With a sharp focus on how the Web benefits the bottom line at companies of all sizes, The International Academy of Digital Arts & Sciences unveiled the winners of the first-ever Webby Business Awards.
The awards are produced by The Academy, which also presents the annual Webby Awards, now in their eighth year. The Academy launched the Webby Business Awards last fall as a separate awards program aimed at recognizing the best business practices online.
Winners include Southwest Airlines, Bankrate, Apple iTunes and Sprite Remix in categories like Good Deeds, Food & Beverage, Customization and Branding & Design.
Judging for The Webby Business Awards is focused on the business objectives behind a Website, and creative criteria, which focus on the execution of the business initiative online.
The two women behind the Webbys – Tiffany Shlain, creative director and founder of the Webby Awards, and Maya Draisin, executive director of the International Academy of Digital Arts & Sciences, both took a moment to share the excitement of the success of businesses online.
Q: Can you tell us about the new Webby Business Awards why was it created?
Maya: About a year ago we announced an award program for the best business practices online. Weve just announced the results in 19 categories with MiniUSA.com leading the pack with two nominations for both Branding and Design and Auomotive.
Q: Whatt is MiniUSA.com?
Maya: It is the site that markets the Mini Cooper. It is really fun and it worked for them. The thing about the Business Awards is it honors not only the creative on the Website itself, but also their business success.
Q: Tell us about the business categories.
Tiffany: We are really focusing on business objectives so we have categories like branding and designing and cost-cutting, which really doesnt sound glamorous but its really interesting to see how the Web is being used to save people money and make people money online.
Q: Its really becoming a tool that companies are using to further their profitability and marketing reach. Tell us about the winner of the cost-cutting category.
Tiffany: Its Southwest.com! What they did was very, very simple. They moved the transaction online, which took them from $2 per transaction to 10 cents per transaction.
The reason we launched the Business Webby Awards in the first place was businesses finally reached a mature place. The Web is just making things simpler and more cost-effective for businesses.
Q: Did you try to fold in the business category into the main Webby Awards?
Tiffany: We are in our eighth year of handing out Webby Awards. Actually, were accepting nominations right now for the eighth annual Webbys in all of our categories: Art, Community, Sports. We do have some business categories in the main Webby Awards, but we just felt that business was getting so mature that we needed to devote a whole award show and really break it down to a lot of categories in business.
Q: You have a particularly interesting business awards category called Good Deeds. How do you judge good deeds online and how did these guys turn out to be the winners?
Maya: Good Deeds recognizes the site that is using the Internet for nonprofit or a good cause. The winner is called KidBuilding.org, which is a representative of the Boys and Girls Club of North America. They did the most amazing thing, which is it took the application process for the franchise if you want to build a Boys and Girls Club in your community and put it online with all these tools and calculators to help you understand what it would take and how much it would cost. Literally in one month 30 people did this online and estimated that saved them 120 people-hours which, when youre a small organization with not a lot of money, really makes a big difference.
Q: I see a lot of the sites are using Flash, such as Sprite Remix (www.spriteremix.com). Did you notice that is a trend that is significant?
Tiffany: Its interesting that you pointed that out, especially for the sites that are marketing like Sprite and MiniUSA. They use flash to make it flashier! But on the other categories youll find they shy away from flash. Theyre very functional, instead. A lot are very task-oriented and going after a specific function right on the front page.
If your goal is to get somebody to make a transaction, you may want to stay out of their way. If you want to reach them on an emotional level, you may want to make its flashier.
Q: I imagine having a Business Webby is quite a feather in the Website owners hat. How many businesses submitted applications to be considered for a Business Webby?
Maya: We got hundreds of applications and we were just in awe at the quality of the applicants.
Q: Lets talk about the regular Webby Awards How did the new presentation format of not having a physical presentation event but doing it all on the Web work for you?
Tiffany: The new format just blew was away. We created a Webby Awards in a download kit so people could throw their own Webby party whereever they were around the world. Our nominees come from all over the world, so we had an overwhelming amount of people creating their own event. The decentralized Webby Awards is something we will definitely continue.
Maya:There were 190 parties with an estimated 17,000 guests from all over the world parties in New Zealand and Paris and Brooklyn and San Francisco and Ohio. It just became kind of what the Web is, which isnt in one place. The Web is all over the place.
Q: Youre going to have the reception for the Business Awards in San Francisco on December 9th?
Tiffany: Its going to be a really wonderful, interactive experience because its the Web! The winners and judges and luminaries in the industry are going to be there and we are going to pick subjects to discuss and pull the best ideas and put them in a White Paper about business online.
While entries are not currently being accepted for the second annual Webby Business Awards, entries for the eighth annual Webby Awards are being accepted. For more information, please visit: www.webbyawards.com/main/submit/index.html.
The final deadline for submissions is Dec. 19.
The full audio interview is available at WebTalkRadio.com.
Dana Greenlee is co-host/producer of the WebTalkGuys Radio Show, a Tacoma-based radio and Webcast show featuring technology news and interviews. This Saturdays show discusses the economic of content with Rafat Ali, editor/publisher of PaidContent.org, and Gabe Knapp, product manager for Microsofts Digital Media Division. WebTalk Radio is heard at 11 a.m. Saturday on KLAY-AM (1180) and 10 p.m. Tuesday on KVTI-FM (90.9).