Online Publishing Awards Competition Criteria


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Competition Rules

The COPA awards program is open to any company or organization that produces content for the digital medium in Canada. These companies may include media publishers, corporations, government and advertising agencies. The content must be intended for a Canadian reader and at least one person on the team must reside in Canada. The awards are open to—but not restricted to, writers, editors, graphic designers art directors, creative directors, web developers, photographers, videographers and digital producers.

All winners receive a COPA Awards logo that can be used for marketing and branding purposes. The team members are recognized for their outstanding contribution to online publishing at the COPA Awards Party in November.


  1. Media Publishers
    Open to English, French and other language online publications and websites that serves primarily a Canadian audience, that have offices in Canada. Must have 50% original editorial content and written and/or edited by Canadians living in Canada. Non-Canadian publishers are eligible if the editorial has at least one Canadian on the team that resides in Canada.
  2. Corporations/Organizations
    Corporations or organizations are eligible to enter the awards program if the site or digital property is primarily for a Canadian audience. The site must meet the 50% original content requirement and be written and/or created by Canadians living in Canada. All advertising related entries must be produced by a company with offices in Canada.
  3. Advertising Agencies
    Ad Agencies and design firms can submit entries on behalf of their clients if the ads submitted are created and submitted by the Canadian office. Ads and websites must have one Canadian on the team to be eligible.
  4. Independent Publishers (Less than 20 Full-time staff)
    For the awards evaluation for the Best of Canada Awards “Independent Publisher of the Year” award, an independent publisher will be defined as an organization that produces publications, websites and/ or other digital properties that has less than 20 employees/staff in a full time capacity (does not include part-time freelancers). Publishers that have multi-titles are also eligible if they meet the # of employee’s criteria. Entries can be submitted in any division or category to be eligible and will be considered for the individual awards entered in also.

The work will be reviewed by independent judging panels of highly regarded industry professionals and experts. Some categories have their own specific qualities noted below, but generally, your entry will be judged based on content, design and level of engagement at the time of judging (over an approx. 2 month period during summer 2015).


Consumer (B2C) Content – RED
This is to open to entries that cater to a consumer niche that includes consumer magazines, consumer goods companies and B2C ad campaigns.

Business-to-Business (B2B) Content – BLUE
This is to open to entries that cater to a special B2B niche that includes trade and association magazines, B2B companies and B2B ad campaigns.

News Content – GREEN
This division caters to media outlets for news, current affairs, business, sports and entertainment. This division includes newspapers, news/business magazines, TV, radio stations and digital.


There are 15 categories below. Your work will be judged against other entries in the same category and same division. Consumer B2C (Red), Business B2B (Blue) and News (Green) offer the same 15 categories. You can choose to enter your entry into more than one category as appropriate.

All entries must have been published between July 1, 2014 to June 30, 2015 to be eligible for the 2015 awards.

1. Best Editorial Packaging
This award is for the digital property that provides an editorial message that meets the highest journalists standards in serving their intended audience. Based on five samples of work that can from various writers, photographers, videographers, web masters and other digital content creators to provide a full rounded view of the editorial flavour of the digital property and its engagements with their reader. Entries can include articles, video, infographics, web pages, native apps and reader interaction examples.

2. Best News Coverage
Awarded to the online publication deemed to best serve its audience through timely, original news reporting. Based on three news articles selected by the publication’s editor(s) that demonstrate the quality of the site’s reporting and writing.

3. Best Blog or Column
Awarded to the blog or column deemed to best serve its intended audience through commentary, opinion, reportage, photography, illustration, video and interactive features. Single- and multi-contributor blogs are eligible. Blog must be active at time of judging and three posts, selected by the publication’s editor(s) that demonstrate the quality of the blog’s content.

4. Best Article or Series
Awarded to the article or series of articles deemed to be the best written and best reported among the entries. Features and service pieces are acceptable. Excerpts from books as a story format are eligible.

5. Best Infographic/Data Visualization
Awarded to the best use of data visualization technology and design for journalistic purposes (e.g. interactive maps, animated infographics). Judges will evaluate how well the authors have communicated and presented the relevant information, including ease of use, design, originality and reader engagement (please provide the # reads figures).

6. Best Interactive Story
This award is for the story that best combines words, video, sound, photography, images and interactive features that best serves its intended audience. Based on a feature posted selected by the publication’s editor(s), that demonstrate the educational and/or entertainment value of the interactive feature. Both content and production value will factor into the judging.

7. Best Video Content
This award goes to the video content that best exemplifies the use of video for journalistic purposes. It can be informative and or entertaining and the video must not be longer than 30 minutes, but can be as short as 30 seconds.

8. Best Branded Content
This award is for companies that have created their own digital branded content via any digital means such as website, microsite, landing page, native app and social media. The content can include, but is not restricted to branded newsrooms, magazines and corporate social responsibility/sustainability initiatives. Entrants can submit up to three samples for evaluation for the judges.

9. Best Use of Social Media
This award is for the publisher or organization that makes the best use of social media to meet readers or customer needs. Entries must be submitted in a case study format and will be evaluated on graphic branding, content strategy, conversations generated (comments, tweets, shared links) and reader engagement (page/ video views and brand activations). Entry can be based on a social activity hosted on the publisher’s site and/or appearing on a third-party service such as Youtube, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and any other social media communities.

