Abbys dismissing awards for search advertising is a travesty : Benedict Hayes

For digital brands like BookMyShow, Remit2India and Cleartrip, search is the lion's share of their marketing budgets and to simply dismiss the category is unfair says Benedict Hayes, VP & Head of Strategy, iProspect Communicate2

e4m by Benedict Hayes
Updated: Jun 3, 2014 9:18 AM
Abbys dismissing awards for search advertising is a travesty : Benedict Hayes

According to the recent Abby Awards, search is seen as an unwanted stepchild in advertising, where brilliant work gets dismissed as irrelevant. Search globally is the mainstay of most advertising departments, after all it is the only medium where 100% efficacies can be tracked. So why is it that the Abby Awards in India deem it as so inconsequential and irrelevant that they removed the Best use of Search category from the awards?

My assumption as to why, is that people who work in search are deemed as “non-creative”, after all how can 25, 35 and 35 characters be enough to show real creative artistic direction, it’s not exactly a TV ad is it. But then if people are going to dismiss search as non-creative, then why have the awards in the first place. The reality is that, I seriously question the ability of the Judges to judge if a search campaign is good or not. After all how can someone who only deals in TV, Print and Visual ads actually have the technical capabilities, to understand if a search campaign has been intelligently built and executed. Ask yourself this, do you think a CMO understands what goes into writing scripts for ad server APIs and server side code to manipulate pages, to create a better performing creative.

Or for that matter how search campaigns are built. Visually, there may be very little that meets the eye, but does the creative execution and use of scripts, server side code, APIs and campaign structures not warrant appreciation and credit, especially when media efficiencies of 10-20% are gained because of them.

I think we need to go back to basics here, as to what defines art:

“The expression or application of human creative skill and imagination”

All three of the case studies nominated for the Best use of Search this year at the Abbys showed the above. The teams that executed the campaigns for Book My Show, Cleartrip and Remit2India all showed very creative approaches to problems, for getting to the most efficient ad creative. But for some reason only known to the Judges of the Abbys, none of them warranted recognition.

Although the ad units were mundane, the thought process into building and getting the ad units up, to be as efficient as possible, were in all instances brilliantly creative. They required intelligence and creative thought to get to the outcomes. I grant the fact that the 25, 35 and 35 characters cannot be that most exciting creative because of its nature, but I am sorry, I must say the creative thought that went into building the ad APIs to publish the ads were brilliant.

I am not going to go into the Cleartrip and Remit2India campaigns as they came from my team, I want to look at the Book My Show one which was deployed by Interactive Avenues my direct competitor:

What Interactive Avenues did for the Book My Show campaign was not only intelligent, it was incredibly laborious and time consuming. To bifurcate a campaign to the level that they did would of taken a lot of people a very long time, or they would have to of employed a technical solution which is not readily available on the market to plug and play. Someone with brains would have had to orchestrate it. It would have been an incredible feat in itself to set-up at the back end, yet the judges don’t even seem to care or realise what goes into this kind of work - application of human creative skill and imagination, perhaps?

Let’s also look at the results, their creative strategy improved media performance by 14%. So what does that represent?

According to; Book My Show gets 1.2 crore visits a month of which 43% comes from search.

Of the 43% of 1.2 crore visits, 23% of that is paid search that means on a monthly basis Book My Show are buying 12,00,000 visitors a month from Google. Let’s look at Google now:

According to Google to be first place for cinema tickets costs rs.88 / click. Who is number 1 for cinema tickets?

Wow, Book my Show, who would have thought? Now I am not going to assume that Book My Show are spending rs.88/ click for 12 lakh visitors, because the guys at Interactive Avenues obviously know what they are up to by the nature of the case study they have presented, but this must give you some idea of the quantum of money Book My Show spend on a monthly basis. In fact I am going to be conservative and say they spend Rs.8 a click on average:

12,00,000 x Rs 8 = Rs 96,00,000

We can safely assume therefore Book My Show spends in the region of Rs 60-90 lakh a month on search. I want to underestimate my numbers so you get the reality of the quantum of success. That is therefore at least a Rs 8-10 crore / year budget on Search. Let’s look at the success metric 14% media efficiency. What is 14% of Rs 8 crore I hear you ask - Rs 1.12 crore.

Now if I said to you that you will save at least Rs 1 crore a year, 14% of your media because of a very intelligent campaign structure, would you not think that merited a little recognition, after all how many extra TV slots can you buy with Rs1 crore?

Like I said I am not going to go into the Cleartrip and Remit2India case studies as they came from my team, but I will say this, they spend similar budgets through search and they received similar cost efficiencies.

I have worked in Search for over 10 years, I have seen more campaigns and innovations globally than I can shake a stick at. I have overseen and been part of, in the region of a ball park 5 billion dollars of spends in 10 years through search; I can tell you all three of the case studies nominated, warranted some recognition. They were innovative, intelligently executed and yielded substantial results for the clients.

I cannot believe that a so called reputable awards ceremony, could give so little importance to such a key marketing function. For digital brands like Book My Show, Remit 2 India and Cleartrip, search is the lion’s share of their marketing budgets and to simply dismiss it, as the judges do not understand it, is ridiculous.

Abbys charge agencies Rs.7,000 per entry, yet they give entries to awards, where the judges that judge do not understand the technicalities of what goes on at the back end. We spent good money to create video entries, storyboards, submit, fly, stay and attend only to be told on the day that they are dismissing our category. For a performance lead agency, where search recognition is critical, this is a travesty. Even if we did not warrant an award, in my opinion my opposition did and we could at least be given the courtesy of being told that the awards were cancelled.

I am glad that the Interactive Avenues campaign got recognition at IAMAI and we got recognition at the DMAi, Yahoo! and Customer Engagement awards, its seems at least some awards ceremonies in India know what they are doing when it comes to search. I can now see why the likes of Ogilvy, Lintas and Creativeland Asia boycotted the awards this year; they are run by amateurs who wouldn’t know intelligent search advertising if it hit them in the face. This is the last time we submit to these as well, as they are a hyped up crock of nonsense.

The three entries that got through the judging rounds and nominated for recognition were:

Book My Show:



I would love to know if these finalists actually deserved recognition and why the ABBYs felt to dismiss the category?


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