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Sunday, June 09, 2024
Gadget Blog
Martin Seto
This opening statement is to inspire the next generation of content creators in Canada as we have the will, resources and passion to be world class. The COPAs have become an essential tool in the Canadian digital landscape in this annual showase for our industry of who is the best.

We must continue to grow and adapt in an ever changing world with technology companies pushing the next wave on us even if we are not ready for it like AI. Before that it was virtual reality, chat bots, big data and the list goes on. Some stick and some don’t like 3D TV and wearable glasses. Have you ever used a Chatbot on a telco website? What a horrible experience so there are more misses than hits.

Personally, I had some creative growth in 2023 as my journey in the last year to become an actor that was part of my bucket list. So when somebody says it is over when you turn 60 they have been brainwashed by the “Freedom 55” ad campaign that has been embedded in today’’s mindset of success. ( BTW, I have hung around some retired guys and the most exciting thing they have to look forward to is the furnace man coming to the house, that's not me..LOL) You can still do great things in your 60's and 70’s. Here is a Keith Richards quote” You never stop growing until they put a shovel in the ground” as words to live by and if anybody was to die young it was Keith Richards.

Star Trek Strange New World is shot on CBS Sound stages in Toronto
This acting journey started with me wanting to get on Star Trek as background actor. It has shown me that we have some world class talent producing TV shows, movies and commercials.  I personally have shot scenes in Toronto that represent cities in the USA like Washington, New Jersey, Philadelphia, Minneapolis and even an alien planet in the numerous sound stages scattered across the city. I got to realize the dream of being a background actor on Star Trek in Strange New Worlds this May 2024. Toronto is a global production hub as I shot a movie (Covid Drama) and Fantasy TV show where I play a Crime Boss just for Asian audiences not just for Hollywood.

 The Stromedy Channel has over 10 million Subscribers

I even came across a YouTuber “Stromedy Channel” that had over 5 million million subscribers in July 2023 and now has over 10 million shooting from a home they purchased through YouTube ad revenue. I was in a clip that was seen 40K in 2 days as part of a
ghost skit and now has over 500K. This experience greatly influenced the decision to add influencers to the COPA’s. This YouTube Playhouse I call them are an amazing group of people.

The journey also landed me a spot in a Quaker Oats Ad called “100 Reason to Rise” that was part of a global campaign, but was shot in Toronto because of the multicultural demographics that can represent the world. The client is based in London, UK along with the ad agency, but production was done in Toronto. If you ever take a stroll to all the cultural communities in Toronto you can go to little Italy, Manila, Greektown, Sri Lankan, Indian, Pakistani, Chinese, Russian, Caribbean, Mexican, Farsi and the list goes on.

(This experience taught me that long shots do come in as this was an open casting call and I pitched them my social media personna I had created and adapted for the ad pitch“ Grandpa Rent a Goalie” fueled by Quaker Oats along with a quote for a Rocky movie that I still have fire in the belly. I was also casted in an Expedia Travel ad that is still running, but only my elbow ended up in the ad LOL  I have a reel now 
ClubMartySeto YouTube Channel)
Quaker - Rise Up Campaign

We at the COPA’s already knew about this culutural diversity and we have a catgeory for multi-cultutal stories and Orange Shirt Day on September 30 is the COPA entry deadline as a symbolic gesture like the call for Entries on July 1, Canada day. 

My creative growth did have some unexpected turns too. I did a 5 min corporate video for Abbott Labs for a diabetes empathy story (I had to do a sugar shock scene 10x, so acting is hard work LOL). But the most fun was a live performance in a Murder Mystery skit at a corporate event where I got killed by a fork in the green room. This ride has taught me a lot things like all the film schools in Canada that are now part of the outreach of the COPA’s in the academic category.

Canada is home to some great talent that this posting is pat on the back to you ALL. As the producer of the COPAs I see it every year, but this past year I was on the other side of the content equation as talent and got to see the directors, cameras, lights and action. We have all the raw ingredients in Canada to create world class content on all levels in Canada. Let's keep telling the world about it so the next generation can be inspired to do better!

