Bravery, experimentation and alignment: Judging chair Pete Robins on the key themes of this year's IPA Media Owner Awards

Phew! Another year gone; the IPA Media Owner Awards survey results have been compiled, another few thousand words across a hoard of submitted competition entries have been dissected by a judging panel of the best digital minds in the business, and we are all set for the announcement of the winners on 25 November.

Pete Robins

So what are the themes from this year’s media owner awards?

With some of the shackles of the previous few years relaxed, brave ideas and experimentation are on the up. It’s fair to say the award entries reflect the ongoing changes of media behaviour across the three screens of desktop, tablet and mobile, as well as the rise of more video ‘stuff’. There were a few ‘I wished we’d done that’ moments which is great, yet a stark reminder that you can’t stay still if you want to keep up.

It’s obvious to say that digital, or online media, is reliant on technology. And it would also be obvious to say that the pace of advancing technology is making digital media ever more useful, clever, valuable, interesting, measurable (or not), and other positive words I could look up on thesauraus.com. But what is less obvious is that as more tech becomes part of how we do what we do, maybe paradoxically, the reliance on people becomes even greater.

The stimulus for liberating great tech, or for adapting and applying stuff already built, mostly comes from us in the industry – and it has to be useful, not theoretical. It’s all very well to be ‘real-time’ but you have to understand why you’re doing it in the first place – a macro and micro alignment.

And that alignment comes from a mix of people across agencies, media owners, tech developers, planners, analysts and, ultimately, those with the budgets: clients. As we all get to dig under the skin of campaigns, in sometimes overwhelming detail, we are understanding more about the cause and effect of the work we do, sometimes with the brutal reality that it didn’t work, or sometimes with relief that it did.

The best media owners, people and tech from this year showed this spirit of alignment.

Digital is (obviously) a big part of marketing and that means there are (obviously) many people engaged with what we do. There are lots of cogs that need to work together, from the front of house sales to the behind the scene operations, for any business to deliver on what it sells. There are some very good people who consistently deliver and alas some that don’t. If you don’t know your product, if you can’t pull together the assets you have (whether it be an audience, a piece of tech, a bit of media real estate), if you can’t deliver what you promise, you aren’t much use to a day-to-day agency person.

Chairing the awards again this year showed me there are some fantastic examples of what can be done. Interestingly one of the strongest sets of entries came in the cross media category, where digital was the primary medium but very much aligned to the strengths of other media. Whilst this may (yet again) sound obvious, this year’s entries were a level up on previous years. In the past this hasn’t been the strongest category, but maybe this will now become the norm?

So do the Media Owner Awards matter?

The MOA was created to allow us on the agency side within the walls of the esteemed IPA to take a step back, look at, review and then ultimately reward those on the sales, supply, tech and media owner side of the business. Agencies rely on good partners as no one business can do it all by itself; the people make the difference. Our awards reflect this across both the survey results and the submission -based entries. They are robust and representative, combining the views of agencies from group networked agencies through to specialist digital independents, as well as clients. If you have been shortlisted, and even win, then congratulations, you’ve (obviously) earned it!

Pete Robins is chairman of judges for the IPA Media Owner Awards and managing partner at Agenda 21

The 2014 Media Owner Awards ceremony will take place on 25 November at The Bloomsbury Ballroom. Further information and ticket details can be found here.

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