Fae Savignano, Senior Vice President and expert on all things promotional, weighs in on what good criteria are for judging a contest in her blog post for the month.
As you are all probably aware, a contest is a game of skill; whereby entrants are judged on their ability to successfully perform skill-type activities. For example, writing an essay, preparing a recipe, answering trivia questions or solving puzzles would all be deemed to require skill.
To solidify the importance and absolute necessity of skill in a Contest, sponsors should focus on and clearly identify the scoring and judging process to be employed. The contest requirements, the criteria on which each entry will be judged, and the relative weight given to each criterion should be clearly identified. It is also important to state who will be judging these entries, their qualifications if applicable and explain the method of judging each entry.
Good judging criteria for contests should be thoughtfully considered when designing a contest, as the sponsor must clearly define their specific criteria for judging entries within the Official Rules. Selection of the appropriate judging criteria should be based on what are the sponsor’s goal(s) for the contest; what type of ROI and product/customer information they are trying to collect; how this fits into their advertising/social media plan; and, what has proven to work best in past “like” promotions.
For example, essay contests can be judged on originality, content, clarity of expression, humor and creativity; photo contests on composition, originality, clarity and quality of photo, color and creativity; video contests on originality; overall artistic impression; audience appeal, audio and visual quality of video and entertainment quality; recipe contests on ease of preparation, visual appeal and taste. In trivia and puzzle games, winners are judged by their ability to correctly answer the questions or solve the puzzles, sometimes with a time factor applied. Additional judging criteria examples include: appropriateness to theme; functionality, visual design, Creativity and uniqueness of concept and innovative means of delivering the message to name a few.
Once the judging criteria have been established, appropriate percentages must be assigned to each for an overall total of 100%. The percentage assigned to each criterion should be weighted upon the relevance to the promotion; the brand requirement and the sponsor’s goals. It is also important to ensure that judging criteria is objective, judges are expertly qualified, entrants compete on a level playing field, and tie-breakers are based on skill. And, remember that skill promotions require more administration than games of chance, because all entries must be considered and judged.
To learn more about running a skill contest and customizing the judging criteria to meet your goals, contact us.
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What is a Contest?
A contest is an activity where skill is needed to win. Unlike a Sweepstakes where a random draw identifies the winner, in a contest the participants has to take an action that requires some degree of skill. That degree of skill depends on what the promotion or event is asking the participant to do. For example; in an essay where participants enter and compete by submitting original writing.
The Judging Criteria
Contests also have an element of competition that requires the Sponsor or agency to set clear contest judging criteria so participants know how their entries will be judged. This criteria will also tell the judging body what to look for and how to assign value or rank entries. As a marketer, you can save yourself a lot of potential trouble, and complaints, if your judging criteria is clear to all participants and judges. For example: “Essay Submissions must be in English, comply with Official Rules, meet all requirements called for on the Contest Website and be original work not exceeding 1,000 characters in length.”
The “How-To” Guide for Judging
In a contest, the judging criteria is an attempt to focus the participants, as well as the judges, on the expected outcome of the entry. Properly designed judging criteria aims to minimize the judges unconscious biases and focus their attention on the qualities that are going to be weighed and assigned a value or score. For example, a judging criteria score sheet may rank values as “33.3% for creativity, 33.3% for originality; and 33.3% for adherence to topic.”
Judges (ideally more than one) should be experts or have some degree of expertise in what they are judging. This is not a requirement, but it helps the Sponsor or contest administrator select the winner. The contestants also gain a sense of fair play when they see the winner was chosen by experts.
How to Pick Judges for the Contest
If you can’t find expert judges, then individuals or a group with a clear understanding of the judging criteria and no conflicts of interest or bias could serve as judges. Beyond the judging criteria, the judges should have seen enough examples of the work being judged to determine what is considered poor, average and exceptional within the criteria.
Ultimately, judges aim to assign a total value or points to each entry and select the winner based on total amount of points earned.
A shortcut to judging large numbers of entries is to use social media networks to judge on your behalf up to a certain degree. For example, you can run your contest on Facebook and have the fans vote for the top five entries. From there a more formalized judge or contest administrator can select the winner based on the criteria. This can work well, but there are risks associated with fan voting. One of the risks is that participants can simply ask their friends to vote for them regardless of the quality of the work. It undermines the promotional effort when a poor entry gets lots of votes. This is why we don’t recommend that fan votes make the final decision on who wins.
Protect Your Contest With Judging Criteria
Having your judging criteria set will also protect the integrity of the contest and guide judges if there is a tie. A well-articulated judging criteria will explain what to do in the event of a tie. For example; “In the event of a tie for any potential Winning Entry, the score for Creativity/Originality will be used as a tiebreaker.” Or “If there still remains a tie, Sponsor will bring in a tie-breaking Judge to apply the same Judging Criteria to determine the winner.”
Bottom Line: Contests are a Great Marketing Tool
Contests are worth the effort and repay the sponsor handsomely. They’re fun and generate a lot of buzz, awareness and potential sales for the sponsor. Just make sure your judging criteria are set in place. If you need any help with your contest let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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