Interview with the Judges of the UK Search Awards 2015
The UK Search Awards takes place on Thursday November 26th at the Ballroom Southbank, London. Now in its fifth year, this is one of the biggest events in the Search Industry. In this post, I interview some of the judge, Jon Myers, Judith Lewis and Nick Wilsdon who are responsible for judging and giving out the awards to companies working across a variety of industries.
How many times have you been a judge and what do you like the most about it?
I was a judge 4 times in the early years but have taken off the last 3 years as I wanted to enter the awards. It has been great to be a regular winner but now I am very much looking forward to judging again this year! What I love about it is the chance to read great entries about amazing campaigns that our industry produces as well as the cut and thrust of the judging day to decide on a winner!
I’ve judged all the UK Search Awards, all but one EU Search Awards and this year’s US Search Awards so I guess I’ve judged a lot.
This is the first time, my agency roles have kept me on the other side of the equation. It’s been interesting to see the range of entries and strategies that are being employed across the industry. The most enjoyable part has been debating the merits of these strategies with my fellow judges, it’s not often you get to have those conversations with your peers.
What do you look for in an award winning campaign?
For me it starts with the entry and how well the information is put across to the judges with the amount of entries that have to be read. For me it is of course about performance but the biggest ROI won’t just get you a winning entry! I am looking for something new, innovation and ultimately the strategy and delivery.
Creativity above all. A company can do a really creative campaign on £2k or on £200k but a company can also do poorly executed or unimaginative work on £200k. I look for the approach that is creative, innovative and breaks free of business as usual and shines. We are all looking for something that makes us say “I wish I had thought of that”. We’re also looking for excellent results based on budget and market potential. All of the judges want to see great results *matched to objectives* which we will check and verify using a number of tools.
It depends on the category but in general I’m looking for creativity and effectiveness. The difference between good and great campaigns usually lies in the implementation. Ultimately though the results for the client and the spend are the most important criteria. UK digital advertising spend for H1 2015 stands at £3.9bln but still only accounts for 12% of the total UK advertising spend for the period. Campaigns we showcase within our industry must be effective to continue driving this transfer of budget across to digital channels.
What three things would you say to someone who was dubious of entering their project for an award to convince them to do so?
- Never be scared to shout about your amazing work!
- You are going up against the best in the country so if you win you truly have delivered a special campaign.
- Awards put you on the map and help you win business!
- It’s worth the recognition to get shortlisted alone. Just make sure your objectives and results match and hey – making them bullet points which match makes it even easier for us and then let your creativity shine in the strategic sections.
- It’s a great way to demonstrate to clients that you’re constantly pushing the boundaries and trying to do things better. Clients love it when you’re so proud of the work you did for them you think it is award-worthy
- Any of the judges will help you if you want help checking your entry – just ask. We will not fix it and we will not try and sway other judges nor will we tell you if it is award-winning. What we will do is point out missing information, questions we may have and where objectives do not properly match results. We won’t fix it for you but we’ll help guide you so you can ensure you have done the best job you can on the entry.
Firstly, I think there is a perception that winning entries depend on the size of their budget. Although there should be material results to your clients’ business, there are great examples this year of effective work delivered within tough financial constraints. Secondly, do not get put off by the amount of work needed to complete your entry. As a judge I certainly appreciated the entries that managed to convey the value of their campaign clearly and concisely.
Have you won an award or been part of a team that won? If so what were the key areas that stood out which helped you to win?
I have been very successful over the last 3 years at the UK and European awards when I worked as Managing Director of Marin Software winner 6 awards in the Best PPC Software Category. The feedback was that we always wrote great entries and also the pace of innovation within the technology.
I was part of the team that won an award for the work on Virgin.com but I think that it was our out-of-the-box (dare I say… INNOVATIVE) thinking that won it for us. We did a fully integrated approach and we rocked it and the multiple awards we won for our work demonstrate it. We were proud of what we did and entered it to multiple awards and the wins show others saw that innovation too.
On a couple of occasions I’ve been part of a wider agency team that won awards. Unfortunately not yet for a campaign that I’ve been more directly responsible for. It’s great that SEO campaigns are getting more recognition across the marketing industry now. In terms of the agency awards that we have won previously, the key factor has always been the people on that team. Great work requires people who are skilled, enthusiastic and dedicated, at all organisational levels.
Now that you are judging awards, do you still enter other awards for campaigns you have worked on?
At the UK Search Awards if you are a judge you can’t enter which is a good way to keep it impartial. I have judged other awards for many years and some you can enter as well but I like the way the UK Search Awards keeps it separate.
Not really. The work I do now is very link-focused and the kind of link building I am doing I would prefer not to enter for an award so no one else copies what I’m doing 😉 That way I keep doing excellent work for clients and keep what I’m doing secret from my fellow judges 😀
Several of the global SEO strategies we’re working on at Vodafone will be coming into place next year, so we may well be submitting award entries. Implementing these strategies across 21 markets presents a challenge but the potential impact on that level of traffic definitely keeps my colleagues excited. We’re definitely looking forward to 2016.
If you have not bought your ticket yet for the UK Search Awards, there are still places available. Buy yours from the UK Search Awards site and have one of the best nights in search. Thank you to all the judges for being interviewed on State of Digital.