The 2024 COPA Call for Entries is July 1, 2024

The Canadian Online Publishing Awards (COPAs) the largest digital publishing awards program for Canadian content creators call for entries is on July 1, Canada Day. The deadline for entries is September 30, 2024. The 2024 categories have been released in 4 divisions ( B2B , B2C, News, and Academic). The COPAs is now in its 16th year. Visit the 2024 Rules Page here . 

Call for Judges
The COPA call for judges is now open if you are interested in becoming a judge and be part of the Who's Who of digital publishing in Canada. Register Here.
Monday, March 11, 2024
Gadget Blog
Martin Seto
The winners of the 2023 COPA were announced on February 9th, 2024 and this year’s winner saw the rise of branded content as award winning quality.


The Academic division saw the emergence of a new school Red River College Polytechnic with a gold and 2 silver. RRC Polytechnic campuses in the National Homeland of the Red River Métis. UBC captured 1 gold a 3 silver was the other big winner. An entry from York’s film school won best Video.




In the B2B division saw York University capture 3 gold and 3 silver and was the big winner of the COPAs. University affairs won 3 gold and a silver. The Atlantic Association of CBDCs Ambitions Magazine won two silver that is part of the the rise in quality of branded content in this year’s winners.


 Deidre Kelly is presented a Gold for Best Digital Edition by Marty Seto


The consumer division had multiple winners across all categories, but the emergence of branded entries from the Mental Health Commission (2 silver), Metrolinx (Gold and Silver), Travelzoo (Gold and Silver), Samara Centre for Democracy (silver) and Hockey Canada (gold) win a COPA medal this year.


The News Media division that caters to local community websites across Canada saw Discourse Community Publishing that caters to First Nation communities in BC win 3 gold and 3 silver. New Winners included the Breach based in Montreal with and gold and silver and By that won gold.


The Top Ten scores if the This year COPAs has 13 entries (ties allowed) with the Top entry for York magazine for Best Digital Edition. This design has worn multiple COPAs. University Affairs came is second for the Best Multicultural Story and Fête Chinoise came in 3rd for the ir Best Feel Good Story.



Wednesday, January 10, 2024
Gadget Blog
Martin Seto
Unless you have been living off the grid, the global economy is still suffering the effects of the tight money supply through higher interest rates to combat the post pandemic echo of high inflation. The strategy seems to be working as inflation was 3% in Canada in November 2023. But we are still not out the woods yet as the first six months of the year will still be tight as inflation needs to be at 2% before there will be a change in interest rate policy and that is expected to happen in the second quarter.

Snap Shot of the Post Pandemic Echo
Zoom, the video conferencing tool the world has been living through since 2020, laid off 15% of its workforce, or about 1,300 people, on February 7. 2023. During the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic Zoom’s profit skyrocketed more than most tech companies, leading to massive hiring, but the company is now saying it overdid it.


According the Dentsu Global Ad Spend Forecasts (Dec. 2023) was a very turbulent year for media as we saw a contraction in global ad spending in automotive, finance, food, government/social, media and entertainment, pharmaceutical, retail, technology, telecommunications and travel industries, which was a  a reflection of what the economy was suffering through. Only two sectors saw a growth and they were beverages and cosmetics/personal care. The Dentsu ad forecast will see a rebound back in ad spending in 2024 with an increase of 5% worldwide.

The movement by Canadian Ad Agencies to buy Local 
The growing digital spend with USA based publishers have not gone unnoticed by governments and now ad agencies in Canada have an industry goal of a 25% digital ad spend for Canadian media through an effort called “ The Canadian Media Manifesto”. Publishers can learn more about about this here.


