Video Contest Judging Criteria: 3 Popular Things to Look For

December 10, 2021

Ivan Maya

Ivan is an award winning videographer with over 7 years of experience. He understands the power of video content is and always looking to help others leverage it's potential.

Contests are promotional events where both a consumer(s) and brands win. It’s a great way for organizers to promote their brand and a good opportunity for creators to get new deals and sponsors. Contests help brands, judges, and participants build their influence. If properly promoted, contests can attract many viewers, sponsors, and other stakeholders. However, to ensure a successful contest, creating video contest judging material is essential.

Like all other events of this kind, video contests are usually held by companies or entrepreneurs. They would provide participants with a specific topic and set of video competition guidelines, which they will use to create content. The contestants don’t necessarily have to create a video about the brand, but it is important to develop a theme appealing to viewers.

When creating video contest judging material, all participants and viewers should understand the rules and criteria of the competition. This article will consider the three most popular video contest judging criteria determining the quality of content.

Commercial Appeal

Every piece of content needs to be judged, first and foremost, based on its commercial appeal. Although we cannot neglect videos with artistic or cultural value, if you wish to go mainstream, you need to provide content that will attract as many people as possible (viewers, contestants, or sponsors).

Sometimes, going with a wacky (but on-brand) theme can be better than a meaningful video topic. Then again, it all depends on the music and the contest’s purpose. Among others, here are some of the things participants can focus on:


A good video should differentiate itself from anything else we’ve seen.


No matter how well done a video is, it needs to evoke emotions in judges and viewers.

Subject matter

Current topics tend to attract much more attention.


Sound, imagery, costumes, scenery, graphic solutions set the video apart.

Telling a story

The contestant needs to create story-driven content that will slowly immerse the viewer into this new world.

Judging commercial appeal during a competition can be difficult. If you’re broadcasting the event live, you can always post the video on YouTube and see how many views and comments it gets in the following days.

Video experts, producers, and filmmakers have a general idea of what’s more likely to become a commercial success. Such video contest judging material is usually pushed during the competition, thus promoting the competition and the organizers (your brand, that is).

If a video achieves commercial success, it will also increase the awareness of the competition. If you have the right to the content, you can associate it with your brand and contest. This is a common practice where organizers use the event logo, thumbnail, and other promotional material when posting the video online.

Many video contests are created so that a brand can use this material later on for their commercial campaigns. Mass appeal is especially important in such cases, as this will be the focal point of your marketing in the upcoming months and possibly, in the following years.

Meeting Technical Requirements

Technical requirements are a crucial component of any video contest because they level the playing field for all participants. Video contest judging material needs to have a specific form. That way, a piece of content cannot have an unfair advantage for using a different technology. Furthermore, this will make it much easier for the judges to go through all the videos.

The term “technical requirements” can pertain to numerous things:


Performance usually refers to how the actors behave in the video and whether they look natural enough. The person needs to be relatable and transfer their emotions to the viewers.


Production pertains to various aspects of the video, including how well it is edited, whether the transitions are smooth, and how everything looks when meshed together. A video needs to feel like a full entity, not a combination of parts.


Even if participants use plain clothes from a closet, they need to look presentable. Furthermore, the actor should look like they belong in that world/story. The organizer might give several pointers about how a person should look in the video and what would be considered acceptable.


The event organizers might have certain requirements regarding the setting. For example, they might wish to tell a specific story with a contest. In that sense, you might have to create an environment and background to reflect this.


In terms of technical requirements, there might be specific instructions on how focused and sharp the footage is. All the movements should be visible so that the viewers can tell what’s going on in the video.


Most events have video contest rules regarding the format and size. Submitted videos need to be presented in a specific resolution and video format. Again, the focus is on having the same content across the board.


In some cases, organizers might have natural or manufactured light requirements. You might not be able to experiment too much, and you should exploit lighting features to improve the visual appearance of the finished product. Furthermore, the light should be good enough so that the imagery is clean, visible, and focused.


Like the visuals, audio solutions need to be according to the theme. A viewer should understand dialogues without having to struggle. Furthermore, the music should reflect the setting, and instead of being obstructive, it needs to add value to the content. Like everything else within the video, you will need permission to use any copyrighted audio.

Adhering to all these rules is important for providing equal winning opportunities and uniformity and is also important for creating a video according to the organizer’s needs. This content might be used later on for marketing campaigns and other purposes. So, there is no point judging something that will not suit the organizer’s needs.

Alternatively, the company might wish to create a setting that would reflect real people and situations. They might want to pay homage to recent events. Whatever the case, they ultimately provide instructions to attract as many viewers as possible. 

Artistic Value

When a brand creates a video contest, art should be an integral part of the equation. Unless it’s a cultural organization, most commercial entities will profit more by focusing on themes that are currently relevant or entertaining. Often, artistic liberties are limited by imposing a list of restrictive requirements.

But that doesn’t mean that creating artsy content is always negative. A participant might unify commercial and artistic content in one piece of content. A unique idea will certainly garner more attention, but you need to create it according to the contest’s rules.

According to experts, there are a few ways to measure the value of an art piece:


Beauty is subjective, but you can outline criteria for judging beauty differently. The best way to explain the concept is by evaluating various aspects of a piece, including colors, textures, composition, flow, etc. We need to consider actor performance, costumes, scenery, effects, and how these elements come together in terms of videos.


Over time, different techniques were used in cinematography and amateur videos. When evaluating the method, we measure it and how it was used to deliver a story.


The most impactful videos usually have the deepest, profound meaning. We can use them for social critique, avert attention to an issue, or tell an engaging story.


If your video is not unique, it is hard to classify it as a piece of art or an achievement. This aspect is especially important during video contests, as you need to create something that will garner enough attention both for you and the company creating the event.

Although videos that enter these contests are rarely seen as art, many of them are unique. In fact, some of the best short movies came from video contests. Eventually, some of them were shown in cinemas worldwide, while others achieved major success on YouTube and other platforms.

In the end, the viewers can judge for themselves whether a piece of content can be regarded as art.

Successful Judging

Setting criteria early on helps ensure all judges are impartial and on the same page. A scoring sheet that reflects your judging standards will make it easier to hone in on contest winners. You need to explain why your video contest winner outdid other participants; when you know what to look for and how to score based on the criteria you’ve set in advance, explaining your decision becomes much easier. It helps to look at other video contests to see how different companies execute their competitions. 

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