Friday, September 10, 2021
Canada has always got lost on the global stage (except for hockey of course) and we need to raise the voice of the work of Canadian digital creators to demonstrate the world class work being done in Canada. We no longer want to be second fiddle on the world stage, we want to be a player. The Canadian Online Publishing Awards aka COPAs has become the tip of the spear for the digital publishing industry in Canada by showcasing and helping Canadian content creators move the needle forward for their brands.


The COPAs was started in 2009 as an industry showcase of the Best Digital Content creators in the magazine and newspaper industries. In 13 years it has become the largest Digital Publishing Awards Program in Canada with 4 divisions - Academic, B2B, B2C and News/Sports with a mandate is to reflect Canada’s multi-cultural diversity whenever possible. This industry showcase will show marketers the benchmarks for quality and authentic content on the internet. In world of SEO driven content, we need to show the gap on what is authentic and SEO fluff.


Sandy Donald, Publisher of Masthead, states  the COPAs “have become the pre-eminent Digital Awards Program in Canada.  With more than a decade of history, it is important to refer to the inclusiveness and participation of all geographic regions across Canada. 

The Who’s Who's in Canada of Digital Publishing

The 90+ volunteer Judging Panel for the 2021 Awards program (available at this link) is a Who’s Who in Canada of industry experts in publishing, digital, creative, writing, marketing and media.  2021 Judges Link




The Winners in 2020 came from across Canada and there was a multi-cultural flavour amongst the winners that had English, French, Chinese and tribal communities (IndigNews (gold and Silver) and Nuu-chah-nuith Tribal Council (Silver). Elle Canada Quebec (two gold,) Tabloïd (gold, silver), Fête Chinoise (two gold ) and Xtra magazine a gender magazine won a silver.


To build on this the 2021 Awards will have for the first time a multi-cultural article category that is free to enter. There has been a lot of news created in this area the past year and the COPAs want to recognize this work. Entry Deadine September 30.  ENTER HERE






Help Support Orange Shirt Day (National Day for Truth and Reconciliation) this September 30. It is now a statutory holiday in 2021. All communities should look at this as the rallying cry for the people that have been disadvantaged in our nation’s checkered history.  Help educate people and promote awareness in Canada about the plight of tribal communities and the use of the residential school system by spreading the word.

Tuesday, December 22, 2020
One rule of life is that invention is the mother of necessity and the COPA Awards this year we had to pivot on the fly to changing to market conditions. My journey in re-inventing the COPA awards party this year has been both fun and exciting in many ways as I was forced outside the box to come up with a solution. This year I wanted to retain the key elements of the COPA Awards party as this is a PARTY and this is an industry celebration. With the pandemic keeping people at home I also want do something to lift the spirits of these people with the event, a challenging prospect.


The COPAs are the tip of the spear for the publishing industry as we forge ahead in competing with the titans of the digital ad industry that control the lion share of ad dollars. So we intend to lead the charge as help the industry innovate with the re-invented COPA Awards Party. We resisted the temptation to have a free event and have created a paid model that hopefully makes it better than ever before for all participants from across the country. We welcome the industry to participate in this test of this new model,


12th Annual COPA Awards Party


This year’s COPA event has been reinvented to a live digital affair that will allow finalists to participate for the first time from across Canada versus a live-in-person event. Based on industry feedback we are going too push the edge with a digital event where all attendees will have a personal Avatar, that will be your virtual person at the digital venue. (We have been told that Zoom is so tired and we need a little excitement and fun.) The event will be broadcasted on twitter #COPAwards as in previous years.


Your own Personal Avatar

The Avatar will allow you to go into to different rooms and have one-on-one  conversations with people you see at the digital venue. The rooms are set up for presentations with video, for networking and group chats with friends and colleagues. You can even send a drink emoticon to friend you see to start a conversation.


Digital Venue
The COPA Awards will be held on Thursday Feb 4 from 4-7pm EST in a Classroom style floorpan that you can navigate with your avatar and go to different rooms and watch presentations or just chat with a friend or colleague. You can come a go as you please in the rooms. Each room can hold up to 16 people and with a video chat format. We will have drop-in presentations in two rooms from Business Wire on Content Management and from Happyfication on Media Tech Trends for Publishers. The main auditorium where the COPA Awards will shown will allow attendees to come to the stage and receive the award.



