Canadian Magazine Industry News
17 October 2013,     TORONTO
COPA Judges Blog: The Marketing Experts
The COPAs are just around the corner. Here, from his COPA Judges Blog, Martin Seto brings you some general thoughts and feedback from the marketing experts on this year's panel of judges.

What we tried to do this year was have judges look at entries not just from the artistic point of view, but to ensure that there are practical marketing benefits as well.

This year we have brought in some marketing experts from the client and agency side. The general feeling from these judges was the need to design for the medium, and not just take design principles from the traditional model and use them for the digital world.

IAN KILVERT - The Client

Ian is a MarCom consultant in the sponsorship, technology and entertainment industries through his firm Get SET, and has over 20 years of corporate marketing experience. He was the GM of corporate brand management at Panasonic Canada Inc. for eight years. Ian was a judge in the online-only websites and infographic categories.
There was a lot to like about the entries in both the infographic and the online-only publication sites that I viewed. The most common feature of the sites that scored well was a clean design with good use of colour and a good use of white space. Filling every inch of space online is just as disconcerting to the eye in this medium as it is on the printed page.
Fun graphics that help to draw the eye and bring the information to life is also a key design feature. This is especially true when trying to convey the outcome of a poll with a lot of numbers. Rollovers can and were used effectively in this situation. Making the site interactive is another great way to engage the reader and help make it more educational.

The world is a pretty serious place, but when appropriate, using fun, catchy call-outs or headlines can put a smile on the reader's face. Finally, a good use of video content is key. Like it or not we live in a “YouTube” world now and video is a very important element to tell a story.

PATRICIA GRAY - The Media Expert

Patricia is the managing director, digital solutions at MEDIA EXPERTS, one of the top media agencies in Canada with clients such as Bell, Best Buy, BMW, Marks and West Jet. She was a judge for the category of best companion website.

Magazines have been putting the aesthetics of their content in the foreground for years - the printed edition had to be beautiful in order to capture readers' attention. Magazines' websites sprung up out of necessity and were quickly populated with content to “get the job done.”  Web pages were too often boxes filled with words, lacking the attention to aesthetics so prevalent in their print editions. 
I applaud all the great recent efforts made by the “offline” industry to bring the same care to their site that they have for so long shown in their book, show and locations. Filling the screen (in the various sizes that it might be) with beautiful imagery, colour, rich video and of course a high level of journalism, is the current rule. 

Website designers need to have an understanding of the layout of the screen to give the digital content its own distinct look, something that closely resonates with the offline media, but not just a digital version of it.
PAUL BIES  - The  Branding Agency

Paul is president of Mystique Brand Communications, a boutique agency based in Toronto since 1986 that offers branding, creative and digital marketing services. Paul was asked to judge the email newsletter category this year.

E-newsletter success...Unfortunately, judges weren't privy to the top five metrics I typically use to measure email success: Opens, Click-Through, Conversion, Buzz, and ultimately ROI. Striving to improve these key areas will significantly impact profitability and deliver true value to your brand - regardless of the outcome of these awards. However, without this data scores were tallied solely on Content and Design. By this merit there were a few standouts.

It was nice to see that most of the newsletter entries judged observed the maxim of 'less is more.' The majority were well written, utilizing both engaging headlines and photos with the best design for easy scanability.

Design makes a difference. Beyond being professional looking and consistent with your brand, the newsletters I gave highest marks also displayed key messages above the fold. And while I couldn't test, therefore grade, whether the templates were responsive, with mobile device use growing your newsletter should absolutely be responsive in design to ensure that it looks great on screens of any size.

Congratulations to the winners. I invite you to visit and sign up for our newsletter… Brand+Aid. I'd love to hear your feedback.

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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 registerand visit the COPA website for full details.
— Martin Seto