Masthead Blogs
Thursday, June 01, 2023
Gadget Blog
Martin Seto
The COPA’s are now in its 15th year and will continue to move to support digital content creators across Canada and this year we will create categories for the growing influencer community in Canada that exists on Tik Tok, Instagram, Facebook and You Tube. These influencers reach the Gen Z segment of the market (A 18-32) that grew up with a smartphone. Once I take out me personal generational bias it opened my eyes on this market after talking with few Gen Z’s.

The holy grail of marketing is to create a personal one-on-one relationship with your customer on scale and “Influencer Marketing’ achieves this. We know influencer marketing works or does not work based on the recent experience of Budweiser using an influencer that had 11 million followers that the core market rebelled against resulting in a sales drop through a product boycott. 

The ecosystem of influencers in Canada has a low of 10,000 followers and up 1.2 million based on published reports by talent agency vendors who provide access to the influencers through their networks. The more notable name on this list is pro hockey player /celebrity Mitch Marner with 500K followers. On the other side of the coin are the digital agencies that manage the influencer campaign with all the ad tech tools for tracking and reporting. This new ecosystem is estimated to be a $20 billion market worldwide that is provided for free from all the major social media providers Twitter, Tok Tok, YourTube, Facebook and Instagram. 

The content of the influencers is sliced along like magazines based on niche topics like fashion, beauty, health, sports, and wellness, but is personal and not branded like in magazine or newspaper. I can call an influencer a micro magazine but instead of words they use video and pictures. If a Gen Z were to ask to read an article or watch a video they will watch a video. This where my personal generational bias is a factor as I am the opposite, this was confirmed when I was planning an Instargram account to reach this community in the COPA’s search for Canada’s Best Influencer on social media. Today’s journalists need to create stories with pictures and video a not words to reach this market as they live on social media.

This is the new digital media and its has been dubbed the “Creator Economy” that had different names in the past like bloggers, vloggers, but today’s influencers have scale. Look if a magazine has a subscription base of 500K that would be amazing, but a personal brand like Mitch Marner, pro hockey player/celebrity has 500K too. If you want to make a personal connection to your brand this is a good way to go for today’s Gen Z.

When the brand is  a good fit with an influencer and they have a good reach these mini-magazines are now part of today's digital media buy for some consumer brands. The revenue potential is based on reach, but the industry rates for influencers are modest at $100-$250 per post, but it can add up quick you work with 20+ influencers. But Gen Z’s are smart and they don’t believe everything they hear or read. During my research I discovered the TOP 100 beauty Influencers were displayed on the World of Beauty Italy website

Social media is at a pivotable point in its growth. One one hand you a a free digital communications system via text, photo and video that is available for free that is used by millions of people around the world. According to some of the industry marketing hype provided in The State of Influencer Marketing benchmark report by Influencer Marketing Hub states, the Influencer Marketing Industry is estimated at $21.1 Billion in 2023. The Key social media tools used by brands are Tok Tok (56%), Instagram (51%), Facebook (42%) and YouTube (38%).

Twitter’s move to clean up social media from all the bad actors has been a good one. We all know all about fake people on the internet and their paid model is a good step. If I am advertiser in one of the many influencers networks I want to have the confidence that my ad/content does not go into an ad farm with fake clicks and people. The paid model is a good way to have people authenticated that they are real people. Considering that a $20 billion industry has been created using free tools, people will be willing to pay the fee if they make money on it, so it will work, but not all. Instagram is also following suit.

As a publisher though I have been reluctant to accept content from the Digital agencies. Here is a pitch from an agency I recently received for $500.

1) The published article must get indexed and It should not be backdated.
2) Links should be Do follow- 1 Client link,1 Internal link, and 2 High authority links.
3) The post must be on the homepage for some time and it should be accessible from the homepage (via a relevant category).
4) The Article and links should not be marked as a sponsored post, paid post, guest post, etc. Also, there should not be any kind of disclaimer like: “This post may contain affiliate links’’ in the article.
5) The post and links should remain permanently archived on your website.

