Magazine article Marketing

Online Oscars

Magazine article Marketing

Online Oscars

Article excerpt

As the nominations begin for the 1998 Yell Awards, Robert Dwek reviews last year's winners and the benefits that can be gained by the chosen few

Nominations for the 1998 Yell Awards are now being accepted (closing date May 8) and the winners will be revealed on July 9. Now in their third year, these awards have already established themselves as the Oscars of the UK Internet industry, with lashings of kudos to be enjoyed by the winners. Confirming its commitment to this rapidly emerging medium, Marketing has become a sponsor of this year's awards, alongside Internet.Works magazine and Sky's Computer Channel.

Although there is one more category this year - bringing the total to ten - the judges are hoping for a rather more manageable number of nominations than in 1997, when they had to wade through more than 5000 Web sites. While this was a very encouraging sign, many of the nominees turned out to be less than 100% relevant to their chosen category. The aim this year, says Yell's Barbara Newman, is to "make people think more about what they are nominating".

The 1998 categories see the merger of two of last year's categories - Best Design with Most Innovative Web Site - as well as the addition of two new ones: Best Entertainment Site and Best Online Banner Ad, the latter of which should make marketing ears prick up.

Defining categories

Six of the other categories remain exactly the same, being: Best Personal Web Site, Best Non-Commercial Web Site, Best Online Publication, Best Commercial Web Site, Best Web Site Design Agency and Site of the Year, while the newly-coined Web Users' Choice replaces last year's Readers' Choice, presumably because 'readers' sounds a bit too restrictive, not to mention old-world, in this increasingly visuals-led society.

So, what will the judges be looking for this year? Originality and innovation would be a good place to start. "We've noticed that there are definite styles which come and go on the Web," says Newman, "and some styles from last year already look quite dated." Apart from that, Yell's assembled judges will be looking for "strong design, cleanness and relevance to the target audience".

When it comes to relevance for marketers, the Yell Awards should be noted for their Best Commercial Web Site, Most Innovative Web Site, Web Users' Choice (where Joe Nethead gets to have his say), Best Web Site Design Agency (how does your agency compare?) and, of course, the aforementioned Best Online Banner Ad.

What Web developments has Newman noticed since the last awards ceremony? "It seems to have been a period of consolidation," she says. "Companies have been using their Web sites in more sophisticated and integrated ways, so that they don't stand quite so much apart from the rest of their marketing activity."

The aim of the awards is, obviously, to promote Yell as a key player in the UK Internet market (in case you hadn't made the connection, Yell is the online version of Yellow Pages and therefore a subsidiary of BT) but they are also intended to raise industry standards and challenge the US-centric image of Web development. Winners will receive free publicity on the back of Yell's own advertising after the results have been announced.

Winners from last year seem pretty positive about the value of UK-focused Internet awards and about the standing of Yell in particular. Most of them felt they benefited from their raised profile and some noted that this external endorsement had made it easier to raise further funds from within the company.

Double exposure

Teletext (www.teletext.co.uk), which won Best Online Publication, is still celebrating its win. "It was marvellous to have that kind of recognition, particularly since we'd covered the launch of the Yell site (www.yell.co.uk) and had made a promise to ourselves that we'd be one of the first winners," says Graham Lovelace, editor-in chief of Teletext.

He adds: "The award generated some valuable internal and external PR at a crucial time for us, since our strategy for Web publishing and digital broadcasting was well on the way to being finalised. …

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