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The Drum Awards for Search 2023 preview: everything you need to know


By The Drum, Editorial

November 16, 2023 | 5 min read

The sharpest brains in global search will gather in London on November 28 as The Drum Awards Festival throws its spotlight on the search marketing sector. Will you join them?

Total Media

Total Media's work for BMW was nominated in the Paid Search category

Search is often overlooked in the glitzy world of advertising, but it remains the best way to connect companies with the people looking for them. The Drum Awards for Search recognize creative thinking, strategy and technological innovation, setting the standard for best practice.

The Drum Awards Festival is The Drum’s two-week celebration of the very best marketing, digital, creative and media campaigns from brands and agencies around the world and will see 15 live shows staged at The Drum Labs in Shoreditch.

Last year’s Search Awards saw Kleenex pick up the Grand Prix for Your Pollen Pal, while the Chair’s Awards went to LNER and Reprise was crowned Agency of the Year. (Check out all of last year’s Search Awards results.)

This year’s Awards were chaired by Jason Lax, technical SEO expert at SAP, and Lindsey Wiltse, senior SEO account director at Syzygy UK. They led a jury that included representatives from the likes of The Body Shop, Dell, LinkedIn, L’Oréal and Publicis.

The Drum’s senior reporter Sam Bradley caught up with Wiltse and Lax to talk about what went on inside the jury room as they deliberated the entries.

The hot topic in Search right now is the implementation of generative AI. Wiltse says judges this year saw AI solutions creeping into more of the work entered this year.

“A lot of the entries were a combination of new tools, proprietary tools, that are being integrated into workflows. We saw a lot of gen AI in paid search, using it for keyword research, which is a really popular way to use it right now,” she says.

However, she stressed that the jury was most impressed by the work that “went back to basics.”

“A lot of people are trying to do stuff that’s new and exciting, but with all the generative AI out there just now, it was nice to see tough conversations happening with clients about why the basics still need to be done,” she continues.

Her advice for those entering the awards in the future was to not only put forward work that is pushing the boundaries.

“I don’t think there needs to be a huge reinvention of the wheel if your back-to-basics is what did the job. We want to see ROI. Innovative thought is great, but if the client is happy with the results, bring that forward. The most impressive conversations we had were not about ‘this has never been done before’ but rather ‘this was a problem we’d had for a while, here’s how we solved it and here’s what the results were,’” she says.

Lax agrees: “For me, it was important to see there’s a demonstrated value to the work done. What was invested, and what came out of it? It’s supremely important. There’s a never-ending list of things that can and should be done, but you need to be clear on the value that came out of it. We want to know what was done, what the challenges were, how it was solved and how quickly.”

The Drum Awards for Search is part of The Drum Awards Festival, which takes place from November 27 to December 8. For more information on the Festival and how to attend, visit the website.

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