They ask for a lot for $500, but the kicker is the lack of transparency of the post and to most publishers this is too big of a risk. This is why for many years I have always been skeptical on this type of approach and as you can see there is a lot of stealth articles being posted on the web as authentic.

Trust is key to the relationship between the influencer and the consumer and the Ad Standards of Canada introduced guidelines to help ensure that influencer content is not deceptive. It requires that the representations disclose any material connection between the influencer and the entity behind the brand, product or service being promoted. The guidelines further requires this disclosure to be clear, prominent, and in close proximity to the representation being made.

With the advent of AI generated content, let’s see if any virtual influencer shows up creating content for this digital ecosystem. But at any rate it is here to stay and we are now beginning the search for Canada’s Best Influencer as part of the 2023 COPA’s.
Thursday, April 20, 2023
Gadget Blog
Martin Seto
Cutting the chord is no longer a trend as internet streaming is now mainstream for people to watch movies and tv. The market is now cluttered with many choices with major studios in the USA entering the market. The category was created by Netflix, that started as a video/DVD rental mail order company in 1997. In 2007 Netflix introduced streaming video on demand in the USA and it was launched in Canada in 2010

As of January 2023, Netflix had over 230 million subscribers worldwide, including 74.3 million in the United States and Canada; 76.7 million in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, 41.7 million in Latin America and 38 million in the Asia-Pacific region. It is now the second largest media/entertainment company globally and its arrogance in how they treat their customers driven by their blind ambition to meet Wall Street expectations will be their downfall. 

The latest business decision by Netflix, using a business practice seen in the cable industry, to create new revenue streams is based on the location of the user, not the number of users that needs to be called out. If you were a current subscriber like me who had 4 user agreement and then be asked to pay extra if they are in different locations breaks new ground for tech/media companies to maximize revenue.


They want to more than double my rate in a big cash grab from $20/mo (that started at $13) to $44!!! This has only been done in Canada and not in the USA. Canadians are the guinea pig for this as we tend to take a “meh” attitude toward things like this, except in Quebec. Their dis-information campaign that Canadians are a bunch of digital theft artists is just camouflage, just like greenwashing that is everywhere today by oil companies.

According to a post on the Daily Hive, Netflix’s statement on the new measures, password sharing is inhibiting its ability to make money.

“Today, over 100 million households are sharing accounts — impacting our ability to invest in great new TV and films,”  Chengyi Long, director of product innovation at Netflix. 

But the platform reported a whopping US$7.8 billion in revenue in the third quarter of 2022. That’s nearly CA$10.5 billion.

The blowback to Netflix’s decision in Canada seems like a boon to the domestic streaming companies as I have switched to Crave, ya I am making a plug for Ma Bell. It seems I am not the only one, in an online March 2023 poll by -  46% of respondents said that they have switched to a new service provider (Sampe Size 7,267). 


After a month on Crave, there is no going back to Netflix. I can still have a 4 user agreement (but not based on location) plus the collection is better as there are more current titles plus HBO is included. The Netflix collection in Canada is not the same as in the USA (more current shows to choose from) and Crave has some of the Canadian rights like all the latest Star Trek Collection that is not on Neflix Canada. Telus not to be outdone offers a bundle package that includes Netflix, Apple TV and Discovery. Depending on your budget there are free options in Canada too.

The CBC GEM (ad supported model) has a good collection of Canadian talent and has created some major hits like Murdoch Mysteries and Heartland. is a new free streaming service with popular re-runs like Walker, Texas Ranger, Happy Days and Love Boat. Asian Crush is another site for Asian titles that offers old spaghetti martial movies as part of their collection. There are also many free torrent sharing websites for the latest movies, tv shows and live sports that you can find on Reddit that are shared amongst their users as part of the digital gray market. I got to watch the Latest Top Gun movie this way.