10. Best Email newsletter design and engagement
Awarded to the best e-mail newsletter. Design, content, editorial strategy and use of the e-mail medium will be considered in judging. Please include sample subject headers used in the email as part of the entry. Engagement metrics can be provided as part of the submission that will include list size and growth, open rates and click through rates.

11. Best Online Campaign
This goes to the online campaign that uses more than one tactic that may include email, web display ads, video, social media, search and sponsored. These campaigns can be publisher audience acquisition programs, client ad campaigns, sponsored content and lead generation programs. Judges will be looking at the creative strategy, copywriting, design, media strategy and campaign results. Reader engagement metrics such as click though rates, social media activity, customers sign-up, or purchases generated must be provided. Other campaign metrics not mentioned above are welcomed.

12. Best Media Web site
This is awarded to the media website that best serves it target audience through content, design, navigation and overall reader experience on any device that includes desktops, laptops, tablets and smartphones. This is open to media brands that are created by an independent third party media company.

13. Best Website Design
This award goes to the website that combines great graphic design on any device that includes desktops, laptops, tablets and smartphones. Technical design elements will also be evaluated that include, but is not restricted to, ease of navigation, click fatigue, download speeds and user friendliness.

14. Best Digital Publication
This award goes to the digital magazine or publication that provides the best “print style” reading experience on a desktop and/or tablet device that goes beyond the digital replica. The use of interactive features such as videos, slide shows to enhance reader engagement will be features the judges will be looking for. The digital property can be in the form of browser based digital edition, native app or web solution. Response statistics as open rates, time spent and numbers of subscribers can be provided in any written summary as part of the entry.

15. Best Mobile Solution
This goes to the mobile solution for smartphones that provides the best reading experience either through a native app or mobile optimized website. Design, content, editorial strategy and functionality will be considered in judging. The use of interactive features such as videos, slide shows to enhance reader engagement will be features judges will be looking for. Response statistics as open rates, time spent and numbers of subscribers can be provided in any written summary as part of the entry.

Readers Digest – Best of Canada Categories
The Best in Canada winners will be from all the entries with the highest scores in the following categories.
Best Content of the Year (Category 1 – 8)
Best Digital Solution of the year (Category 12 -15)
Independent Publisher of the Year (All categories, five finalists will be announced for this award only)


Entry fee: $115 for single entry based on one entry per category. An early bird discount available for all entries submitted by June 1, the entry is $95. This fee does not include HST.

Special discount for Independent publishers.
Independent publishers (20 employees or less) are eligible to enter at the early bird discount rate of $95 at any time. They must be registered as an independent publisher when they submit their entry. All publishers will be verified by COPA staff to meet the 20 employee requirements upon registration.

Fees are payable by credit card via the secured online credit card payment site. Receipts will be automatically sent to contact person’s email address. One payment is accepted per entry. Credit Card statements will show “North Island Publishing.”

Entries must be submitted using the online entry form.


All entries must be uploaded to the competition website no later than midnight PST on Monday, July 6, 2015. The Early Bird Deadline is Monday June 1.


Here are answers to some of your most asked questions. If your questions aren’t answered here, please contact us.

1. Is my website eligible for this competition?

The competition is open to English or French-language online publications based in Canada. The publication must carry some original editorial and a minimum average of 50% Canadian editorial content (written and/or edited by Canadians living in Canada).

2. Do blogs count?

Yes, as long as your blog contains original content, and meets all the other criteria listed above.

3. How do I submit an entry?

You must complete the online entry form. The entry form will have a space provided for the direct URL of the web page, article, or online piece to be judged. Make sure that this URL is a static link and will not change from the time that you submit the entry to the time that the item is judged during summer 2015.

4. When is the deadline to submit entries?

All entries must be uploaded to the competition website no later than midnight on Monday, July 6, 2015, PST.

5. How many entries may I submit?

You may submit as many entries as you’d like to any category in any division. You may submit your website in a multiple of categories, as long as it qualifies for that category. An entry fee is charged for each entry.

6. How does judging work?

The entry forms are e-mailed to the judging panel, made up of three industry experts. The judges are given several weeks to independently review the websites on their own time, giving a score to each entries. We will total up the scores from each judge at the end of August and release the list of finalists prior to the awards ceremony.

7. What if the links change or content is moved on our website?

You need to make sure that the URLs you provide are static links that will not change from the time that you submit the entry to the time that the item is judged. Judges will view your website independently, and as judging takes place over a long period of time, you must ensure that your URL remains accurate during the entire judging period. Judging will take place anytime between August, and September 2015.

8. What if my content is behind a pay wall, how will the judges get access to my content?

Publishers are asked to provide the judges with a login and password for the content. In case of articles a PDF version is acceptable as a back-up provision for publishers, but direct access to the digital content is preferred. Please provide a contact person in case of trouble logging on. Entries that require payment to access their solution please budget 3 judges per entry and provide the funds the judges to be reimbursed by the COPA staff.