COPA After Party

We will have for the first time a "COPA Winners After Party" at a virtual paradise island location as part of the festivities. Members of your team can go into any room or on the beach on this virtual island and have your own private party. All Winners will receive a Winners Digital Loot Bag via email during the After Party to all people that attend.



We are working with Sococo in creating an event model using their virtual office platform in Canada as an added value partner, who has been around for over 5 years. Here is a link to a video how on this works. We hope you will join us in what has been described by the COPA Judges Panel so far as “Cool” and “Innovative.” shows us that we are on the right track. The cost is $30 to attend and you can register here COPA PARTY.



Dates: February 3 and 4, 2020

Wednesday: February 3: Digital Venue Open House (Drop-in)

Thursday: February 4: COPA AWARDS PARTY

Presentations: 2pm and 3pm 

BusinessWire: Content Trends (30 mins)

Happyification: Media Tech Trends (30 mins)

COPA Awards - 4 -7pm

COPA AFTER Party 7-9pm

Cost: $30 person (10% discount for 5 or more)

Sunday, August 23, 2020
The Internet is now entering its third decade and the new industries that piggybacked on this development included sin industries like porn and gambling that are multibillion segments of the digital ecosystems. The Porn industry is estimated at $5 Billion in the USA. Ad Fraud in ad networks became a major concern in this decade and it is also a multibillion$ segment. The emergence of the dark web (invented by the USA government btw.) allowed illegal activities like the Silk Road site to sell illegal drugs that used bitcoin as digital currency for transactions, you can say this is the origin of e-commerce today.

 The Silk Road Website was an underground website that sold drugs using a newly invented digital currency bitcoin.

Google entered the hardware market in 2011 with the Chromebook software that was used in low cost laptop computers that was connected to the cloud. This device has become a major staple in public schools due to its $200 price point. The app gold rush started to wind down by 2013 and a whole bunch of new technologies emerged to continue the internet gravy train.

QR codes was a innovation that started with a flash in 2001 and then disappeared in North America, but has made a huge impact in Asian countries especially in China as part the WeChat mobile app for personal security. QR codes are graphic icons that are scanned by your smartphone that goes to a specific URL 


Behavioural advertising was a concept that enabled advertisers to model consumer behaviour based on their website browsing history through the use of cookies and then deliver ads based on this history (this model it is felt is wrong 50% of the time). This opened a privacy issue can of worms, some people found this creepy and this raised the issues of the use of personal data without consent by these companies.

In 2012, the Gangham Style video had over 1 billion views on YouTube. This video really brought YouTube mainstream as a dominant digital channel as it created a mystique that you can post a video on YouTube and become famous and wealthy. This started a video tidal wave gold rush mentality.

 The Gangham Video created a Video Gold Rush of Selfie Videos and Branded Content

As the Internet got older more facts were learned about the ecosystem as we had the public web and dark web and got know know a little bit of bot traffic, the non-human component of the internet. Bot traffic consists search engine spiders, spammers, fake profiles and click bots. This traffic is included in some web analytics as they cannot tell what is real and not real. It ha been estimated 50% of web traffic are humans and the rest bots.

This decade saw the adoption of 4G speed wireless networks that enable broadband spread for the internet, this enabled smartphones to become more useful and became the primary device for most individuals. Smartphone traffic on the internet jump to 50% of all traffic by 2016. The term Smartphone Zombie emerged in 2016 to describes an individual personal relationship with the smartphone. In previous years it was Crackberry.

The hype for 5G Wireless networks that offer fibre optic speeds or faster with higher bandwidth capability, in others words a high speed super size tunnel for the internet, started with the “ Internet of Things“ hype where smart appliances can connect to the internet like your fridge.

The second of half of the decade the digital ecosystems was rocked with it share of scandals like Ad Fraud. Facebook revealed they had 3.2 Billion fake users on the website in 2019 and there was a growing misuse of fake news for political objectives in social media. Google and Facebook both took a blind eye to the rampant ad fraud as they profited from it. Facebook was accused in a court action in 2016 of inflating advertising metrics to the detriment of advertisers.

 The digital shakedown of the Ad Tech Industry began in the later half of the decade

Government intervention was required to help deter the rampant ad fraud and hacker activity the CASL SPAM Regulations in 2017 and GDPR Email rules in 2018 that require for all digital communication to be permission based that include these of cookies. In January 2018 Procter & Gamble publicly stated that the their is a lot of bad actors in the digital ecosystem.