USA based Global digital companies like Google, Facebook, Amazon and Netflix dominate the digital ecosystems and have been able to do business without collecting sales taxes that gives them a competitive advantage with domestic players in Canada large and small. (Remember we are 10% the size of the USA, as we are just another 10 states in the North American Economic landscape). The dominance of USA based companies in Canada in the digital arena is not sustainable for a vibrant local industry, Netflix is just the latest global company to treat their customers like a profit widget that they can gorge on at will. 

How do we level the playing field for Canadian content producers in Canada? This will never happen, we are too small of a country, but we need the state to take assertive action like tariffs on foreign digital ad companies who are ad dumping at $2CPM in the Canadian market that is unprofitable for Canadian content producers to compete. The programmatic ad market drives the CPM under $2 and USA titles dominate this market also as they have the scale to be profitable. The big banks in Canada advertise here and that money should be going to Canadian publishers. 

Canadian publishers do need protection just like the history of television, that prevented USA border stations from getting any Canadian advertising as it was not tax deductible. If you purchased an ad on one of these stations you could not write it off. If we did this now this will discourage companies from advertising and move that money to Canadian publishers. The days of free access to the Canadian market is over. At the end of the day, we need to create digital borders so we can protect the local industry. 

I have called out Google and Facebook in a May 2018 blog posting of the questionable business practices of big business.  The Rise and Fall of the Digital Titans - Will history repeat itself again? The next chapter is to unfold with the latest legislation on digital rights of Canadian publishers. 

Friday, March 24, 2023
COPA Judges Blog
Guest Blogger

In the world of digital marketing, search engine optimization (SEO) is an essential tool for businesses to attract and retain customers. SEO is a set of techniques that are used to improve the visibility of a website in search engine results pages (SERPs). While there are many factors that contribute to a successful SEO strategy, one of the most important, in my opinion, is content.

Content is the backbone of any successful SEO strategy. It is what search engines use to determine the relevance and usefulness of a website to users. The more relevant and useful your content is, the higher your website will rank in SERPs. This is why it is essential for businesses to create high-quality, informative, and engaging content that aligns with their target audience's needs and interests.

One of the most significant benefits of creating high-quality content is that it attracts and retains website visitors. People are always searching for information online, and if your website has the answers they are looking for, they are more likely to stay on your site longer and return in the future. This increased engagement can lead to more conversions, which ultimately results in more revenue for your business.

Moreover, search engines like Google prioritize high-quality content when determining search rankings. These search engines use sophisticated algorithms that evaluate websites based on a wide range of factors, including the quality and relevance of their content. By creating high-quality content that is optimized for search engines, you can improve your website's visibility and attract more organic traffic.
In addition to attracting organic traffic, high-quality content can also help businesses establish themselves as thought-leaders in their industry. In turn, this can have additional positive impacts in being involved in mainstream media such as tv, radio, podcast and print.

While I still believe Link Building to be an important part of the process, I also find it having several challenges that most businesses are not prepared to accept.

First, the definition of a link has changed over the years. Back when I got started in digital marketing in the early 2000's it was ok to keyword stuff words on your site, to do link exchanges with other sites and to "acquire" links that offered little to no benefit to the site.

Secondly, most primary keywords in most industries have been solidified by sites that have been at SEO a long time, government sites, educational sites and even directory sites. The opportunities are slim and require a lot of time to hopefully make it to page 1. Any link building strategy will take a long time, will be costly and will not come with any guarantee you'll reach your goal.

This is where the alternative of focusing on content can be a fruitful opportunity to focus on. Since Google is ranking the content of a page rather than a specific keyword we now have the ability to create detailed content that can focus on secondary, tertiary and related keywords to that "core" keyword we (probably) won't rank for. Meaning we can drive meaningful and quality traffic based on several keywords rather than one that may not even work out if the content doesn't align!

