participate in a Digital Marketing audit and strategy development between October and January, click here for more details or share with someone who might be a good fit for the 6S community.  To learn more, read on!

The MarTech Laboratory is a concept at Ulster which is supported by specialists and led by students and is focused on exploring digital marketing strategy and applying this knowledge to particular challenges each academic year.  In academic year 2022-23 the MarTech Laboratory is focused on supporting students in exploring and practicing digital marketing for personal/professional development as well as its potential to positively impact on people and planet, promoting a more purpose driven approach to brands and businesses. 

We have previously shared how 6S stands for the MarTech Laboratory’ s key stakeholders who are students, specialists (academic, industry, policy and societal focused), social enterprise, start-ups, sustainability focused or social good projects.

Some notable experiences we have participated in as the MarTech Laboratory (previously ALTMarketing.co) include challenges with public sector organisations such as assisting Tourism NI’s launch of “Embrace the Giant Spirit” campaign as well as multinationals like ABB, and their Smart Homes division as well as social enterprises and start ups such as Madlug and Ulster University’s student wellbeing project.  Our focus is much more firmly on sustainability and social good and as part of this developing ethos our 6S community will seek to engage projects relating to these important and impactful types of outcomes, hopefully enabling organisations such as start ups and social enterprises in the process.

Given the social and economic importance of start-ups and social enterprises, last year we worked with 2 start ups and 1 social enterprise and co-developed strategies with them.  Below is some of the feedback we received from those experiences which will give you a sense of the project experience when working with Ulster undergraduates on a Digital Marketing challenge:

If you’d like to learn more about the lab and stay in touch with developments, please do join our mailing list and follow us on social media or on LinkedIn.  Please do share this concept with any of your network who might be keen to engage.  They can contact Dr John Bustard (Senior Lecturer, Digital Transformation) at Ulster University at j.bustard@ulster.ac.uk


I recently had the privilege of interning as a Digital Marketing Associate at the International NW200 event through the Martech Laboratory’s Micro-Internship Program designed for students at Ulster University to bridge the gap between theoretical knowledge and practical application, unlocking new horizons in the world of digital marketing.

For me, this rather transformative experience has been nothing short of an incredible adventure; with the vibrant backdrop of Irish culture, it provided me unparalleled exposure to a global audience, great networking opportunities and a deeper insight of the event’s ethos and marketing dynamics. I am positive that this experience has had a profound impact on my professional as well as personal growth.

The International North West 200 is Ireland’s largest outdoor sporting event. With its reputation as one of the most prestigious motorsport events, it attracts enthusiasts from around the world. According to the recent economic impact analysis carried out by Professional Event Solutions, “the direct economic impact attributable to event-specific spectators to the 2022 North West 200 was, £16,022,898. This represents a 63% increase since 2017”.

Areeba Kirmani with Patricia Fernandaz & Cory West, the American husband and wife race team

In my capacity as a Digital Marketing Associate for NW200, I had the opportunity to explore various platforms especially TikTok to strategize ways to engage with a diverse international audience. Using stimulating content, visually stunning imagery, and captivating storytelling we were able to   successfully capture the attention of motorsport enthusiasts worldwide. It is worthwhile to note that over a short span of 8 days we saw a phenomenal increase in the engagement levels with the number of flowers increasing from 116 to 1052 and the number of likes surging by 3423, from a mere 71 to 3494 by the end of the race week.

Progress over the 5 days of applying Content Strategy on TikTok (before and after)

I firmly believe that beyond the thrilling races, NW200 also serves as a window into the vibrant local culture. Our marketing campaigns highlighted the essence of the passionate road-racing spirit showcasing the volunteers, supporters as well as bikers as #NW200Heroes whose relentless efforts made this year’s event possible. Leveraging the power of the #NW200Heroes campaign, we launched an exciting challenge on TikTok to capture the attention and enthusiasm of our audience. We received some brilliant responses reflecting its strong appeal. In addition to this we covered local museums, scenic landscapes, and the spirit of the event, in our attempt to paint a captivating picture of Ireland’s cultural tapestry, fostering a deeper connection between the event and its global audience.