Three new technologies emerged in 2017, virtual reality headsets, Chatbots and artificial Intelligence as the latest hype from the tech industry. Earlier in the decade BIG Data and the cloud computing was the big hype. One of the milestones of AI was a conputer beat a human in chess game in 2017. New Apps for the smartphone emerged that provided free communication services like Whats App and We Chat in China. The WeChat app is unique as it allows mobile payments and QR codes as part of the person profile. The safety promises made by self driving cars took a big hit in 2016 when there first fatal accident. Drone technology took off in his latest part of the decade and is now a military weapon of mass destruction.

With the introduction of 5G networks in Asia a concept called the Smart City emerged. These 5G networks allows the use of smart lampposts that is the cornerstone of a smart city. These lampposts connected to the internet can provide a wifi hotspot, video surveillance, sound/speakers, image sensing and a range of other features. Smart Cities is a vision of the future but critics of this technology say this is an invasion of privacy. They are now used in Hong Kong and they are viewed as a public spying tool and protests have been made damaging the posts in 2019.

 The Smart Lampost that is part of the Smart City Vision

As we enter 2020 what is emerging after the COVID-19 market disruption is that the economy will now be more digital centric as online shopping, curbside shopping and the closure of malls affects consumer behaviour. We will see the growth of consumer medical technology in 2020 with personal apps for medical screening in addition to security screen in public events and airports. We will see the acceleration of the digital cloud infrastructures as companies will now have a higher percentage of remote workers in the next decade. We look forward to the technological marvels that will be invented with the advent of 5G mobile networks in the coming decade.


Thursday, July 02, 2020

We have all had to deal with the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic. Here is how Annex Business Media adapted to the unexpected disruption to their business model caused by Covid-19. Annex, the largest B2B publisher in Canada with over 64 B2B tittles and produces 35 industry events like conferences, trade shows, webinars and table top events. Well all their events are now cancelled and they had to quickly rethink this source of revenue.



The last market disruption that spurred the virtual event concept was 9/11 when the Virtual Trade Show concept was born. This was a naive attempt to replicate the trade show model online and was definitely a case of over promise from tech vendors. But online meetings started to flourish. companies like “ Go to Meeting” emerged to serve this space and is now a common business tool for sales staff. Webinars emerged as an effective tool to provide awareness for a company’s brand story and lead generation.


Scott Jamieson, COO of Annex Business Media decided to re-invent the company’s events model to a virtual conference. They adopted a 2.5 hour online conference model with a series of speakers. Below is a video from one of the conferences for Talent Canada for their Back to Work Virtual Summit held on May 27. The audience engagement for their virtual events saw good attendance, including USA visitors with one attracting over 300 people. They have done four so far for Talent Canada, Canadian Security, Canadian Manufacturing Online, and Firefighting and right now they are free to attend.



The webinar conference model is a viable tool for lead generation for companies in this digital age as face to face contact the epitome of relationship building to help your business grow is not available. Dennis Kelly, a media expert says the media mix which surrounds us is ever evolving and while platforms change, so do the users. We have an amazing adaptability to change and utilize the new tools to carve out a new reality, that includes an endless stream of measurement tools that monitor every waking, and probably sleeping moment. So it looks like we will all have to adapt the the online conference model, schools are doing this with on-line learning and the rest of the world is following suit.

Thursday, June 27, 2019

Ok Lets pick up now to the turn of the new century, we found out that the Y2K scare became a non-incident, but we started to see the side effects of this new information highway as some very disruptive and some down right evil things started to evolve like a virus mutating. 



This stage of the decade the music industry was the first casualty of the internet as music become digital and the adoption of mp3 music players gathered up steam. Sites like Napster that offered a free music sharing service reached 26 million users during its brief existence and was very disruptive for the music industry. People can now get music for free during this time. When Apple introduced the iPod/iTunes in 2001, we started to see a new business model emerge as Apple entered the music distribution business and as we all know how widely successful that became. 


The turn of the century was the start of the decline of the newspaper ad revenue through sites like Craigs List that offered free ads. Sites like also directed a second blow to the newspaper industry for Help wanted ads. Kijiji another FREE ad website was launched in 2005 to further take a bite out newspapers ad pie. You can best describe the newspaper industry during this decade as a deer frozen  while staring at headlights with doom on the horizon.



