Thursday, April 24, 2014
The COPAs - In Search of Digital Excellence
Today’s media environment is a world with no borders. Traditional boundaries between mediums like print, TV and radio have become blurred in the digital universe. The best example is how media brands no longer exist in a single platform, like a TV station. Now they are offering website ads and a magazine (print and digital), or a radio station with both radio and internet listeners plus a website. We have companies launching their own media brand as part of their content marketing strategy. There is also a strong underground economy on the internet that causes publishers and advertisers a lot of pain.

This is an exciting time in the publishing world as the old school models are no longer valid. The mission of the COPAs is to foster digital publishing excellence in Canada and reflect what is happening in the marketplace. Great content cannot survive without great ads and corporate web sites that link to them.

Competition brings out the best in both people and companies. It shows you where your weaknesses are and inspires you to do better. The Call for Entries for the 2014 COPAs begins May 1. Click here to see the 2014 rules. To help inspire you, I have two comments from last year’s judges below on how the industry can do better.


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Charlene Rooke

Charlene is the group editor of the custom publishing team at the Globe and Mail. She has written about travel for various magazines and authored two books on the subject. She was a judge in the Best Online-Only Article or Series category in 2013.
“I enjoyed reading most of the entries in this category the same way I would enjoy reading a well-written, long-form magazine article. Yet I expect more from top-notch digital storytelling: I expect it to take advantage of the digital platform and how people consume digital content. I expect it to make the most of multimedia and programming capabilities. I expect it to be daring, in content and format, in ways that print publications would not. Most of the entrants, surprisingly, didn't realize the full potential of online content.”

Jean Snow

Jean is based in Tokyo and is the executive director of the Pecha Kucha organization. He runs The Magazine, a website about magazine culture.

“More than any problem with the content itself, which I found to be generally strong throughout all the entries, the biggest problem with the current crop of blogs lies in the design and layouts. For the most part, we are dealing with a basic look that has barely progressed from the early days of Blogger. Although it's a tried and tested format, as readers who are now getting used to reading all manner of magazine content in digital form (especially on tablets), blogs on the web need to compete with that and web technologies these days can certainly enable more adventurous design layouts, as well as the inclusion of various media (slideshows, audio, video, etc.). The biggest offenders tend to be the websites of print magazines. For the most part, all of these sites follow the same basic structure, and they're all indistinguishable except for the top logo.”

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As we try to innovate, the latest buzzword is engagement. But what makes effective engagement for publishers and advertisers? Does it follow the traditional ladder of involvement (i.e. awareness – interest – desire – shop – buy – repeat customer)? I have seen publishers thinking that a Facebook ‘like’ is the path to success online, but where does it fit in the ladder of involvement. New metrics have been invented by technology companies that have minimal marketing value, like clicks, likes and shares, that at best contribute to awareness. The promise of shortening the customer sales cycle through technology may be an over-promise.

When I wear my media buyer’s hat all I am looking for is to reach of my target audience in a trusted media brand, and cost efficiencies. I do not see how a Facebook like or share has any impact on a media plan. Clicks are good but not as important as a brand impression. The goal of any advertising program is top share of mind at time of purchase and sales are always the best metric at the end of the day.

- Martin Seto
About Me
Martin Seto

Martin Seto is the producer of the Canadian Online Publishing Awards (COPAS) with 30 years of life expereince in technology, advertising, media and creative exploration. He can be reached at marty(dot)seto(at) or 416-907-6562, and on LinkedIn.

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