Canadian Magazine Industry News
17 October 2013,     TORONTO
COPA Judges Blog: The Digital Experts
The COPA countdown continues. Here is Martin Seto with more from the COPA Judges Blog, bringing you some thoughts from the digital experts on this year's panel of judges.

The importance of taking advantage of the latest technology techniques to enhance reader engagement stood out for these digital experts in how to create an award-winning entry. The only caveat in this approach is that sometimes it may be too intimidating for the reader if you are too technology-forward. A balanced approach is sometimes best, with user friendliness and easy navigation as keys to reader stickiness, plus great content, of course, to make it all work.

CHRIS SKINNER - The Digital Pro

Chris is the head of digital for CTV at Bell Media. Previously he worked on the magazine side at St Joseph Media. This unique set of skills made Chris the ideal judge for the cross platform category.

The most effective cross-platform executions are those that take the extra care to adapt the content to each platform. The best content also demonstrates an understanding of how the audience consumes content depending on their choice of platform. Publishing an article both in print and online with little or no variation often ignores the inherent and unique storytelling capabilities of print, digital, mobile, etc.

As an industry we have improved considerably over the past several years and yet we continue to see missed opportunities to bring out the best in our content. We place the highest priority on crafting our words, producing the best photography and shooting high-quality video. The last mile is putting it all together in a user experience that inspires, so we don't leave the audience saying “I wish.” As in, “I wish I could see more photos” or “I love what I see, I wish it included a link to buy it” or “I wish I could hear them in their own words.” There will always be a need for great storytelling. The tools for doing so are improving every day and the audience demands we use them to their fullest.

ROBERTO ROCHA  - The Digital Producer

One of our judges from Quebec is Roberto Rocha, who is the Interactives Director at the Montreal Gazette since 2011. We had him judge social media and best mobile optimized website.

It was good to see Canadian publications taking chances in social media and mobile. But too many are still playing it safe, simply using social networks as content dumps instead of using those platforms in creative ways. Simply having a Facebook page, Twitter feed and Pinterest board isn't enough. Given all the good content produced by Canadian media, I expected to see more campaigns made especially for sharing and for engaging community participation.

Things look better on the mobile space. Publications are making good use of responsive design to make their sites look and feel great on small screens. What's missing is optimizing content for that reading experience, which is not the same as web or print.

ZARHA YOUNG - The Magazine Publisher
Zahra, one of the new judges this year, is the Digital Marketing Manager at Readers Digest with over 20 years of experience in consumer marketing. We had Zahra evaluate the best smartphone app and infographics categories.

It was really fantastic to see how our industry is investing in creating and improving the smartphone experiences of their brands - making it easier for the consumers, as well as providing useful tools, all in one app!  Some of the projects were basic and others took it a step further in terms of interactivity and usefulness. 

This is only the beginning, and it will only get better with new technology and ideas.  I also congratulate the brands who submitted some very original, creative and engaging infographics. It really made the news reports come alive! Some of them allowed the reader to get involved in the report to prove their points. All in all, I am proud of our Canadian online publishing industry!

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The 2013 Canadian Online Publishing Awards will be held Wednesday, November 13, 2013 at The Hoxton in Toronto. Click here to register and visit the COPA website for full details.

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