Tuesday, June 28, 2016
In my opinion, content marketing has its roots with associations that produce content for their members as a form of industry branded content, as their views are not typically neutral like traditional media.

It has been estimated that there are 18,000 associations in 1,500 subject classifications in the Associations Canada directory. To attract members, a magazine subscription has been used as an anchor for the member recruitment package. This has evolve in the digital age to include a website, newsletter and digital and print versions of the magazine. Through the use of digital editions, many associations have saved on the printing and distribution of a print magazine with digital opt-in at 20-40% of the member lists.

As a media planner I have always liked association publications for B2B campaigns, as the audience is equivalent to a paid audience and each firm must be a member to get the magazine. I can also target by vertical market and there are a lot of industry associations to choose.

Companies like MediaEdge Publishing and Naylor Associations Solutions have helped associations in producing their magazines/websites/newsletters and selling advertising to help pay the costs. So lets take look at various associations’ websites and see what they are doing.

I noticed that association content strategies differ from traditional media sites. The Canadian Medical Association (CMA) uses more of a member service approach with content for physicians like CMA policy and medical industry advocacy, clinical resources, professional development and financial planning.

They provide print/digital journals, websites in both English (CMAJ) and French (Santé Inc.) and an email newsletter. Each issue of CMAJ's digital format is sent to 16,000 medical students and residents, plus additional journals for psychiatrists and surgeons. There are over 83,000 members across Canada and each can receive discounts items such as car rentals, luxury cars, courier, phones, computers, travel and private golf memberships.  

The association of the Chartered Professional Accountants of Canada (CPA Canada) is one the largest in the country with over 200,000 members. The bilingual website provides the content you would expect geared to the accounting professional with articles that talk about the nitty gritty of the profession, including audit & assurance; finance/investing; financial reporting; management accounting; strategy risk and governance; and forensic/investigative accounting. There is some free content on the site plus paid that can be bought through the online store that has 1,300 titles.  CPA Canada offers a website, two email newsletters and a magazine in print and digital. The bilingual magazine has 250,000 subscribers with 25% opting for the digital version. CPA Canada also has a members discount program for expenses such as hotel, cars, wireless, fitness clubs, courier and clothes.

That’s right there is even an association for associations call the Canadian Society of Association Executives (CSAE)with 10,000 members. This modern looking website offers their members a magazine style format for content with a blog, articles, research, bookstore, events and a supplier directory to help their members do their job better.

Michael Bell, from MediaEdge, who works with the CSAE says that long form journalism is alive and well. He says it's needed to explain issues in depth that cannot be done in a snack size article (500 words) that has typically been used by the adtech community as click bait. You can check out the digital version of their magazine at this link
The Association for General Contractors in Ontario has a wide range of content for its 2,500 members that includes news, events, government relations, health and safety and a store. The store enables members to buy industry related documents and sign up for courses. They have a discount program for members for the purchases of cars, insurance and medical services like we saw with the CMA.  They have also partnered with a company called biddingo.com that enables tenders to be advertised online for subcontractor procurement and bidding. Their magazine is branded “The Generals” and is available in print and digital.

After looking at these sites you will notice they all have similar content style and a reader service approach seen in traditional media models. What is unique about industry associations is that they can use their collective buying power to generate discounts for their members on products and services that you do not see on traditional media sites. For B2B marketing, associations offer media products that are highly targeted and deliver a qualified audience that is like a paid subscriber, the ultimate proof of readership.

If you have missed the previous COPA Digital Media spotlights you can check them out below. Up next and our final spotlight will be on Niche publishers in Canada. The deadline for entries for the 2016 COPAs is July 11 and you can enter here.

COPA Digital Media Spotlight

Tuesday, June 21, 2016
We live in a multicultural society and it's only fitting that we take a closer look at the cultural media websites that have evolved to serve the different cultural groups that have been in Canada for multiple generations.

I am a big fan of cultural media as I was its biggest advocate 20 years ago when I worked on the Chinese Edition of Maclean’s and Enroute Asia with Air Canada.

Immigration to Canada brings about 250,000 new Canadians each year and in 10 years we will have added a population of 2.5+ million, enough for a city the size of Vancouver. The biggest cultural groups in by population in Canada are Indo-Asian (1.6M), Italian (1.5M) and Chinese (1.3).

Together these three communities total a population of 4.4 million or the equivalent of 20 cities the size of Regina (pop 210K). So let's have look at some digital properties that serve these communities.