Now go a step further and take that content you've created and divvy it up into several social pieces of content. Not only are you building shareable content for social media, we also know that there are social cues when it comes to rankings.

In my opinion content will be the key factor moving forward when improving the SEO of your site and overall business.

About the Author: Patrick Herman is President of pH Dgital Marketing that offers paid ads, SEO and Social media services.  
Friday, March 24, 2023
COPA Judges Blog
Guest Blogger

For 25 yearsI worked as a print magazine editor specializing in association and regulator publications. For the last eight of those years, I was the managing editor of a regulator’s magazine that was mailed to 250,000 members.

When the pandemic hit in March 2020, we lost 30 percent of our advertisers that month as the world began to shut down. In November 2021, the magazine stopped publishing entirely and I found myself unemployed, along with two of my colleagues. The decision to shut down the magazine was not unexpected. The decline of print media had only accelerated during Covid-19, and our publication was no exception. 

I saw this as an opportunity to recalibrate, to try something different, something new. A friend had just launched a digital real estate platform called Wahi. The company was in its early stages and he was embarking on a large content project as part of a long-term Search Engine Optimization (SEO) strategy. He needed someone to manage the content and to come armed with a plan. 

I wanted to try something different, but I wasn’t sure I was the right person for the role. My first thought was, I know very little about real estate and even less about technology. Next, I thought, I know nothing about SEO, let alone online content. Print was all I knew -— or, at least, so I thought. I had a bad case of imposter syndrome. 

As I pondered the opportunity before me, I recalled the words of marketing guru Seth Godin: “If it scares you, it might be a good thing to try.” At the time, I had failed to recognize how transferable the skills I had honed as a print magazine editor were to the digital world. Nine months later, I am amazed at how much I have learned from working with a diverse team of product leads, data scientists, software developers, SEO and digital marketing experts.

For anyone in publishing looking to make the leap from print to digital, here are some tips (based on my experience) for a successful transition: 

Seven Tips for a Successful Transition from Print to Digital Content.

Create a content plan. It’s essentially no different than an annual editorial calendar for a magazine. Whether it is print or digital, content is still king. 

If you don’t have SEO expertise, partner with an SEO expert to help optimize your website for greater search visibility. SEO is a marketing strategy that will help people find your website and increase brand awareness. A combination of strategies including publishing high-quality content (and lots of it -— see #3) and building backlinks from high-ranking websites will help boost your Google ranking. 

Get used to More is More (at least in the beginning). I used to think that writing for the web was all about short form. Well, in the world of SEO it can be the exact opposite — especially when you are a new domain and want to drive organic traffic to your website. Often it’s pages with longer form articles (think 1,500 - 5,000) that rank better on Google, which can help increase organic search visibility when keyword searches are conducted for that topic. So, be prepared for VOLUME.

Consider a multi-platform approach. People today digest content through many different platforms, so you need to meet them where they are. Consider social media, video, and other channels to broaden your reach. 

Invest in the right tools. Find a content management system that is flexible and allows you to do all the things you need it to do — publish content to multiple platforms, schedule content, track audience engagement and more. 

Measure it. There’s a classic adage used in business, “If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.” This rings true for your digital content big time. Metrics are your best buds and can help paint a picture of how well your content is performing and what’s resonating — or not —  with your audience. 

Manage your expectations — particularly if the website is new. SEO is a long-term strategy that can build brand awareness and establish that brand as an authority on a particular topic. But it doesn’t happen overnight; it can take months to reach the top of page one for certain keywords. For several months now, Wahi has been continuously publishing over 50,000 words (approximately 25 articles) per month through our SEO-optimized Real Estate 101 articles, which provide homebuyers and sellers with valuable real estate advice.

We are now starting to see our efforts pay off. Traffic from organic searches is growing, the number of pages we are ranking for on Google is up, as are impressions and clicks. We still have a long way to go, but building a brand takes time and, more importantly, a diverse team that believes in the product and understands the goals. 