The Growth of the Ad Tech Sector

Social media became the new buzzword in this decade for personal websites as you can now get one for free from sites like Linkedin, Facebook and Twitter. The Free economy started to gather momentum as everything was free on the internet like video calling through Skype, Google Maps and YouTube for online video streaming.  Search Engines like Google used the free content provided online as part as their business model for their Ad Sense Ad Network  launched in 2003 and the Ad Tech sector was born.


In 2007 the iPhone and Kindle book reader were launched and the Kindle started off a storm of innovation for book publishing as the Kindle reader allowed Amazon to sell digital editions of their books. The iPhone combined all the benefits of a iPod, cell phone and PDA into one device and was labeled a smartphone. The Android smartphone was launched in 2008 and was supported by Samsung and other major hardware vendors to compete against Apple. Android is an open source software and Google helped create it and it is free to use.

During this time mobile networks were 3G that provided good internet download speeds so the internet became mobile now. The launched of the smartphone created an “APP” gold rush as companies released apps for this new digital storefront provided by iTunes and Google Play for software app like games, magazine, newspapers, social media, and e-commerce flooded the market.


Further industry disruptions continued later in the decade, in 2008, with AirBnb (home sharing) and Uber (car sharing) jump started the shared economy model where individuals could share their home/car online for a fee. AirBnb has disrupted the rental housing market and hotel stays in some cities and Uber left a trail of destruction for the taxi industry in each city it started business in. Digital currency was invented in 2008, called Bitcoin and today there is a digital currency gold rush based on this innovation.

Another disruption for the financial markets emerged as companies could now raise seed funding for their products instead of banks through Kickstarter.  In the automotive industry, Telsla an electric car with an onboard computer was launched in 2003 to pave the way to marry computer AI technology for self driving cars that has caused a wave of development in the car industry. The jury is still out to see where this innovation will lead us to everyday use of self driving cars as the safety promises of self driving cars are in serious doubt with accidental deaths.


Digital marketing became fashionable with the content marketing model being used to distribute messages on social media channels. This was part of the the growth of a new industry -  Ad Tech. The industry’s pitch branded content/advertorial to advertisers because readers like to click on articles and more the clicks on articles the better the search engine rankings and thus more traffic to your website. This spawn concepts like native advertising ad networks and banner ad farms. This industry used advertising as their primary revenue model and sometimes would show 20 ads for one article view on ad farms sites and the content for these articles tended to be sensational like tabloid journalism.  


A side effect of this development was the use of fake stoires (Farticles) to pictch products and the growing use of ad blockers by readers. Ad blockers came on the scene at the end of the decade as ad clutter was overwhelming users. The ad tech sector also spawned a fake profile creation service for social media that has become part of the digital ad ecosystem and has been suspected being used for geo-politics.

Not to be outdone the underground economy also went digital as scams  that used to be by snail mail and phone can now be delivered online. The LoveYouEmail Virus in 2000 infected 50 millions windows computers worldwide. More cyber criminals entered the market with The Code Red Worm, the Goner Virus and Email phishing became a new channel of distribution for the Nigerian Scammers. Ransomware also become a problem as the virus would shut down your computer and you had to pay them a fee to unlock the computer. 


Hardware technology had major leaps with innovations like touch colour screens and  large flat panel tv screens. Processing power of the chip continued as smartphones became just as powerful as a desktop computer. Retailing saw a new consumer habit start to form called show rooming where they would go to a bricks and mortar store to the see product but buy it online from another vendor. The digital gold rush of the first decade of the new century had a lot of winners and losers and new industry giants emerged like Google, Apple, Facebook and Samsung. Next up Part three 2010-2020 - The Future of Digital


About Me
Martin Seto

Martin Seto is the principal of Reflex Media, a media consultancy practice offering media owners digital publishing, event management and ad sales help. His media expertise also include working with ad agencies as a media buyer/planner for tv, radio, print, outdoor, magazine and online. He has been in the advertising and media industry for 25+ years and he has been an instructor/speaker with Centennial College and at magazine conferences across Canada. He can be reached at marty(dot)seto(at) or 416-907-6562, and on LinkedIn.

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