This is an English site serving the Indo-Asian community that has a similar format as other news sites but with more Indo-cultural content that includes coverage of Bollywood. It has standard content mix of editorial, news, entertainment, lifestyle, sport and e-paper.  The Indo-Asian community is now the largest cultural group in Canada with an estimated population of 1.6 Million. Fifty percent of the population is located in the Toronto GTA. The top five cities with Indo-Asian communities are:  Toronto 834K, Vancouver 252K, Calgary 85K, Montreal 79K and Edmonton 61K. 


This website serves the Quebec-based Italian community with news, community, culture, entertainment and sport. The news section includes stories of news in Italy and a heavy dose of European soccer coverage. The print newspaper was established in 1941 and is based in Montreal, a hub of cultural media in Canada. It is estimated that there are 1.5 million Canadians of Italian descent and it is the second largest cultural community in Canada. The top five cities with Italian communities are: Toronto 465K, Montreal 261K, Vancouver 76K, Hamilton 72K and Niagara 50K.


Sing Tao Toronto is a Chinese daily print with a website, radio station and digital supplements to offer marketers to reach the Chinese market. The Chinese (Mandarin and Cantonese) community is the third largest group with a population of 1.3 million and the community gained prominence during a heavy period of immigration prior to the takeover of Hong Kong by China in 1997. Seventy percent are located in Toronto and Vancouver.  The top five cities with Chinese communities are: Toronto 531K, Vancouver 400K, Montreal 91K, Calgary 75, Edmonton 53K, and Ottawa 42K.


The multilingual broadcaster Omni TV, a Rogers’s station, caters to multiple cultural groups that includes Italian, Punjabi, SE Asian and Chinese. This news and entertainment site offers an inventory of local news, soap operas, and movies for all these cultural groups in the form of video. The site included local news for BC, AB and ON markets including kids playing hockey in local leagues. What was not expected was a heavy dose of hockey content to promote the game to new Canadians.


While not the largest, but still prominent is the Jewish community in Canada that numbers 380,000 with 75% located in Toronto (200K) and Montreal (86K). This bilingual site offers news, perspectives and culture that reflects the Jewish lifestyle, like kosher food recipes. This site is polished and is on par with any mainstream media site.

The Internet has enabled the cultural community news media to reach more members of their communities, where traditional media could not reach. This is especially noticed in markets where the population is less than 30,000 where print may be uneconomical. It has been able to unite these groups that are located in urban markets across Canada. The biggest stumbling block will always be that advertising budgets cannot afford multiple versions of their ad in different languages. But a smart marketer never follows the herd as they will not stand out in a crowd. So maybe it's time to revisit cultural marketing as part of the media mix.

The COPA’s Digital Media Spotlight hopes to raise the profile of community news sites this year, and cultural media are considered as part of this community news community.

If you missed the other COPA Digital media Spotlights including Part 1 on Community News, check them out below.

COPA Digital Media Spotlight

Thursday, June 09, 2016
The little siblings of major urban news media are the ones that cater to smaller communities and cultural groups. This COPA Digital Media Spotlight will show what is evolving in the Community News space as we see television, radio and newspapers crossing over each other with similar content.

This segment of the media industry has been hit hard by the digital age as print distribution changed to weekly, and they needed to adapt or perish. Let's start in Western Canada to see how they address this challenge as the publishers look for new sources of revenue and to engage the reader to stay a little longer per visit.


Burnaby Now offers a standard mix of traditional content, including News, Sports, Opinion, Entertainment, Business and Community News/photos that is seen in print. The site’s content also has Real Estate, Store Flyers and a unique section called Standout that is used for sponsored content that they have been very successful with in populating. Readers can also subscribe to an email newsletter.


Small community newspapers like the Jasper Fitzhugh in Alberta, are trying to reinvent themselves to replace lost print classified and employment ad revenue taken away by their digital competitors, who give it away for free. This tourist town website has a content mix of News, Sports & Life, Arts & Culture, Events and a Tour of Alberta section. This publication is leveraging the use of digital editions for the newspaper and local telephone directories for new sources of revenue online.


The Prairie Post with its base in Swift Current provides News, Sports, Opinion and Entertainment on their website with content that includes local news in Saskatchewan and Alberta. This small town paper provides similar content that is available in print with broader geographical coverage on the website with sports video highlights. The sports video highlights are for the Swift Current Broncos games, a Jr. A team in the CHL, providing a TV style coverage that is local.


The digital age has not only affected the local community newspaper; it has impacted local TV stations as well in communities like Peterborough. CHEX TV station’s website is a News Magazine format with lifestyle content. The core content of News, Weather, Sports and Community are there but its mix includes Entertainment, Science & Tech, Health, Business, Politics, Autos. CHEX Daily TV newscasts and station community shows can also be viewed on the website. It also has a really unique piece of content, a Police Blotter that reports local crime activity and Police PSAs. Who would of thought 10 years ago a local TV station will be a Community News website.


