Innovation, Inventiveness, Inspiration: What The Wires Awards Judges Are Looking For

The Wires Awards are fast approaching and, at ExchangeWire, we’re gearing up to celebrate the very best in the digital marketing industry.

Celebrated each November, The Wires Global recognises the best use of digital media, marketing, and commerce. Placing a particular focus on ad tech and martech, the ceremony celebrates innovation and expertise across the digital marketing industry with a series of awards as varied as the sector itself; last year, Index Exchange’s Sarah Vincent took home the prestigious Ad Tech Personality of the Year award. The esteemed title of Ad Tech Rising Star, meanwhile, went to Ann Jack, country director of Group M’s Xaxis Norway.

With the shortlist of this year’s nominees to be revealed on Friday, we caught up with some of this year’s judges. Representing a variety of brands, publishers, and agencies across the ad tech and martech landscape, our judges share what they’re excited about for this year’s The Wires Awards.

Kudzai Mubaiwa, head of performance - Performics, Spark Foundry

This is my first time judging at the Wires, so I am honoured to get the chance to have a front row seat at assessing the innovation, passion and hard work that goes into developing each and every campaign. Seeing all the amazing work, especially at a global level, will be exciting for me and the fellow judges.

I love the global aspect of these awards, which highlight the creativity and innovation from brands, agencies, and tech companies internationally. With so many changes impacting the digital space over the past 12 months, I'm excited to see what common challenges the industry is experiencing globally, and also what solutions come into play on a local level. I'd love to see a clear articulation of the objectives, the challenges and the 'big idea' that was executed to overcome them. The day to day will always be there, but with awards, it comes down to the articulation and showcase of 'what was new', ‘what did we believe would work’ or ‘what pushes this execution out of BAU’.

Giovanni Brusetti, director, digital marketing & products, Kenvue

I am looking for mastery across owned and paid channels and their orchestration. Brands are bound by knowledge and technology gaps between martech and ad tech, and true omnichannel players can blend these two ecosystems and build differentiation, achieving better reach at lower cost. Mastering omnichannel is not only a sign of consumer-focus, but also of organisational and cultural maturities any brand should strive for.

Rob Beeler, founder & CEO, Beeler.Tech

I am looking forward to being a judge because every innovative idea sparks even more ideas. Digital advertising and ad tech continue to evolve and, by highlighting those companies and individuals that bring their creativity to solving problems, we can steer the industry in the right direction. The Wires Global helps bring that about.

Hannah Buitekant, managing director, digital, dmg media

I’m honoured to be a judge for The Wires 2023! ExchangeWire has its finger on the pulse of the industry, and I had the pleasure of being a guest on The MadTech Podcast just a few months ago. As always, I’m looking forward to collaborating with my media colleagues and learning first-hand about advancements in the market. I’m excited to look at cutting-edge work from a judge’s unique perspective and to share my thoughts and feedback on industry topics. I’ve always advocated for change and growth in media so, as a judge, I’ll be looking for outside-the-box solutions that push boundaries. As we know, using the right tool for the job is also crucial, so I’d also like to see evidence of how results were achieved using the most-effective solution available. 

Dee Frew, ad tech specialist, Guardian News & Media

The digital ad industry is always in flux, but it feels like the status quo is really going to be shaken up in the next year. As William Gibson said: "The future is already here – it's just not very evenly distributed", so I'll be looking out for submissions that seek to forge our new paradigm over those that still cling to the dying cookie empires. Being a judge gives me the opportunity to lift my head from my own parapet and discover what else is out there, waiting to be harnessed.

Paul Phillips, strategy & insights director, South China Morning Post

The Wires 2023 carries great significance as it's an opportunity for us to take stock of the industry's landscape and the escalating demands on marketing. Marketing holds vast potential, but it’s only by learning and being inspired by each other that we can unlock its value. Among the most impactful, potent and enigmatic elements lies insight – the catalyst for driving behavioural change and fostering growth, the cornerstone of exceptional work.

Michelle Sarpong, head of display, audio & OOH activation, the7stars

I'm really excited to be part of this esteemed judging panel celebrating the campaigns that really thrived and pivoted their clients’ businesses. What I am looking for are brands that were undeniably forward-thinking in their approach and agile in a disruptive market. While living in a world where consumer habits have evolved so rapidly, it’s all about navigating this new landscape and overcoming challenges we may not have encountered before. I want to highlight campaigns that were able to balance driving business impact as well as having consumers interest at their heart.

Kyle Smith, group head of performance marketing, Paysafe Group

The marketing landscape is full of challenge and change, with never a dull moment. I’m incredibly excited to be a judge and just be inspired by a fantastic variety of approaches to modern marketing with innovation laced throughout! Ensuring the customer remains as the central point of focus is vital and then it’s about the balance struck between simplicity and inventiveness. I just feel incredibly lucky to be occupying a place alongside these incredible marketing leaders and have the opportunity to see the work that people are clearly just so proud of.

Jamie Lyons, global head of gaming & virtual experience, PHD Global

As marketing professionals we’re consistently bombarded with promises of the ‘next big thing’ and the conveyor belt of revolutionary technology has seemed to accelerate since the pandemic: with the rise and fall of the metaverse, the (re)emergence of AI, and all manner of innovations in data analysis, processing and application. Against this backdrop however, we rarely actually see emerging technology and media solutions translated into real-world activations – in fact, with economic factors applying pressure on marketing budgets and focussing attention on efficiency, we’re more adverse to experimentation than ever.

True innovation requires application and I’m excited to uncover and celebrate examples of campaigns and media approaches which unlock the impact and value of fresh thinking, technology and platforms to deliver disproportionate positive impact for brands.