You know you have an amazing native ad campaign and you feel that you actually have a good chance of winning an award. But you’re reluctant to submit your work, because how do you create an award entry that the jury will actually like? What do the judges want? What are the secrets to creating an award entry that will make it to the shortlist?
Be patient and read this.
In a few minutes, you’ll know exactly what to do as 10 judges from the Native Advertising Awards have revealed their best tips for you to create an award entry that will wow them.
1. Give away the ending first
Firstly, start with a compelling summary!
You’re not writing a novel, so give away the ending first and work back from there, presenting the vital information that supports it! The first paragraph is key, it needs to grab the attention and tell the story succinctly. Don’t make the judges search for the key facts, spell them out! Too many entries are spoiled by judges having to decipher the relevance of the entry to the category by trying to piece together the jigsaw from the fragments provided, trust me.
Secondly, show real evidence of what you’ve achieved, meaningful facts and figures illustrating the scale of success. Percentages are a great way to express growth, but they must relate to real figures! On their own, percentages without actual numbers to support are meaningless and imply that the missing number might actually be small. So, for example, while a stat used just on its own claiming 1000% growth might sound very impressive, if it’s based on growing email sign ups from 5 to 50 it’s not really is it? But 5,000 to 50,000 really does sound good. So be prepared and back up your claims!
Tim Cain, Founder of Digital First Media
2. Set the stage and offer perspective
Writing a good award entry requires putting yourself in the judge’s shoes. The judge has no context when he or she evaluates your campaign. Set the stage. What was the problem the content was trying to solve? Had other approaches been ineffective? There’s the story the content tells and then there’s the story about how the content came to be—that’s the one judges need to hear.
Describe how this idea came to be and disclose as much of your thinking as you can in an engaging way. Offer some perspective about budget; what were the constraints on this project? Those can give the story urgency and show us the challenges you had to overcome.
Finally, explain what the campaign achieved. I think people who submit for awards think volume metrics will impress judges, and of course they do, but sometimes a story about how a piece of content affected even one viewer can illustrate its impact.
Not all campaigns achieve success through volume. Sometimes a quote from a stakeholder is the perfect way to illustrate how a campaign transformed its ecosystem. Once you’ve touched on all six points of who-what-where-when-why and how, you’ve probably done what you needed to do to make your case before a judging panel.
Stephanie Losee, Head of Content at Visa Communications
3. Answer everything
Please be certain to respond to all the questions!
Sometimes we see great creative, but no information on results. Or lots of information about results, but little about the goal or creative. Help us judge your work fairly and holistically!
Rebecca Lieb, Leading Industry Analyst on Native Advertising
4. Be intentional about the category
One of the best ways to ensure a successful entry is to be very intentional about the category you choose to submit a project for. We often see great entries that were submitted for a category that doesn’t allow them to shine, or that don’t meet the criteria for the category selected. Spend time with the category descriptions and details, and carefully consider which would be the best fit for your chosen work.
Melanie Deziel, Brand Storytelling Consultant & Speaker
5. Don’t state fluffy KPIs
There are some recurring obvious examples that drive a jury mad. Like lack of evidence or fluffy KPIs. My key recommendation for entering awards is to demonstrate an understanding of the commercial or business objectives of the business you are representing or the strategy or campaign you are putting forward.
Put yourself in the shoes of a typical jury member. They have usually been asked to qualify entries because, as we say in Australia, “they have been around the block”. In other words, they have a bank of proven work themselves. Indeed, they have most likely had to grow a business themselves and/or have been personally responsible for the outcomes of a large number of marketing programs over time.
So many entries I’ve seen concentrate on some kind of emotive feeling of a program, rather than outlining how they responded to a commercial goal. So, you built this super creative, bespoke activation with a kooky thingy that got some PR. But how many ‘real’ people saw it, turned up, signed up, download it or paid as a result? It’s immediately clear in the jury room when somebody has misunderstood this concept.
Natalie Giddings, Managing Director at The Remarkables Group
6. Visuals are welcome
A visual overview of what the project entails is always very welcome. It doesn’t need to be a fancy, graphic masterpiece, just something to help the jury understand the scope and context quickly. A showreel or a pdf presentation would do.
Jesper Laursen, CEO & Founder of Native Advertising Institute
7. Share demonstrable results
There are two things I’m looking for as a jurist on the panel. First, I’m looking for powerful, creative stories that are separate from the brand/product/service – but that tie into the approach of the brand in a truly creative way.
The second are demonstrable results that go beyond page views, or reach metrics – but into either actual audience acquisition (e.g. subscriptions) or in other ways of bringing audiences into the goals of the marketing organizations.
Robert Rose, Content Marketing and Customer Experience Expert
8. Challenge what is known as best practice
There are some basics that must be in place but is often forgotten when it comes to case studies and award entries.
The most crucial one is probably linking the results to actual goals. Effect is not just about reach or engagement, but about how the campaign or program actually affects your brands business goals. If you can prove that, and isolate the effect from other initiatives, you will have a good chance to win.
Also it’s important to be innovative. Brands that have the ability to create innovation and challenge what is known as best practice will always stand out in the competition.
Björn Owen Glad, Marketing Manager at Spoon Publishing
9. Show a true collaboration
I’d like to see a true collaboration between a publisher or agency and a brand, providing value to the readers and viewers. A storytelling that is not limited to the brand nor the media but bridges both worlds elegantly. And also, scalability driving additional values cross channels.
Johannes Ceh, Content Strategist and Management Consultant
10. A marriage between quality and creativity
I’m expecting to see entries showcasing the new and unexpected, I’m expecting to see entries that seduce the jury through their narrative and clever storytelling. Moreover, I’m looking forward to seeing entries that captivate us with their relevance and a clear display of why they deserve the viewers’ interest. In short, the entries should showcase a solid marriage between quality and creativity.
Nina Nørgaard Jacobsen, CEO & Founder of Biites
Check out our collection of award-winning native advertising campaigns in this ebook