Serving the rural communities in Quebec’s Laurentions is the English language Main St, based in Lachute. This community news site has a website and digital edition of their weekly newspaper that has lots of ads in it (It looks like print is still strong in this market). The content mix includes the standard fare of Local news, Entertainment, Business Directories and Real Estate listings that you would expect. The unique content on the site are information on health care and schools in English. They also offer an email newsletter.


The next place of digital convergence is local radio stations as they face the same pressure as print and TV. This radio station in Grand Falls, NB – K93FM, a top 40 hits format has a content mix that includes music and contests—standard fare for a radio station, plus, news, events, a community Instagram feed and a discount coupon service for local retailers to advertise in. This station is part of the Bell Media family and the discount coupon program is through their shopify.com program that they use with their network of radio stations, where are shopper can purchase a discounted gift certificate online.

In the Community News space the print, tv and radio mediums are truly colliding as each have similar core content that makes them a community news website, but each have unique characteristics.

The COPAs this year are recognizing the “Best Community Website” to give them a higher profile in the COPA Awards program.  that closes on July 11 for entries, as you cans see there is good work being done out there. Next up Cultural Media websites, this is a natural since Canada is a multi-cultural nation as cultural sites are also considered “Community News”.
Thursday, May 19, 2016
The demise of radio as depicted in the 1979 song from the Buggles - Video Killed the Radio Star is a great example of what's happening to all traditional media in the digital age. Doom and gloom came to the radio industry when TV was invented, but it is still around and is ranked #2 of all mediums after TV.  This high ranking could be higher if AM/FM tuner apps were available on top selling smartphones. The technology is there, where your headphones can be used as an antennae for the AM/FM tuner.

Why then is Radio Surviving?
The answer - The medium owns the car,  it is free and the ads are entertaining.
The facts supports this case. According to Audience Insights, a market research firm, the AM/FM dial has a 68% share of listening time in the car. The time spent in the car according to the 2015 Media Directors Digest is 127 km per week with radio listenership at 13 hrs./wk. TV by comparison is 21 hrs./wk. The 30-second ad spot is very effective in creating “Theatre of the Mind” with a great jingle or brand story versus other ad formats.


Radio comes in a wide variety of formats including music, news, talk, cultural and sports. Music has formats like Adult Contemporary, Rock, Hits, Jazz, Classical, Dance and each genre appeals to a different slice of today’ consumer. But, there is no medium that can reinvent itself like radio, as they can change their content format over night sometimes. The history of CHUM 1050 AM in Toronto is a classic case, as it started out as a TOP Hits Radio station during AM’s hey day and is now a sports station owned by Bell Media (TSN).

We now live In a world where all media is crisscrossing each other in their content strategy. Radio websites have also crossed over into the magazine, entertainment, sports and news media space, in this age of media convergence.  So let's have look at what stations across the country are doing, as they reinvent themselves as the “reading and listening" medium—based on their content strategies. You can now go to a radio website listen to the tunes and read news and stories that may interest you.

Indie88, a rock station in Toronto has created a website that is more music and entertainment magazine than radio station. They just won “Rock Station of the Year” at the Canadian Music and Broadcast Industry Awards. The website allows you to check out new bands that do not get airplay on other music radio formats and also offers content on Canadian artists, music, film, events, local Toronto news and music videos.


The station was launched three years ago and now has 179,000 traditional daily listeners in the Toronto market. On the digital side the website has 425,000 visitors/month, 45,000 App downloads and 40,000 email subscribers. Users are highly engaged spending 27 minutes per website visit with streaming visitors lasting 1 hr and 20 minutes, which number 50,000 per month.

On the social side the station has over 125,000 followers/likes on three platforms (Facebook, Twitter and Instagram). The digital audience is rock solid and one that any magazine would be happy to have. The questiojn now is…Are  they still a radio station? Or are they a Music & Entertainment Magazine with a live streaming service of your favourite music?

If we go to cowboy country in Edmonton the Bear 100.3, a Rock station, it takes a different approach, using sex and edgy content like “If you Like Strippers” promo and humorous “guy locker room talk” video content for their male demo. Their approach is leveraging the on-air talent Paul Brown as a talk show host that video broadcasts jokes/skits and on-air interviews. I found them real funny, but I am guy and they remind me of Howard Stern in their type humour.


In Montreal 96.9 CKOI, a French language Hits Radio station has morphed into a content destination hub that offers, music stories, comedy podcasts and a lifestyle magazine that cover topics like news, sports, arts & entertainment, art of living, technology, science & nature. This hub of information rivals any lifestyle magazine that is out there. This site is a truly a read and listen medium for the French market.


