Thursday, 15 November 2012

What exactly are interactive media projects?

The range of iMedia projects just seems to expand constantly and it makes it hard to define exactly what a project type is. No one has to face this dilemma as much as those running iMedia awards. Every year they scratch their heads to come up with categories that match what companies are producing. Similarly iMedia companies scratch their heads to understand which category to put which project in as they usually just define the project by client name.

November is historically the month when many iMedia awards take place in our industry so it’s a good time to review this question. It is fascinating to see how diverse the projects are no matter what the award categories are called. There still seems to be a dilemma about denoting projects according to
  1. the business sector of the client
  2. the technical/media use of the application, or
  3. the creativity of the media use.
That’s the old commerce versus techie versus creative bias that's been there from the beginning. Which set of skills dominates? Luckily there is a better blending and recognition of each other’s expertise now than previously. There is more of a team spirit than conflict of mindsets.

If we analyse the award categories across four of the main players we get a good grasp of the diversity of iMedia project types. Of course, we do need to concede that the organisers have to also pay attention to how to attract the most entries by the choice of category. Here goes then!

BIMA (British Interactive Media Association) is a generalist organisation representing the iMedia industry in the UK. It has 24 awards and splits the categories into Sectors, Disciplines and Premium. The Sectors are clearly business-focused – Branding, Business-to-business (b2b), Corporate, Entertainment, Leisure and Culture, Public Life. The disciplines are less focused and cover business thrust (commerce), platforms (techie), and creative use of the platforms. It’s here in the ‘disciplines’ that the traditional multi-disciplined factions of iMedia appear. Their Disciplines are: Advertising, Community Building, Direct and Targeted Marketing, Educational and Outreach, Engagement, Games, Integrated Campaign, Mash-ups and Data Visualisation, Mobile, Multi-platform, Self Promotion, Social Media/PR, Student and Viral. Their Premium Awards are strongly iMedia creative but also nominate a creative business for recognition of its contribution. For the awards see: www.bimaawards.com.

IMRG (Interactive Media and Retail Group) awards naturally have to focus on its membership of retailers, and the categories reflect this. But retailing is a strong, general iMedia sector so they are also represented in other awards groups without being so identifiable. These 15 awards are split across size of retailer probably in recognition that the size affects the budget, use of media and type of solution that the iMedia project can offer, types of platform used and creative use of media positively affecting the bottom business line. See their web site for specifics: www.imrg.org.

The Chief Marketer offered 27 PRO awards and their bias is marketing iMedia. They have a predominance of ‘promotion’ projects for awards since that business marketing need is being met across various uses of iMedia. They also specify some awards by platform (cross-platform, web, social, mobile, games, video etc.) and yet others by successful ‘event’ staged, and creative or innovative ideas. Check their awards out at chiefmarketer.com.

Then we have the Europrix awards that keep an eye on youth and innovation. Their finalists need to be from the 40 countries of Europe and aged under 30. This year the judging will be in Austria later this month and there are six categories divided by ethical subject matter.
  1. Fight Poverty, Hunger and Disease
  2. Education for all!
  3. Power 2 women!
  4. Create your Culture
  5. Go Green!
  6. Pursue Truth!
This clearly suits educational institutions and student projects but it’s good that someone looks strongly to the next generation of iMediaites.

Perhaps then there isn’t one answer to the question posed in the title and may never be. It’s an evolving industry so we can only take snap-shots at particular times for now.

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