About the Author: Kristin Doucet is the former managing editor of Professionally Speaking magazine and is currently the director of content at Wahi, a real estate website for buyers and sellers. 
Tuesday, January 03, 2023
COPA Judges Blog
Guest Blogger
Content is everywhere, and content is king, they say. But what exactly makes a piece of content good or bad? How do you create content to suit a brand's needs? You see, the word content is pretty generic and applies to various mediums, whether it is print, video, or podcast form. 

Content is king by itself is a bit misleading because by adding a simple adjective could modify the meaning greatly;(good) content is king,or  (bad) content is king. It suddenly changes the meaning which is the issue with buzzwords.

Content can be found everywhere you turn, and in this digital age, even bad content finds an audience. But what is very important is tailored content, where the content really connects with the audience it is meant for and will be meaningful and valuable to them, not just a generic fluff piece.

Now apply this principle to branded content, and it becomes even more true. If the content is not suited perfectly to the audience, people will disconnect from the content, the brand, and the publisher. 

On YouTube, for example, too many times we see a generic VPN or mattress-in-a-box company pay for “branded content” but it is always nothing more than a glorified advert. Understandably, the wheel of the industry has to turn, we all have salaries, overhead and incidental to be paid, and some of these brands have limited budgets, so they have to find ways to keep up.

The recipe is fairly simple; combining the value proposition of the brand with what the publication offers. When the offering of the publication and the interest of the audience is combined, true integrated branded content is achieved. You need a strong and extensive understanding of the publication and the brand to get home runs. This is where it pays off to have creative people in your team, as engaging in brainstorming to generate these ideas will help you eventually get the winning idea.

There are a few basic questions that one must ask when coming up with content ideas for a brand. 

1. What does the brand offer?
Why are we here? What is our purpose? Does it resonate with our audience(s)? These are basic questions you need to ask to come up with great content ideas.

There is an old saying in advertising that says “You can’t sell a bad product”. This is the same here because sometimes the client or brand may not be the right fit and other solutions may be best. But on the flip side, if the offer is strong and there’s alignment, then it can lead to strong creative content ideas that can boost the brand image.

2. What is their goal? 
There’s always a motive that makes a company spend dollars on marketing. Do they want to increase app downloads? Do they need to raise their awareness of the product? Drive sales? Etc. Knowing this will help you narrow down your options and figure out what can or can’t be done, how it may be done, and so on. 
3. What is their brand tone?
Are they a fun brand or a more serious brand like pharmaceuticals? The kind of tone the brand adopts has a major effect on the type of branded content that would be created. This would help you pair various content ideas with the right team or the right product (show, site, paper…). This way you make sure that each one fits and would work perfectly for the brand. 

4. The most important of all… what is unique to the publisher? 
This is what is often forgotten, and most of the time it is because of a lack of time, creativity, or knowledge. It takes a bit of effort to sit down and ask the right questions to come up with the right idea. What makes this creative idea OURS, and what makes it so special, that nobody else can offer that? 

This is why it’s the most important because this is the creative team or publishers’ edge over everyone else. What connects the brand to your content? It could be as simple as a specific talent unique to that niche, or the ability to ignite an audience behavior that is unique to one provider.

When you answer all of these questions, you come up with a winning idea that would make your content stand out and make for an amazing branded content piece. Ultimately, throughout the years and in my experience from trying out various branded content methods, I realized as long as the content is good, the audience will not care if it is branded or not. Once they get value out of it, that's all what matters to them.

About the Author: Jean-Francois Berube
Quebec native Jean-Francois is an energetic and creative integrated media professional and experienced producer. Over the years, JF has cultivated creative branded entertainment innovations, with the CBC and Postmedia, and now with Valnet. His creative experience includes production and film content across both the U.S. and Canada with clients such as Ford, Lincoln, Budweiser, Mini, RBC Avion, Bioré, Honda, and many more brands.