What can Canuck publishers do as they confront the "Walmart Effect" of  Canadia media going out of business caused by the digital giants. Well it is important to show relevance of your audience to today’s advertisers and reader research is always needed to keep in tune with the changing habits that seems to change every 6 months. Reaching Adults 18-34 today is totally different from a generation ago, as this market is the “ Cellphone Zombie Generation” and live on social and prefer video over text.

Its time to think outside your box to survive.
What is your digital delivery strategy to compete with SEO, programmatic and Influencers that have captured the attention of today’s advertisers. According to the Dentsu Dec. 2023 report you will also have to explore AI as 72% of their clients have AI on the marketing radar. There is no magic wand, It all comes time down to marketing basics target market fit, geographic location and timing ie: Right place, right time, right market. Build your plan in 2024 with sound marketing fundamentals, but you have to know your audience to compete.
Thursday, November 16, 2023
COPA Judges Blog
Guest Blogger
Now that the pandemic is mostly in the rear-view mirror, it’s easier to take a second look at what we sped past in the last couple of years. Without doubt, the pandemic created the biggest shift towards more automation, faster digital transformation, and exponential leaps in robotics and artificial intelligence. Estimates around investment in robotics and supply chain automation hovers around the $250 billion mark for just 2023. And the global adoption rate is set to increase to 70%+ by 2025.

So, when you have this level of automation, you can be sure that there will soon be a slew of people whose sole task will be to manage this ever-growing non-human workforce. Are you ready to manage a group of robot assistants? Not sure if you’re aware of this, but the pandemic-fueled isolation and digital transformation has led to the rise of robot-dependents – people who feel emotionally connected to chatbots or robots. I’m not kidding. This is a real thing. How quickly did robots transition from anxiety-inducing entities to familiar everyday support systems that bring a sense of calm and safety? 


When you think about it, autonomous robots range from innocuous chatbots to the Roomba to even aerial drones. There are more of them around than many of us can comprehend. They’re no longer the stuff of science fiction, but increasingly ubiquitous objects that deliver significant value. They no doubt improve the speed and accuracy of routine operations and add efficiency while working alongside humans.

They’re increasingly deployed in dangerous situations like nuclear plants or to track and diffuse land mines. Judging by the speed of things and how every organization is glued to scaling, it won’t be long before bots are life companions. Now imagine encouraging, criticizing, or mentoring bots. We’ll soon have to develop language, etiquette, and protocol around all this. Let’s begin by translating eye rolls. 

Now fast forward to the reality of contactless delivery and automated transportation, and suddenly we need to figure out how to reengineer our roads to accommodate for their increased presence around us, especially in cities. It’s only a matter of time before driverless cars and delivery robots will be jostling for road space alongside bikes and scooters. Are city planners thinking about this? Typical to technology, automated vehicles (AVs) will make some jobs redundant and create some new ones.

Today’s truck driver or Uber driver will have to transition to an AV specialist. Someone who manages automated vehicles and customer service in Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS) offerings. New roles will emerge like AV Service Mangers, AV Deployment Specialists, AV Technicians…. Can you see where this is going? The good thing is, AVs will also make mobility more equitable and accessible.

Think of seniors, people with disabilities, even children will have greater access to independent transportation. And let’s also consider the potential drop in road accidents – if things go as cited. Removing human error from road accidents can have a significant impact on everything from life to insurance costs. What about parking lots? Dare we hope that they’ll turn into green spaces within cities? Especially since AVs can drive themselves to their own pens. 

Among the most compelling lessons of the pandemic is the impact of artificial intelligence (AI). Estimates suggest that over 50% of companies accelerated their AI adoption plans because of the Covid crisis. And Big Tech has clearly doubled down on this in the last few years. From a marketing perspective, the hope is that AI is going to help us narrow in on the ‘why’ and not just the ‘what’ in terms of people’s behaviour.

Speculation, of course, is very high with large language models like Open AI’s Chat GPT. Even though Chat GPT can scan the entire internet in a matter of seconds, it cannot (yet) connect outlying dots to create a fresh perspective on a human insight.

