Lee Odden

Ten Search Marketing Awards You Should Know

trophy“A person will work for a living, but they’ll die for recognition.”  I’m not sure who I heard that from first, but it’s just as true for agencies and companies as it is for individuals.  One common way to recognize excellence is through awards. There are awards for just about every industry from software to design to public relations. What about search marketing?

Awards are like lists. They’re valuable in part, because they include, but mostly exclude. The motivation for organizations to run award programs varies greatly from being a source of revenue from entry and sponsorship fees to seeking to advance the industry by recognizing it’s finest to something in between. Many SEM awards focus on paid search and attract large agencies in that space. Others offer a variety of categories.

Here are 10 awards opportunities for in-house and agency professionals in the Search Engine Marketing industry.

DMA International ECHO Awards
DMA International ECHO Awards
> Search Marketing Category
The Search Marketing Award recognizes the most creative and strategic use of Internet search technology to achieve a direct marketing objective. Includes Search engine optimization (SEO) and pay-per-click (PPC) advertising.

  • Entry fee: $225 to $350 depending on date of entry
  • Note: (Disclosure: TopRank has been a judge for several years)
  • Next call for entries: Approximately April 2010

OMMA Awards
OMMA Awards
> Online Advertising Creativity Category > Search Marketing
OMMA Awards recognize the year’s best ads, promotions, campaigns and websites in online media, marketing and advertising with 28 award categories for Online Advertising Creativity, one of which is Search Marketing.

  • Entry fee: $195 per single ad/execution entry and $325 per campaign or website entry
  • Note: Award site is in Flash, no dedicated page for SEM you can point to.
  • Next call for entries: Approximately August 2010

MIXX Awards
> Search Marketing Category
As part of Advertising Week, the MIXX Awards stats that it is the only international interactive awards competition judged by an all-star panel representing the entire interactive advertising ecosystem—brand marketers with direct control over many of the largest advertising budgets in the country, major media company executives and advertising agency experts who create campaigns for the world’s most powerful brands.

  • Entry fee: $295 per campaign and includes entry into one category; the entry fee is $150 for each additional category.
  • Note: There are two phases, screening and finals.
  • Next call for entries: Approximately July 2010

ad:tech Awards
ad:tech Awards
> Search Marketing Category
For more than a decade, the ad:tech awards program has recognized talented visual and technology designers who demonstrate excellence in interactive marketing with submissions in the following categories: Interactive Ads, Interactive Campaigns, Optimization/Search Strategy and Web Sites.

  • Entry fee: $255.00/category for each ad or campaign
  • Note: Award site is in Flash, no dedicated page for SEM you can point to.
  • Next call for entries: Approximately January 2010

PROMO Interactive Marketing Awards
PROMO Interactive Marketing Awards
> Search Marketing Category
The program honors the best and brightest in effective interactive marketing—and recognizes the valuable role that interactive tactics play in motivating consumer response and creating strong, exciting brands.

  • Entry fee: $200 per entry
  • Note: For this magazine sponsored award program, you have to register to see the winners & register again to see the webinar announcing the winners.
  • Next call for entries: January 1, 2010

Econsultancy Innovation Awards
Econsultancy Innovation Awards
> PPC & SEO Categories
New in 2009, the Innovation Awards are a natural progression from our commitment to recognizing innovation in the industry, as demonstrated by our regularly updated Innovation Report and a chance to receive acclaim as an innovator, be recognized by your industry peers and stand out from the crowd.

  • Entry fee: $195
  • Note: While this is a new Awards program, Econsultancy has a community of 80,000 members worldwide.
  • Next call for entries: Deadline 23 October 2009

Search Engine Watch Awards
Search Engine Watch Awards
> Various Search Marketing Categories
The mission of the SEW Awards is to recognize excellence, as well as inspire innovation and encourage new ideas in search marketing. The SEW Awards honors 14 outstanding search marketers, search engines and technology providers.

  • Entry fee: $145 per entry
  • Note: (Disclosure: TopRank was a judge this year)
  • Next call for entries: Approximately July 2010

Yahoo Searchlight Awards
Yahoo! Searchlight Award
> Search Marketing
The Yahoo! Searchlight Award represents Yahoo!’s commitment to the best and most creative search advertising ideas and executions recognizing advertising agencies that develop search marketing applications outside of the tried and true direct response mindset.

  • Entry fee:  ?
  • Note: It doesn’t say a Yahoo Paid Search campaign is required, but probably a great idea to include in your submission.
  • Next call for entries: Early December 2009

ClickZ Marketing Excellence Awards
ClickZ Marketing Excellence Awards
> Search Ad Management
ClickZ Marketing Excellence Awards recognize the technologies, and companies that made a positive difference in the online marketing industry.

