The final entry deadline for the Performance Marketing Awards 2022 is midnight on Monday 21st February. Hopefully you’re on your way to completing your entries, but in case you’re still collating your efforts and achievements, who better for you to hear from but the judges themselves?

We’ve gathered some tips and insight from some of our Performance Marketing Awards judges. Ante Letica, Kudzai Mubaiwa and Eniola Ogunbanwo are absolute experts in both the industry and in what makes a winning award entry. Here are their thoughts on what you should be doing:

Firstly, let’s take a look back to 2021. We asked the judges which entries and points really stood out to them when judging last years’ PMAs.

Kicking us off, Ante Letica, Chief Operating Officer at digidip, spoke of the importance of advertisers having very specific goals. He said: “One of my favourite entries from last year was Denby and Increasingly. I think one of the reasons this stood out so much to me is because the advertiser has a very specific and clear goal that was given to the Increasingly team.

“Once that was very clearly defined, the rest of the entry contained a nice and clear description of how that goal was achieved with clear results and the impact this brought to the brand.”

We also chatted with Kudzai Mubaiwa, Head of Performance Media at Spark Foundry UK. Something she noticed in 2021 which really worked was having a single key theme – this allowed the entries to tell a really strong story.

She said: “When a judge is reading an entry they are not trying to figure out what each tactic was supposed to be in aid of – this should already be clear because of the single theme.

“As a judge you have to read through many entries in a short space of time. Having a theme creates that vital ‘red thread’ effect of great storytelling that will keep us engaged, and ensure your entry is memorable. Also back up your entry with strong and realistic numbers. We want to see the outcome and impact the campaign ultimately produced.”

Eniola Ogunbanwo, Senior Manager of International Growth at Refunder said: “The Best Wellbeing Initiative category as a whole really stood out to me last year – at a time when we were forced to adapt to a ‘new normal’, it was great to see how organisations also adapted their businesses to cater to their staff’s wellbeing. The champion in this exciting category for me and 2021 winner was AWIN with their 4 Day 4 Success Initiative.

“They set out a goal that was completely employee focused and didn’t compromise on salaries, or client and partnership service-level agreements. The bold move which initially may have been heavily criticised turned out to be one that enabled the team to work smarter, leading to better productivity and that was extremely impressive.

“In their entry, they also were able to demonstrate the long term effects that such an initiative had and it’s been great to see not only the wider industry but other channels and sectors take notice of the inspirational move.

“Any opportunity that results in others paying attention to the great work our industry produces is always a winner in my eyes!”

Eniola Ogunbanwo

We also spoke to the judges about the points they think are important to pay attention to when submitting a campaign.

Ante stressed the importance of being completely clear about the campaign KPIs – the shorter and clearer the better. “You would be surprised how often these are vague. Once you have those presented, describe the path you took to reach those KPIs; what did you do, what did you learn but also what did not work? Everyone loves a good story!”

According to Kudzai, having a clear strategy and starting point is key when making an entry great: “You can always tell when you read the entry title or the first sentence of the entry whether the team had a clear objective that they wanted to achieve. Some entries fall into the trap of covering everything and explaining every tactic they used in detail. Judges are given certain categories to review, and the entry needs to align with the category as that guides how we judge an entry.

“Have a clear objective, always go back to the key points of the category and make sure you are addressing these points, not just listing all the things you did well.”

Kudzai Mubaiwa

“Highlight elements such as teamwork – an entry is only as good as the team that worked on the campaign. I remember those that mentioned teamwork as a lot goes on behind the scenes. Also, keep your results realistic. Whilst it’s great and very important to state impressive percentage increases, if they are too high, it makes me question the credibility of these results.”

Eniola said that, aside from demonstrating creativity and outstanding results, the key thing for her that separates a good campaign from a great campaign is the human touch element. 

“Regardless of how big or small your organisation is or the fancy technology you may have access to, it’s always the people that make a campaign excel. So, don’t underestimate this section within the award entry submissions and always highlight how people made a difference to the success of the campaign.”

“Those entrants who aren’t afraid to be transparent and honest with how the process went, go a long way.  We all know that sometimes things don’t always go to plan – sharing how you’ve overcome those setbacks and achieved great results helps the judges better understand why your campaign was such a success.”

The Performance Marketing Awards are hugely successful for many reasons:

Talking about the awards, Ante commented: “Winning one [a PMA] is the perfect way to get your technology and its possibilities to the market and raise awareness about your brand. Not only will your campaigns and tech be presented to the board of judges, but also to all key networks, publishers and agencies on the market which could open a lot of doors for you.”

Judges are selected from across the industry so you have a broad viewpoint from those that have actual experience and have worked in this industry for years.

Kudzai said: “Winning a PMA shows recognition of the innovative work that we are surrounded by in our field and also adds credibility to the work as all entries are judged impartially. Being able to benchmark your work against others that are leaders in the industry is possible with the PMAs. Winning or being shortlisted shows that the work you are delivering sits above the rest in the field.”

Eniola said: “The PMAs have and continue to be an integral part of our industry and play a key role in highlighting and championing those organisations and individuals who are helping drive this industry forward.

“It’s great to have an awards show that doesn’t discriminate but encourages individuals, organisations, no matter their size or scale, to be innovative and think outside the box.”

Just entering the awards in itself helps everyone reflect on their challenges as well as successes over the past year and I think that is really important for the growth of the organisations as well as the industry as a whole. It also helps identify those gaps and areas that have been untouched, positively challenges old mechanisms and hopefully inspires the next generation of marketers to strive for better.

PerformanceIN and the judges are wishing good luck to all the entries and we can’t wait to celebrate with you all in person in May at the Performance Marketing Awards ceremony! If you haven’t yet submitted your entry, please make sure to do so now!