Busting six IPA Effectiveness Awards myths

There are common myths that could be holding you back from writing an entry.

Completing an IPA Effectiveness Awards entry gives you invaluable insights into what worked in communications and what didn’t but there are some myths that could be holding you back from writing an entry.

1. "You have to use econometrics to win."

Typically, approximately only half of Effectiveness Awards entries use econometrics models to calculate the financial value created by communications.

Econometrics can be an invaluable tool, especially for commercial brands. It helps disentangle the impact of different brand activities and quantify their financial contribution. But it is only one evaluation technique and cannot prop up a weak Awards entry.

Alternative methods include comparing the brand’s performance after communications started with underlying past or sector trends, comparison with results from markets where the activities featured in the entry did not run, regional control tests, and/or how showing how buying behaviour changed in phase with the duration of communications investment.

Cases featuring commercial brands that won IPA Effectiveness Awards in 2020 without using econometrics include: Heinz [Seriously] Good Mayonnaise, Tango, Tourism Central Coast, Formula 1, and KFC

2. "The Awards are not for my kind of organisation."

The IPA Effectiveness Awards reward entries that demonstrate convincingly how a brand’s activities achieved meaningful objectives.

Those objectives could be commercial, not for profit, behavioural, or some other type of goal. Past winners have included cases built around user experience design, PR, branded content, new product development, all forms of digital media and communications of every type – not just advertising.

3. "Judges favour TV ad campaigns and big agencies."

The Awards do not involve any media-specific categories, and entrants can use any channel or combination of channels.

Winners are awarded on the strength of their proof, regardless of media environments chosen (or whether an entry involves no use of conventional channels at all). By applying judging criteria, such as scale of task and strength of solution, to the specific contexts of very different cases, the judges aim to remove any advantages of size or budget.

Companies of all sizes have won the top IPA Effectiveness Awards, including the Grand Prix.

Just since 2018, Effectiveness Awards winners with modest budgets and no TV advertising have included KFCElla’s KitchenSkittles, Starbucks and Prospan. The Awards also have a dedicated prize for the Best Small Budget case.

4. "Calculating ROMI is the same as demonstrating effectiveness."

Activities are effective if they achieve their stated goals. By contrast, efficiency is the measure of how much resource was used to achieve a goal. ROMI (Return on Marketing Investment) is a metric used to calculate this efficiency.

However, campaigns can grow more efficient as they become less effective in delivering against their objectives. And vice versa.  ROMI can also be distorted by reducing the budget invested in the activity, making the return higher.

While demonstrating the efficiency of your work using metrics such as ROMI can be a useful part of your proof of results, the Awards judges are looking to reward demonstrations of effectiveness built on a broader base of evidence. To learn more on long-term measures to embed knowledge about the principles of effectiveness into decision-making in your organisation, take a look at the IPA Effectiveness Essentials Certificate.

5. "Clients will never sign-off the necessary data."

The inclusion of real world data in IPA Effectiveness Awards cases is one reason why these cases have been important in promoting greater understanding of communications effectiveness among marketers and other decision-makers.

Even notoriously secretive clients have signed off Effectiveness Awards entries, and fears that data would be commercially sensitive if included in an entry are usually overdone. Entries are usually based on data that is at least in part historic and there is approximately another six months between the Awards entry deadline and cases being published. 

Where individual figures are sensitive, many entries have successfully used indexed charts and publicly available data as part of their results calculations.  Across the history of the Awards, there have been no instances where the inclusion of data in a published case led to any real problems. However, client refusal has often arisen because clients were not involved in the case from a sufficiently early stage, so if this is likely to be an issue, consult the advice in the 2022 Awards Entry Pack.

6. "They are like other awards – just harder."

This is half true. The IPA Effectiveness Awards are different from other competitions, and this is in part because they involve more rigour from both entrants and judges.

However, this effort won’t be wasted, whether you win an Award or not. Completing an IPA Effectiveness entry gives you invaluable insights into what worked in communications and why, and what didn’t. It will make you a better practitioner and give you the knowledge and tools to demonstrate your value to your clients or managers.

And as past winners have attested, being personally involved in an IPA Effectiveness Award-winning entry, serves as an industry recognition that can boost the profile and careers of participants.

Find out more about the IPA Effectiveness Awards
Last updated 01 May 2024