So, I doubt very much that Copywriters are about to disappear. But the potential for AI to iterate and optimize copy in bulk digital ads, and add personalization, can be a real game changer. Ad tools like Meta’s Advantage+ lets AI choose audiences and creative assets, and Google’s Performance Max decides how to distribute the ad spend across its properties. So, if targeting and audiences are going to be taken care of by AI, what else will the age of automation bring?

Another quick glance into the rear-view mirror throws up one of the most talked about fallouts of the pandemic - information epidemic. Especially the dubious kind. No one seems to know if the information they’re consuming is indeed true or factual. Things got so bad the World Health Organization held its first ‘Infodemiology Conference’ in 2020.

Misinformation and disinformation are by no means restricted to scientific or health-related topics. Indeed, technology has helped to weaponize information. Disinformation thrives in societies where systemic inequality and deep-seated discrimination is rampant. When everyone is a content generator, it’s easy for bad actors to twist misinformation (someone who got facts wrong accidentally) to disinformation (creating false information).

In today’s environment where people are ready to jump to the nearest conclusion without much thought or debate, it undermines some basic principles we collectively accept and agree upon. It’s scary to think how easy it is to tear apart any society with disinformation, immaterial of where it is. Ultimately, trust will be the most valuable asset anyone, individual, or organization, can have. And if you haven’t guessed it yet, pro-truth influencers are a thing too. 

Which brings me back to the question - who then has the responsibility to ensure trustworthiness, inclusivity, and sustainability in our breakneck speed for technology triumphs? Thankfully some people across the pond are taking this a bit more seriously than the rest of us in North America. A European Commission initiative aims to reimagine, reshape, and re-engineer the internet and it’s called the Next Generation Internet (NGI). It funds innovative research to develop a safer, more transparent, and inclusive internet for all. Wishful thinking? I hope not.

Despite the handwringing, there’s no doubt that technology will move faster than people, or policy. So, where should the guardrails be? And who gets to decide that? And where’s the crystal ball that can see what’s in store? When we started playing hockey no one thought about the need for helmets. In fact, it took about a hundred years before helmets were mandated in hockey. How long do we wait before we get protection from the trauma of technology?

Abut The AuthorZach Abraham

Zach has spent over 25 years in the advertising and marketing industry in a leadership position. Prior to starting Us Communications, he was Associate Creative Director at Anderson DDB responsible for all the Digital and DTC work produced by the agency. Zach has won several awards for creative excellence including the London International Advertising Award, The New York Festival and RSVP among others.
Thursday, November 09, 2023
COPA Judges Blog
Guest Blogger

“Why’d you call me?”

Asking the question was my friend and one of my many journalistic mentors, Ernest Hillen. 

I’ll get to the answer to his question in a moment, but first, in case you don’t know, here’s how Wikipedia describes Ernest: 

 Ernest Hillen
“A longtime editor with Saturday Night, he became best known for two memoirs which he published in the 1990s about his childhood experiences during World War II. Hillen was born in the Netherlands in 1934 as the child of a Canadian mother and a Dutch father, and the family moved to West Java, Indonesia when he was a child. However, following the Japanese occupation of the Dutch East Indies in 1942, the family was confined to detention camps for several years.  After the war ended the family moved between Canada, the Netherlands and Indonesia for several years until the 1950s, when Hillen moved to Toronto.”

I met Ernest when I was new to the magazine industry; we worked on a publication called Influence then went separate directions but remained close. 

He’s in his 80s now and lives in Cambridge Ont., and Ernest is literally the reason my wife Helena and I keep a landline. True fact. Phone conversations with Ernest seldom clock in at less than an hour and who likes to talk on a cell that long?

Here’s why I’m telling you about Ernest. 

Last Monday afternoon, at about 2:00, I realized I had a few spare hours so figured it was time to start reading the entries in this year’s Canadian Online Publication Awards (COPAs). 

