LONDON/WASHINGTON: The inaugural Admap Prize has been won by Nick Hirst of Dare, the London-based agency, for his paper arguing that "experience architecture" will shape the future of planning in brand communications.

Hirst was awarded the Admap Prize Gold Award by a panel of senior industry figures who judged 60  entries submitted by planners at all levels of the discipline from around the world.

Entrants were required to address the future of the planning function by submitting a written paper on "Planning 3.0: The Planning Landscape in 2020".

To mark the award, and the publication of a special Prize issue of Admap magazine, the Gold, Silver and Bronze Award-winning papers will be available to access free here for the next seven days only. Warc subscribers can read all 15 shortlisted papers from today.

In his Gold Award-winning essay, entitled "Why experience architecture is the future of planning", Hirst divides current planning activities into the "conceptual" work, often done by creative agencies, of providing ideas and insights and the more measurable, "practical" implementations developed by media agencies.

He argues that planners need to transcend this division and become "architects" of the user experience, creating communications that perfectly fit the channel in which they are received, at the right time and in the right mood.

He concludes that to extract the maximum benefits from this approach, planners need to extend this "experience architecture" into areas such as customer service, retail, and even pricing.

The Silver Award went to Tom Woodnutt, an independent consultant. In his essay, "Planning 3.0: The feeling is mutual", Woodnutt states the future of the discipline lies in creating mutually beneficial partnerships between brands and consumers.

According to Woodnutt, the existence of such partnerships would encourage greater openness and trust between brands and consumers. This context could allow consumers to permit brands greater freedom to mine their data and use it to engage with them via highly targeted and appealing communications.

Philippa Dunjay, a business executive at London-based agency Albion, took the Bronze Award. In her essay, "Culture will eat itself: the importance of microcultures in a data-driven world", Dunjay predicts that planning will move from insight mining to culture creating.

Dunjay's paper argues that one of planners' key future roles will be to identify microcultures consisting of communities bonded together by shared, niche interests, and then create touchpoints that connect these communities to a brand.

Guy Murphy, a Prize judge and the worldwide planning director at JWT, said one of the themes emerging from the 2012 Prize entries was that planning was entering an era of post-specialism, and seeking a much more strategic role.

"Specialism has been characterised by planning's role in facilitating execution in communication. In future, planning will be expected to create much more fundamental foundations for how brands are built," he added.

As further evidence of the imporance of this theme among planners, several Prize etntrants argued that in order to make a real difference in brand strategy and develop fully formed communications solutions, planning needed to move out of agency structures altogether and be seen as a consulting function in its own right.

Data sourced from Warc