  • Entry fee: $49 per nomination
  • Note: These awards are not for campaigns, but rather the technologies that enable best of breed online marketing execution in the areas of paid search, analytics, email, mobile and social media.
  • Next call for entries: Approximately March to April 2010.

BMA Pro-Comm
Business Marketing Association Pro-Comm
> Search/Blog/Online Mindshare Campaign Category
Pro-Comm is ranked as one of the advertising industry’s premier award programs, drawing hundreds of entries annually from b-to-b marketing agencies and clients from all around the U.S.

  • Entry fee: $150 – $225 depending on early bird rate and member/non-member
  • Note: This award is specifically for BtoB marketing.
  • Next call for entries: Approximately March 2010

There are also various regional awards programs from marketing related associations such as the EIMA (Excellence in Interactive Marketing Awards) run by the Dallas Ft Worth Interactive Marketing Association plus other kinds of awards such as the SEMMYs (TopRank is a judge), which recognizes the top search marketing blog posts each year and the Marketing Pilgrim Search Engine Marketing Scholarship (TopRank is a judge), which is a contest to create and promote quality SEM content.

Promotion World and a few other similar sites promote top SEO/SEM awards, but judging isn’t done by a panel of industry verterans as with the other awards programs listed above and without 3rd party scrutiny or detailed judging information.

Have we missed any? What influential Search Marketing Awards should we add to this list? Do you have experience with any of the above awards programs? Good or bad, our readers would love to learn more.

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Lee Odden About Lee Odden

@LeeOdden is the CEO of TopRank Marketing and editor of Online Marketing Blog. Cited for his expertise by The Economist, Forbes and the Wall Street Journal, he's the author of the book Optimize and presents internationally on B2B marketing topics including content, search, social media and influencer marketing. When not at conferences, consulting, or working with his talented team, he's likely running, traveling or cooking up something new.


  1. Maybe I'm weird but having to pay an entry fee to “compete” for an award is pretty ridiculous and invalidates any true value of winning.

  2. There's a perception that remarkable SEM campaigns involve a certain level of budget and therefore the entry fees are part filter, part money maker or funding source for the awards. Right or wrong, it weeds out an incredible number of entries that would make the initial selection process impractical. The $49 to $350 is nothing to the big agencies the awards are marketed to.

    All that said, our agency does some amazing work and we haven't submitted to any of the awards we're eligible for (those we judge, we cannot enter) until 2010. It's the research of available SEM award programs that led to this post.

    Again, right or wrong, certain client companies find a lot of credibility in vendors who have won awards for their work. It's the nature of the agency business whether you're in advertising, public relations or search and social media marketing.

  3. I agree to the previous post that paying for a competition and to only get an award is ridiculous, unless the award is going to help you in your marketing efforts. Awards can give a business credibility and tie it to a specific demographic.

  4. I think that's the whole point ryandaim. Agencies participate in awards to get recognition of their agency, which helps build awareness and credibility to companies that appreciate that kind of thing.

    Many marketing departments within companies enter these awards to gain recognition for the Search Marketing portion of the overall marketing budget. Getting such exposure can be a powerful internal sales tool to gain more SEM budget and resources within a company. Of course, that assumes they win a credible award.

  5. Avatar andrewbeckman says

    Lee we submit Location3 Media to a number of awards you mentioned, and some of the ceremonies like the DMA do a nice job, and make the award have meaning and feel special. Although I give the go ahead to L3M's Marketing department to submit to most awards you mention I am starting to question which ones are perceived to be the ones that help agencies like myself win more business from. This is the main reason why I want us to submit these awards, as I am hoping it helps us make more money!

    which are your top award submissions by prestige?

  6. Avatar strategic_growth_advisors says

    This offers SEM enthusiasts and professionals a lot more inspiration and encouragement to continue with their efforts of the making the same as wonderful as can be. Thanks, Lee!

  7. Avatar Clemence Ko says

    I get what you are trying to say. Now I get the idea on why we have to pay in order to enter the awards. Thanks for sharing leeodden.

  8. Despite doing amazing work for amazing companies, we've never pursued awards at TopRank. Word of mouth has been so strong (we don't advertise) that we've never felt a need.

    A lot of the larger companies we've been talking to in the past year do appreciate vendors that showcase their accomplishments for clients via awards. As a result, it's something we'll start to look at for 2010.

    ECHO, OMMA, Ad:Tech, MIXX and SEW Awards are definitely worth checking in to for PPC agencies.

  9. Another great post here on your blog, there is so much information to help people succeed on here

  10. Great leads. I am doing to do my own research on these and use them for my next launch. Thank you

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  12. hm, this is really a great list. I am looking forward to participate. Just waiting for some free time and gonna hit

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