Inaugural IAB Awards celebrates the smartest ‘geeks’ in the industry

Last night, among the historical aeroplanes on display at the Motat Aviation Hall, the digital advertising specialists of our industry were acknowledged at the inaugural IAB Awards dinner.

7 Days head writer Nick Rado served as the flight captain for the event, distributing a total of eleven awards over the course of proceedings.

Despite wrestling with a range of technical hiccups and a few awkward moments, Rado kept the crowd entertained with his cheeky giggle and an endless stream of off-the-cuff observations about the venue, the winners and the jargon-laden descriptions of each of the categories.

It has become something of a cliché for advertising audiences to outright ignore the host, but this wasn’t the case for the IAB event. The audience was generally respectful, applauding every winner and listening to their speeches. This is perhaps because the audience was smaller at only around 250 guests, but also because this wasn’t your regular crew of advertising folk.

In fact, the entire aim of the event was to fill a void in the current awards cycle.

IAB chief executive Adrian Pickstock told StopPress that part of the motivation for the awards event was to celebrate the achievements of the hardworking professionals who generally don’t get any of the limelight.

This might not be the sexy part of the industry but with ASA ad spend figures placing digital advertising as the biggest category by some margin, digital experts are playing an expanding role the marketing mix.

This event was also well timed given there were no winners in either the mobile or social categories at the recent Beacon Awards.  

Although Facebook and Google cast a long shadow over the digital advertising industry, the Awards had a strong local focus, first giving a nod to the interactive media sales and ad operations stars across the industry.

The media sales excellence categories were won by 1st Screen’s Stephanie Tucker (mobile category), Pandora’s Stephen Old (display), Exponential’s Jacque Fraser (video) and PHD’s Jared de Wet (search).

The ad ops person of the year categories belonged to Acquire Online, with Ashwin Sundaram winning the junior award and, his tutor, Zane Furtado claiming the senior gong.

The ad ops category presented one of the most heartfelt moments of the evening when Sundaram shared a bit of his career journey with the audience.

He first spoke of his enormous admiration for his bosses, and then took the unusual step of thanking them for giving him the opportunity to work in the industry.       

“If they didn’t offer me this job, I’d be binding books,” he said.

It was a poignant reminder that almost everyone is reliant on the opportunities they are given. 

From there, the event shifted to the product of the year—an award won by Made Media for its Allspark Platform.

Next came the four creative categories that aimed to draw attention to the importance of creativity to digital channels.

These awards went to 1st Screen in the use of mobile category, to FCB’s Qassem Naim in the use of data category, to Bauer’s Jaimee Kivell in the use of native category and to FCB’s Kate Grigg for a campaign by an advertiser.

All smiles from the team from Bauer.

Commenting on this collection of awards, Rado quipped that his only hope was that the “native category” wasn’t as racist as it sounded.

From there the IAB gave a nod to the pioneers in the online industry, recognising 12 individuals who had played an integral role in developing the digital advertising industry into the behemoth it has become.

It was perhaps award-winner Josh Borthwick, head of advertising at Trade Me, who best captured the sentiment of the evening by thanking the IAB for hosting an event that recognises the geeks in the industry.

After the 12 winners left the stage, attention shifted to the night’s big award: the Grand Prix.

This year, the accolade belonged to Zane Furtado, who Pickstock credited for having had an enormous influence on the industry.

By the time he made his second trip to the stage, Furtado had clearly been enjoying the festivities of the night. Visibly elated, he delivered a somewhat rambling speech with the general sentiment that he loved his job. No doubt he’ll be weathering a bit of a headache today.

The evening concluded with a quick standup gig by Rado, followed by an after party hosted by Quantcast.      

Category Winners

Digital Media Sales Excellence (Mobile): Stephanie Tucker, 1st Screen
Digital Media Sales Excellence (Display): Stephen Old, Pandora
Digital Media Sales Excellence (Video): Jacquie Fraser, Exponential
Digital Media Sales Excellence (Search): Jared de Wet, PHD
Junior Ad-Ops Person of the Year: Ashwin Sundaram, Acquire Online
Senior Ad-Ops Person of the Year: Zane Furtado, Acquire Online
Digital Product of the Year: Near Allspark Platform, MADE Media
Best Digital Led Campaign – Use of Mobile: Frucor V Pure i-Vid, 1st Screen/OMD
Best Digital Led Campaign – Use of Data: Gifts That Go Places, Qassem Naim, FCB
Best Digital Led Campaign – Use of Native: Xero Life Over Business, Jaimee Kivell, Bauer
Best Digital Led Campaign by an Advertiser: The Many Faces of Tiguan, Kate Grigg, FCB
Grand Prix: Zane Furtado, Acquire Online
Foundation Award recipients: Alisa Higgins, John Scholfield, Josh Borthwick, Laura Maxwell, Lee Williams (in absentia), Liz Fraser, Nick Boulstridge, Peter Henning, Sarah Kavanagh, Siobhan McKenna, Spencer Bailey, Toni Knowles.

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