Lastly, 680News,  a Toronto news radio station, is now a news aggregator website with  local, national, business, sports, world and entertainment sections from all Rogers titles. A unique feature is a traffic monitor that includes links to traffic cameras for live feeds. This is no different that any newspaper or TV news website for content in the digital age.


There are over 560 radio stations in Canada that are in the digital media scene now and they are producing some great content. Many of them will be recognized at the 2016 COPAs for the first time with the Best Radio Website Award and Best Podcast as the most obvious categories. They can also enter in the News and Consumer categories for content, based on what we see here. In my next COPA Digital Media Spotlight, I will be looking at the changes in the Community News area of content as print and local TV stations converge in this space.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016
One of the competitive advantages of the ad tech community is that they are positioned as the low cost medium with CPMs as low as $1.00 for ad impressions. To achieve this low price, these companies have automated the content publishing (via user generated) and the ad buying process as part of their business model. This is a huge competitive advantage for the ad tech sector versus traditional media organizational structures, who have editorial and sales teams and ad rates in the $10-50 CPMs range. At these rates, it sounds like they are dumping ad inventory in an oversaturated market to get market share.


This huge price advantage suggests further pain for publishers in the competition for on-line ad sales. As one president of a mid-size ad agency told me “ Business sucks, it’s tough to survive in the digital age”. This  observation offers the media industry little comfort in today’s environment. So what are we to do as an industry? We are told that we have to go digital to prosper, but it is tough to compete against the ad tech community as they eat up more share of the ad market each year. So let's take a page out of their playbook, instead of them taking one from ours like the packaging of content marketing and native ads that follows the rules of magazine publishing. Let's see where we can automate tasks.

One of the great benefits of technology is that it can automate repetitive tasks that can save on labour costs and increase staff productivity. I still remember the first wave of automation technologies in the publishing industry during the late 1980’s where typesetters, mechanical layout artists, stats cameras, digital retouching and film were are part of the production process and replaced with an Apple Macintosh computer with desktop publishing software and eventually direct to print technology.  Art Directors in this period of transition needed to update their skills as the coloured marker and pieces of paper was becoming obsolete in the creative process and replaced with a keyboard and mouse.

Technologies used to automate today are robot calls and email broadcasts for mass communication. On websites content is published through a CMS and the use of e-commerce check-outs for online sales. For operations there are CRMs, accounting, design, digital edition/app solutions, database and pre-press digital systems. As publishing operations we always strive to get leaner and there is an automation technology that can help with web content at no cost to publishers.

CNW has a content automation tool/widget that publishers can use as content on their site for free. ‘’The CNW News widgets helps provide current content at no cost for a blog or news site,’’ says Nadine Tousignant, Manager, Media and Audience Relations for CNW. The source content is from press releases and it appears as content on your website based on editorial and geographical criteria. The publisher provides a blank web page link on the site and CNW provides the code for the content automation that fills the page. The news feed will appear on the site as a special section with a five story teaser feed that can appear on the home page.

We tested this technology on the Masthead and the COPA sites and it works well as the widget enables the publisher to automate the process of reviewing press releases that may be relevant for your audience. In our case Masthead will have media news and on the COPA site we used digital news filters. For transparency with the reader  the content  is clearly identified as a news feed from CNW.  To read the content, they are not directed to the CNW website, but it appears on the host’s website with the graphic branding intact. All traffic on the web site generated by the content is tracked by the host web sites reporting system so content integration with current processes is seamless. All content that is distributed on the site is reported back to the issuer and helps raise the profile of the media brand as a secondary benefit.




This solution can help small publishers compete against the ad tech community’s competitive advantage of free content and will only take a few of hours for your web person to set it up. The time saving through this content automation concept surely has some benefits to consider. This type of content automation can only complement the information provided on the website as original and insightful—thought cannot be generated by an algorithm and that costs money. This looks like a win-win situation for publishers; they can get free content for their website and CNW’s clients get better press coverage in this two way relationship.

There will be a growing wave of marketing automation technologies that you will be pitched from companies promising the benefits of data management and integrating the data with your marketing efforts. They will claim that this will handle your leads and sales better versus what you are doing now. The system will monitor all reader entry points like social media, email and web site plus customer data that is processed by an analytics algorithm. The algorithm creates a personalized customer profile that will help improve customer service and lead nurturing at each stage of the sales cycle. Geez this sound like a modern circulation plan, maybe they took this idea from our playbook too.
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)
reflexmediasales.com or 416-907-6562, and on LinkedIn.

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