Judgement Day

Murphys-Emmas2 (1)It’s coming round to that time of year again when I down tools and prepare to judge the entries in our Effective Mobile Marketing Awards. (There’s one week left to enter if you’re interested, details here.)

I have to admit, I always approach the judging process with a sense of dread, mainly because of the size of the task involved. To explain, we typically get over 200 entries, and these are divvied up amongst a judging panel made up of independent analysts, journalists and commentators. Finding these people is never an easy task because you need people who are firstly impartial, secondly, knowledgeable, and thirdly, willing to give a few days of their time to look at the entries and score them.
Typically, you can get away with asking a judge to look at around 30 entries during the initial judging process. Any more feels like taking the you know what. Then once the initial judging has taken place, we reconvene to discuss the shortlist and choose the winners.

But as chair of the judging panel, I feel duty bound to look at every single entry, which last year amounted to over 230. Why? Because when the Awards Ceremony comes around and there are people in the room who thought they might win but didn’t, there are always one or two who will collar me, usually after one too many glasses of fizz, and ask why Campaign X or App X deserved the award and their entry didn’t. And at that point, I like to be able to look them in the eye and tell them that it’s because the user interface was crap. Or the numbers weren’t impressive enough. Or whatever. Which I can only do if I’ve seen every entry and, wherever possible, experienced the app, campaign or whatever first hand.

But as I say, at the start of the process, it looks like a daunting task, and for that reason, I usually find other things to do for the first couple of days when I should make a start on it. A couple of weeks from now, you’ll find my desk has never looked tidier.

The weird thing though, is that when I take a deep breath and a deep dive into the entries, I wonder what I was so frightened of. Because the minute you start reading the entry forms, you are reminded of what a brilliant industry this is, and of how much great work is being done out there.

Going back to our first ever Awards programme in 2010, Coca-Cola, McDonalds, Pringles, Marks & Spencer and Cornetto were among the brands taking the honours. And our first ever award for Most Effective Mobile Application (b2b) went to something called Swiftkey, which has gone on to conquer the world since then. And as Swiftkey CMO Joe Braidwood pointed out when introducing our Barca Starta competition earlier this year, the PR and kudos that came with winning the award went a long way to getting it off the ground and on to millions of handsets around the world.

Among last year’s winners, we had a completely new approach to CRM in the Travel industry from TUI Travel, winning the award for the Most Effective Travel & Tourism Solution. We had Nimbletank taking the award for Most Effective Mobile Site for its own site, which – check it out – is unlike any other mobile site I’ve seen before or since. And we had a stunning winner of the Most Effective Mobile Advertising Campaign in OMD UK and Intel’s ‘Intel Inside Live’ campaign, crowdsourced from X Factor viewers, with the ad created using user-generated content in the time it took for the programme to air.

And these were just the winners. Some of the entries that had to content themselves with a Highly Commended, or just a place on the shortlist, would have been worthy winners in themselves on another day, were it not for the high standard of the entries they were up against.

So to all last year’s winners and runners-up, I salute you, and I look forward to diving into this year’s entries. It’s too early, not having done anything more than log them so far, to namecheck any contenders, but I have been encouraged to see lots of entries in the various Mobile Advertising categories, from big established media agencies like Mindshare and Manning Gottlieb OMD and mobile specialists such as Amobee alike.

Great to see so many brands in the mix too, including Dove, Walls, Starbucks, Sony, Subway, Asda, ITV, Renault, Nissan, eBay, Flora, Bacardi and John Lewis to name but a few. With a week to go until the entry window closes, I’m expecting many more by the time I sit down and start allocating categories to judges in a couple of weeks’ time. Just writing about it is getting me excited. If you haven’t entered yet, there’s one week left to do so. Full details on the Awards website.