The Digital Signage Insider

Survey results: Improving the POPAI Digital Signage Awards

Published on: 2008-08-22

Back in July, I posted a survey asking how you'd like to see the POPAI Digital Signage Awards change in 2009. Over the course of a week, we got around 50 completed responses -- not too bad, but considering this blog has well over 10,000 regular readers, I have to admit I'm a tad disappointed. Still, the data was good enough to help point us in the right direction. Today, I'd like to share a few of the survey results with you and provide a sneak peek of some of the changes we'll be making thanks to your feedback. Nothing is set in stone yet, so if there's something that you'd really like to see changed, be sure to let me know by leaving a comment.

Who responded to the survey?

We had a total of 49 completed entries before the poll closed. (You can still view the original call for feedback on POPAI's Digital Signage Awards, but the survey itself is no longer available.) I was working under a deadline for POPAI, so I couldn't leave it up for a longer period -- maybe next time! In total, I estimate the people who responded account for about 1.5% of the subscribers who are likely to read an article the first week after it has been written. Not surprisingly, most of the respondents identified themselves as working directly in the digital signage industry. Those who wrote in their own answer were either in media or consulting:

Answer Percent
Digital signage services company (hardware, software, etc.) 46.94%
Digital signage network owner 26.53%
Other answer... 10.20%
Content production company 8.16%
Advertising/marketing agency 6.12%
Venue owner (retailer, hospital, bank, etc.) 2.04%

How should we categorize the entries?

The issue of categorizing entries was a biggie for me, and I was hoping to tap the wisdom of the crowds to get a feel for how to make our categories better and more relevant for everyone. In 2008, we separated contest entries based on the vertical market (retail, hospitality, health care, etc.) that they served. While we hoped this would make it easier to compare like entries, all it did was create an unnatural division of the entries -- leaving some categories stacked with tons of submissions, while others were mostly empty. Further, between the five identified vertical market groups and two divisions (one for judging screen content, and the other for judging network implementations), we already had a lot of categories, but not nearly enough to encompass all of the vertical markets that signs find their way into. There had to be a better way. So, I asked respondents whether it was useful to essentially keep the two separate contests, one for content and the other for implementation. The result was a resounding yes -- over 85% said so. Nearly an equal number, just over 80%, said that the vertical market divisions were useful too. However, when presented with specific alternatives, along with a way to suggest their own, the latter number changed drastically:

Answer Percent
Separating by experiential, advertising & informational 42.42%
The old way, separating the entries by venue type 42.42%
Separating by commercial/non-commercial 9.09%
Other answer... 6.06%

The alternative structure of separating entries based on their primary purpose -- either advertising, showing non-advertising information, or improving their host venue's "experience" -- proved just as attractive to survey respondents. This was actually my favorite option as well, for two reasons. First, it matches entries together based on intent and business model -- advertising content for grocery and hospitality might look very similar, but in the old system, they'd be classified in different categories. Second, it reduces the number of "base" categories from five to only three, further raising the chances that similar entries will be judged against each other.

What else might change?

That contraction from ten categories (five vertical markets x two divisions for content and network implementation) to only six proves important for another reason: nearly two-thirds of respondents (62%) suggested that interactive touch screen entries should be allowed as well. We specifically forbade these devices last year because we decided it would be very hard to judge a retail kiosk application versus a retail digital signage content clip, which is how it would have been done. However, with only six categories for our non-interactive content, we can easily add another three for interactive entries while still keeping the total category count lower than last year. This means that kiosk entries can be judged by purpose, just like digital sign entries, but still be kept separate from their non-interactive cousins.

Another change that we're mulling over is the addition of one more award -- the people's choice award (or something similar that doesn't impinge on existing copyrights). In short, we're looking into an American Idol-style system that would allow the general public to vote on all of the entries by viewing photos and videos on the web. While these results wouldn't count towards the official POPAI judges' results, we might present a separate award to the winner of this poll at the awards gala during GlobalShop 2009.

Finally, expect a big price reduction compared to last year. I got plenty of feedback, on the poll form and elsewhere, about this issue. Rest assured that we're going to do our best to make the contest as affordable as possible.

Well, those are some of the things that we have in the works right now, and I'm sure I'll have more changes to tell you about (and get your opinion on) in the future. We'll also do another article and webinar explaining how to enter and how to improve your odds of winning once the rules are finalized. Thanks again to all of you who participated in our survey. Your results will be counted, and we will try hard to get your suggestions and improvements implemented this time around. However, like I said in the beginning, if there's something here that you're not satisfied with, leave a comment below and we'll see what we can do!

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