It’s time for awards judging to become tangible

As Aristotle once said: “One swallow does not a summer make.” And, if Aristotle was busy Instagramming today, he would undoubtedly post: “Instagramming a TV Advert does not a Social Media strategy make’. Ok, so he may prefer Facebook over Instagram, as, let’s face it, he’s a little outside the Millennial demographic, but his message would be clear and true.

Everyone knows this don’t they? I thought so, but no, they don’t. In the past month I’ve attended three awards dinners. What’s become hugely alarming are the number of people in creative production roles whom don’t understand this, but further, the darn judges aren’t aware of it either.

A single creative, accompanied by three or four posts, shared multiple times, is not a campaign. With the right amount of Paid Media, you can get anyone to view anything. Siphoning half a million of TV Ad spend and converting to Paid Media, to push a below-par creative and a few messages is not a strategy. It’s barely a week’s worth of Always-On content in a posting plan.

Despite this, too many people in positions of influence, are being duped by the results and are then lauding achievements by virtue of an award.

Rewarding the firm, and client, with the deepest media pockets should never be a metric for success. If it were, we might as well just bundle every award out there and send it to the likes of P&G or Samsung. The reason I’m calling this out is not because I’ve got a gripe with the world’s elite spenders. P&G, Samsung, Nestle, Unilever and L’Oreal have done nothing wrong. They’re deploying their allocated Ad spend. Well done them. This is a poke at the judges whom are not fairly judging awards. There are so many smart agencies, and clients, working hard to deploy their marketing campaigns in innovative and impactful fashion. Firms not blessed with the endless pockets of the aforementioned. Firms, whose results, comparable to their spend, are staggering and jaw-droppingly brilliant. Yet, people are not assessing each entry on its merit – and factoring in the power of Paid Media.

It’s a trend that spans three-years now. There are firms out there with less than £100k or £50k of annual Paid Media spend, but their strategic approach and campaign delivery is delivering cut-through; they’re reaching millions of people, whom are acting on their content, and they’re even tracking to conclusion, evidencing significant and tangible impact to their bottom line. But, because their one signature video hasn’t reached 50 million impressions, or doesn’t feature the latest wannabe reality TV-star, it doesn’t get considered. Judges aren’t looking at the tangible impact of a campaign.

Remember why Social Media exploded? It was tangible. In a way that OOH and TV can’t be. ‘Eyeballs’ or ‘opportunities to see’ were replaced with views, actions and conversions. It’s a no-brainer where marketers should be investing, particularly at a time in industry when there is justified scrutiny on spend and results. Faux influencers and programmatic flaws are two of industries more recent issues. Paid Media has been, and will always be, an impactful and tangible route to market.

So why, for all the posts of Facebook, tweets on Twitter or shares on LinkedIn, aren’t judges penalising brands who can’t, or won’t, track to conclusion? If an agency, or brand, cannot evidence tangible results then that should be held against them. Not forgiven, because we’ve had an industry built upon ‘eyeballs’ or ‘opportunities to see’. Two-years ago, an agency (who I won’t name) were elected Agency of the Year, despite becoming front page news on broadsheets and having more than one Ad campaign banned by the ASA. Surely industry’s benchmark, the firm regarded as that year’s yardstick, have to be held to a higher standard? I’m sure the unnamed firm didn’t intentionally do anything wrong. There won’t have been malice or underhand intent. That said, getting your knuckles wrapped and becoming front page news, surely that means you can’t be regarded as Agency of the Year?

There should be an even playing field when it comes to recognition and reward. A criteria that we all subscribe to. A measurable that judges determine if we’ve surpassed. After all, future pitch lists are compiled based upon evidential success. Revenue is attained (in part) from notable award wins. If a business has only spent £7,000 on Paid Media, yet their campaign and content was so impactful, its yielded over a million full-length video views (on 20 different videos of circa 10-minutes) and subsequently delivered a multi-million pound, and attributed pipeline, doesn’t that deserve accolade more than a single TV spot that’s had £200k of Paid Media spend and only achieved impressions and views (and no evidence of bottom line impact)?

Social Media became tangible many years ago. Now it’s time for our award judging to become tangible too.

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