As an intern, I completed a bootcamp for the HubSpot Marketing Certification which also proved to be highly beneficial in.  It laid the foundation of my digital marketing knowledge, equipping me with comprehensive understanding of SEO, content strategy, social media management, and data analytics. Through interactive modules and practical exercises, I gained a deeper understanding of marketing fundamentals and developed a data-driven mindset. I was then able to apply this newfound knowledge and skills in a real-world setting through the NW200 Micro Internship. From optimizing social media presence to crafting engaging content and leveraging data analytics for trend analysis, I (with the help of Principal Investigator. John Bustard) was able to play a vital role in driving an impactful marketing campaign (on TikTok) for one of the most prestigious motorsport events.

I am grateful to Ulster University and to the The Martech Laboratory for giving me this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity offering me an invaluable blend of theoretical knowledge and hands-on experience. This combined experience of the HubSpot Marketing Boot Camp and the NW200 Micro Internship has not only enhanced my technical skills but also sharpened my strategic thinking, creativity, and adaptability. I feel I am better equipped to tackle the ever-evolving challenges of the digital marketing landscape and create a meaningful impact in the world of digital marketing. The digital marketing journey with NW200 has not only provided me with an incredible platform to engage with international audiences but has also deepened my appreciation for the enchanting local culture.

 As an aspiring digital marketeer, I see it as a major milestone on my journey towards a successful career in the field. I would highly recommend all those interested in pursuing a marketing career to utilize this brilliant opportunity and sign-up for the Micro-Internships and any upcoming HubSpot certification Bootcamps. Go for it guys!

Cathal Cunning (Volunteer Coordinator – 1st left) Areeba Kirmani (second left) and Dr John Bustard (right) with key volunteers at NW200

Gen Z and their AI Future: A Short Survey Understood Through the Perspective of Participants from this Demographic and Interpreted Through AI Adopting a position of Caution on its use.

The above image was generated using the following prompt: “A positive picture of AI assisting Gen Z people in their future”

The following article was written by Notion AI which leveraged data collected from a short survey of Gen Z Participants totalling 2783 (UK = 1,496 USA = 1,287)

The MarTech Laboratory conducted a short survey and collected data from 1,496 participants in the UK and 1,287 participants in the USA, all of whom were part of the Gen Z age group. The focus of the survey was to gauge the comfort level of this demographic in terms of partnering with AI in their future or their job role, and the likelihood that their career path will require significant partnership with AI. The survey also collected data on the current usage of AI tools or applications among those participants surveyed.

The first table shows the comfort level of participants from both countries with partnering with AI, with respondents able to choose from five options ranging from “not comfortable at all” to “extremely comfortable”. The second table shows the likelihood of significant partnership with AI in the future, with respondents able to choose from five options ranging from “highly unlikely” to “extremely likely”. The third table simply shows the percentage of participants in each country who are currently using AI tools or applications.

Gen Z Participants: UK = 1,496 USA = 1,287

Q1. How Comfortable are you to partner with AI in delivering your future or job role?

CountryNot comfortable at allSlightly uncomfortableNeutralSomewhat comfortableExtremely comfortable

Q2. How likely is it that your career path will require significant partnership with AI to enable its delivery?

CountryHighly unlikelySomewhat unlikelyNeutralSomewhat likelyExtremely likely

Q3. Are you Currently Using AI Tools


(survey directed by the MarTech Laboratory and facilitated by Voxburner.com)

While the majority of participants in the survey showed a willingness to partner with AI, there is still a significant percentage of those surveyed who are not comfortable with the idea. Additionally, the percentage of participants who are “somewhat likely” or “extremely likely” to require significant partnership with AI is not as high as those who are neutral or “somewhat unlikely”. This suggests that there may be some apprehension among future workers about the role of AI in the workplace.

Furthermore, a study by Accenture (2018) found that while 54% of business leaders believe that AI will create more opportunities for their employees, 46% believe that AI will replace a significant number of jobs in their industry. This indicates that there may be concerns about the impact of AI on job security, and that not all workers are convinced that partnering with AI will be beneficial for their careers.

Overall, while the survey results indicate a growing acceptance of AI in the workplace, it is important to consider the perspectives of those who are not as comfortable with the idea, and to address their concerns in order to fully realize the potential benefits of AI in the workplace.

It is also worth noting that the survey data only captures the opinions of a small subset of the population, specifically Gen Z participants in the UK and USA. It is possible that other age groups or regions may have different attitudes towards AI, and that these attitudes may change over time as AI becomes more prevalent in the workplace.