I’m a judge in two categories and feel privileged indeed. I get to immerse myself in a whole pile of some of Canada’s finest reporting and writing and frankly, I have a hard time thinking of any activity I’d rather do.  


I love making it, reading it, talking about it. Defending it. 

What’s not to like about being a judge in the COPAS?

(Quick aside, in a work meeting last month, my writer/editor colleague Amanda Jerome advised that if you have a task to perform that you’re putting off, you can radically reframe the job by  instead of saying, “I’ve got to” do this job, try “I get to” do this job. Take Amanda’s theory out for a test spin. It’s powerful.)

I get to judge these stories 

PLUS it’s a duty. Which means I must ignore other, less important chores. Here’s me, Monday, shortly after lunch, to Helena: “Sorry darling, the trip to Winners can’t happen. I really should get to those COPA stories. Duty calls.”

I never actually said “duty calls.” I hope I’d never sink to such a cliché unless I was playing with it, as in “Cat litter needs changing! Doody calls.” Like that.

Where was I? Oh right.  Calls.  To Ernest.

First thing I did when I started judging Monday was pick up the landline and dial Ernest because, well, because I’m a writer and that’s what we do when we’re facing a deadline. Find a distraction. 

So here’s what I told Ernest when he asked “why’d you call me?”

“Thing is, Ernest, I just started judging stories in the Canadian Online Publication Awards competition and frankly, there’s certain times when I just hope and wish and pray that I’ll get a phone call from somebody who will ask ‘what are you up to?’ and I’ll be like, ‘sorry you caught me at a bad time. I have to read some more of Canada’s finest journalism because I’m a judge in this national competition.

“That sounds impressive, doesn’t it?”

I continued, at Ernest: “Have you any idea how much great stuff is being reported out there? All over the place, by large outfits, tiny outfits, students? Until you get involved like this, you lose all perspective and you’d think journalism’s drying up or something, and you’d be dead wrong. It’s flourishing. You just have to know where to look.

“Some of these online publications are not-for-profits while others seem very profitable indeed and you know the best part Ernest? 

“They remind us how important everybody is; how one person’s concerns are as serious as the next’s. Like say if you’re having a hard time finding daycare in Nanaimo and you’re afraid you won’t have enough money for rent, that’s as worrisome for you as some guy who has been told his cat’s dying or somebody whose mom is in a questionable nursing home or whose son is being sent off to war.  That’s what this kind of journalism does, Ernest. 

“You’d love it!

“And the young journalists! They’re doing such amazing work. They do way more research and go further indepth than I ever did. They do better work, too. I’m glad I’m not competing with them.”

Oh wait. I think I and the publication I work for, Law360 Canada, might be competing in a category or two. So never mind that last part.
And maybe I didn’t say those exact words when talking to Ernest. I wasn’t taking notes or recording. 

But that was certainly my message.

It is a privilege to judge.  I do love every moment of judging. 
But just because you love something doesn’t mean you can’t procrastinate, like I did with considerable success by calling Ernest on Monday afternoon. Cuz you can bet the call didn’t end there.
Ernest and I were on the phone for 57 minutes. 

He’s a journalist, for my (Pete’s, get it?) sake. At work or in everyday conversation, people like Ernest work diligently at finding new, helpful and interesting methods to discuss ideas using language and communicative tricks in wholly innovative ways.  

It’s what we do. And that’s what makes judging so damn wonderful. 

I just had a terrific idea for a new category for next year’s COPAs. 

The competition would be Olympian.

Best Procrastination Techniques 

Details to follow.

About the Author: Peter Carter


Toronto writer/ editor/ one-time magazine owner and publisher---35 years experience in Canadian magazines; currently Analysis Editor at Law360 Canada; an online daily news source for Canadian lawyers; Winner of Best Business Blog at COPAs 2014 for Pete's Blog&Grille; National Magazine Awards finalist; accordion player and motorbike enthusiast.

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Lorene Shyba says:
Full of terrific information, Thanks!...