The Webby Awards, which kicks off its annual call for entries today for the “most coveted honor in online media,” has expanded its competition this year to include real estate services companies, agencies and brokers.

Real estate Web sites from around the world can get in the running for a Ninth Annual Webby Awards nomination by entering at www.Webbyawards.com.

“Over the years, we kept hearing from real estate businesses who wanted the chance to compete in The Webby Awards,” said Tiffany Shlain, founder and creative director of the Webby Awards. “Since the Web is now so integrated into business and everyday life, our new categories paint a more complete picture of life online today.”

According to Shlain, sites can now be submitted in 65 categories. The 35 new additions include industry specific categories like Real Estate, Automotive, Beauty & Cosmetics, Employment, Retail, Insurance and Investor Relations, as well as consumer interest categories like Blog, Celebrity/Fan Site and Social Networking.

The Webby Awards also announced the debut of five awards that all Web sites can enter; Best Home Page, Best Navigation/Structure, Best Use of Sound, Best Use of Animation and Best Copy.

Nominees will be announced in April 2005 and winners will be unveiled in May 2005. Winners will be honored at a VIP celebration in late spring of 2005. The Webby Awards will also continue its tradition of encouraging local celebrations of nominees and winners around the world via the Web.

Web sites that enter before the early bird deadline of Oct. 29 will receive a discount on the entry fee. The final deadline for all entries is Dec. 17, 2004.

Founded in 1996, The Webby Awards is the self-proclaimed leading international honors for Web sites. The International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences, a 535-member judging organization consisting of leading experts in a diverse range of fields, will present the competition.

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