Therefore, it is important for organisations to carefully consider the impact of AI on their workforce, and to ensure that their employees are adequately trained and prepared for new roles that may emerge as a result of AI adoption. Additionally, organisations should strive to be transparent about the use of AI in their operations, and to address any concerns or fears that workers may have about the technology. By doing so, companies can help to ensure that the benefits of AI are realized across their workforce, and that workers are able to fully embrace the opportunities that AI presents.

In summary, while the survey data suggests a growing acceptance of AI in the workplace, it is important to recognize that there may still be concerns and apprehensions among workers. By addressing these concerns and ensuring that workers are prepared for new roles and responsibilities, organisations can help to ensure a smooth and successful transition to an AI-driven workplace.

Learning about, Learning from and Learning Together with Artificial Intelligence (AI): Using AI as an Active Learning Enabler in Workflows at the MarTech Laboratory.

AI Image Generator – 1st Image Created Using Command “Higher Education Students Using Artificial Intelligence collaboratively in a laboratory setting”

I’m sure unsurprisingly to most, we are integrating Artificial Intelligence (AI) into various aspects of our work at the MarTech Laboratory.   According to Kim et al. (2022, p.6069), “preparing students to collaborate with AI remains a challenging goal” and although we agree, it’s certainly important that we begin to trial. In this regard, we have been using AI to review key elements of the recent ‘Thinkathon’ and the summaries and insights from that day are encouraging future programme development. 

The recent #MarTechLaboratory ‘Thinkathon’ with our students and a smattering of members from our local network of “#6SCommunity” was an incredibly productive day!  Across each station and 2 sessions, and from approximately 300 ideas, students and stakeholders generated 151 specific detailed outcomes relating areas they felt the lab could focus on.  Each full answer was presented as a ‘what, why and how’ and related specifically to each of the pillars of the #6SCommunity (Students, Specialists, Start-ups, Social Enterprises, Sustainability focused and Social good projects) through the question ‘What could the MarTech Laboratory do for..’. 

We used ChatGPT to summarise the outputs from the section on ‘students’ as a pilot and it summarised the ‘what’s as follows:

The content describes a range of activities and opportunities related to networking, career development, and support for graduates. These include various types of training and certifications, practical experience, mentorship and coaching, workshops and competitions, and social events. The focus is on building skills and connections that lead to better job opportunities and career paths, with incentives and rewards offered for participating in various activities. The content also highlights the importance of peer support and socializing as part of the overall learning experience.

ChatGPT further summarises the outputs from ‘students’ on ‘why’s as follows:

The content describes a variety of benefits and goals related to building connections and improving employability, with a focus on gaining knowledge, skills, and industry connections. The use of martech and other interactive tools is emphasized as a way to increase engagement, test knowledge, and make learning more enjoyable. There is also a focus on providing support and reducing stress for students, with assistance offered for assignments and career exploration. The importance of role models and peer connections is emphasized, with the goal of strengthening relationships and building confidence. Overall, the content suggests a desire to create a more interactive, engaging, and supportive learning environment that prepares students for success in the working world.

ChatGPT finally summarises the outputs from ‘students’ on ‘how’s in the following paragraph:

The content describes a variety of resources and activities aimed at enhancing knowledge, skills, and career opportunities for students. These include attending events, completing certifications, and participating in workshops, seminars, and simulations. There is a focus on practical learning, with live case studies and 1-1 contact with businesses, and the use of online tools and apps like Nearpod. Industry professionals are invited to speak and offer classes, and students are encouraged to participate in competitions and Q&A events. The importance of networking and building relationships is emphasized, with former students and industry specialists providing support and mentoring. Communication through newsletters, social media, and signage is used to promote events and activities. Overall, the content suggests a desire to provide a wide range of resources and opportunities for students to learn, network, and build their skills and careers.

As we continue to develop our understanding and broader approach to the safe application of AI in marketing technology and in Higher Education, we at the MarTech Laboratory are cognisant to provide a learning scaffolding to develop AI collaboration via the three key stages highlighted by Kim et al., 2022 as follows:

  1. to learn about AI;
  2. to learn from AI, and;  
  3. to learn together


Kim, J., Lee, H. and Cho, Y.H. (2022) Learning design to support student-AI collaboration: Perspectives of leading teachers for AI in education. Education and Information Technologies27(5), pp.6069-6104.