A little bit of history...
While the Digital Signage Awards have only been around for three years, the 2009 version will mark the contest's second large revision. Why? Well, part of it is that we're trying to honor feedback from past entrants. Another part is that digital signage continues to be a moving target, making it very hard to hit. As I noted in last year's article on how to win POPAI's Digital Signage Awards contest:
Having either watched, judged or participated in lots of digital signage-themed contests in the past two years, my team knew exactly what we didn't want. We didn't want touch screen kiosks that happen to show content occasionally. We didn't want interactive TV programs. And we didn't want entries from "networks" that still rely on mailing out CDs or DVDs instead of getting content over the Internet. What we did want was a way to showcase the best and most innovative networks and the content that runs on them. Realizing that it was impossible to compare a network (e.g. the way the screens were hung, integration with the venue's environment, etc.) with individual pieces of content, the first thing we did is split POPAI's Digital Signage Awards into two divisions: one devoted to the nuts-and-bolts aspects of making the networks great, and the other for showcasing outstanding digital signage content.I stand by our decision to make these changes, and they helped us generate more than double the number of entries compared to previous years. But we still had some naysayers. As soon as the new rules were published, we got requests from people wanting to enter their interactive devices in the running. We got complaints from big networks about little guys with only one screen submitting their "network" for an award. All told, there were over a dozen suggestions for ways to improve the contest, most of which were incompatible with one another (e.g. "too many categories" versus "too few categories"). Since this contest is supposed to be serving the industry, we've decided to go back to the drawing board and make more changes.
With that problem out of the way, the next thing we looked at was the different kinds of networks that we might expect to receive entries from. One of my biggest gripes about other digital signage contests has been that they're either too focused on one particular vertical market (e.g. retail), or they treat all content from different verticals the same. We wanted a way to highlight the subtle differences that make networks and content for different verticals, well, different. So we further split the contest into five different categories: retail, transportation, hospitality/entertainment, healthcare and government/education/corporate. With these fine-grained categories and divisions, we should be able to accurately judge and showcase entries from virtually any part of the digital signage market.
So what's the solution?
If I knew what the solution was, I wouldn't be writing this article right now :) But if there's one thing I've learned, it's that sometimes there really is wisdom in crowds. And I believe that's especially true with the group of folks who read this blog regularly. So I put together a little survey below that I'd love your feedback on. (Email and RSS subscribers: if you don't see the survey, click here to view this article and the survey on the web.) I'm also asking for other comments and feedback -- just write them in the usual spot below. (Again, email and RSS subscribers, you might have to use the link above.) So, if you have a particular opinion about why one approach to the Digital Signage Awards is better than another, I'd like to know about that too. Ask your friends and partners in the industry to read this article, take the survey, and leave their comments too. After all, the more feedback we get at this point, the more complete and encompassing the contest will be. So c'mon -- it's only eight questions and will take you less than two minutes to complete. Let us know your opinion, and help us make a contest that can truly highlight the best and brightest in the business!