Canadian Online Publishing Awards
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Competition Rules
Canadian Online Publishing Awards 2016

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, associations, 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/Non-Profit Organizations, Associations
    Corporations, non-profit organizations and associations 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. two month period during summer 2016).


Consumer B2C Media niche content
This is to open to entries that cater to a consumer niche that includes consumer magazines, consumer goods companies and B2C ad campaigns.

Business B2B Media - Trade media, Associations, Schools
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. Entries from students at Academic institutions can enter in this division.

News – Politics, Current Affairs, Community News, Business, Sports, and Entertainment content
This division caters to media outlets for news, current affairs, business, sports and entertainment. This division includes newspapers, news/sports, business magazines, TV, radio stations and digital.


There are 17 categories below. Your work will be judged against other entries in the same category and same division. The three divisions each have 15 categories with some unique to the division. You can choose to enter your entry into more than one category as appropriate.

All entries must have been published between July 1, 2015 and June 30, 2016 to be eligible for the 2016 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 came 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.
(This award is available in all divisions)

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.
(This award is only available in the news division)

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) should demonstrate the quality of the blog’s content.
(This award is available in all divisions)

4. Best Continuing Coverage of a News Story
This new award goes to the news coverage of a continuing story that may happen over a period of time. Multiple articles may be submitted as part of the coverage. The story may be in the form of video, podcast, articles and photos.
(This award is only available in the news division)

5. 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.
(This award is available in all divisions)

6. Best Infographic Design
Awarded to the best use of design and technology together for journalistic purposes (e.g. interactive maps, animated graphics, landing page). Judges will evaluate how well the authors have communicated and presented the relevant information, including ease of use, design, originality and reader engagement.
(This award is available in all divisions)

7. 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 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.
(This award is available in all divisions)

8. Best Video Content
This award goes to the video content that best exemplifies the use of video for journalistic and entertainment 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.
(This award is available in all divisions)

9. Best Podcast
This award is for the best use of the audio format in the form of a podcast that meets journalistic or entertainment standards for their intended audience, The podcast entry can be in a a variety of formats that includes, but is not restricted to – episodes, radio shows and news broadcasts.
(This award is only available in the news division)

10. Best Academic Project
This awards goes to the Academic institution whose publishing and journalism faculties can submit the work of students for judging in special award. This may in the form of website, magazine (print or digital) and/or articles. The project must have at least a 50% digital component to be eligible and can include print submissions as part of the entry.
(This award is only available in the business division)

11. 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.
(This award is only available in the Business and Consumer divisions)

12. 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.
(This award is available in all divisions)

13. 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.
(This award is available in all divisions)

14. 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, sponsored and print/traditional media. It must be at least 50% digital to be eligible. 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.
(This award is only available in the Business and Consumer content divisions)

15. Best Web site (8 awards available)
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. Technical design elements that will also be evaluated include, but is not restricted to, ease of navigation, click fatigue, download speeds and user friendliness.

Eight Best Website awards will be awarded to Trade Media and Association websites in the Business division; Woman’s Service, Men’s Service and Small Niche in the Consumer division; and News, Radio and Community News websites in the News division.

16. Best Digital Publication
This award goes to the digital magazine or publication that provides the best reading experience on a desktop and/or tablet device that goes beyond the digital replica. The use of interactive features such as videos and 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. Publishers that have print editions can submit copies of their publication for comparison as part of their entry to COPAs, 8-1606 Sedlescomb Drive, Mississauga ON, L4X 1M6
(This award is only available in the Business and Consumer content divisions)

17. Best Multiplatform Publishing Solution
This goes to the publishing solution that provides an omni-channel experience for their audience on the television, radio, desktop, tablet, smartphone and print. A true omni-channel experience requires that traditional media such as television, radio and print experiences be part of the judging evaluation. The solution must have at least a 50% digital component and does not need to have all channels.
(This award is available in all divisions)

Best Content of the Year (Category 1 - 9)
Best Digital Solution of the year (Category 15 -17)
Independent Publisher of the Year
Regional Awards – Four Regional winner/finalists will be announced for each Best Canada award – West (BC, AB, MN, SK, NWT), Ontario, Quebec, and Maritimes.

Entry fee: $115 for single entry based on one entry per category. There is also an early bird discount of $95 available, for all entries submitted by Friday, June 3. This fee does not include HST.

Special discount for Independent publishers and Non-Profits
Independent publishers (20 employees or less) and non-profit institutions are eligible to enter at the early bird discount rate of $95 at any time. They must be registered as an independent publisher/non-profit 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. Multilple entries can be entered with a single payment. 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 Friday, July 15, 2016. The Early Bird Deadline is Friday, June 3.


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 2016

4. When is the deadline to submit entries?
All entries must be uploaded to the competition website no later than midnight on Friday, July 15, 2016, 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 entry. 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 2016.

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.

9. What happens when there are less than five entries in a category? Is this a true competition?
All entries must meet a minimum score of 75% from all the judges to be considered a finalist. The top 5 in each category are finalists when there are sufficient entries. This rule enables good work to be recognized in case of a small number of entries.



K. Siu

S. Maich

C. Schmidt

J. Bradley

J. Cameron
Gold Awards
Silver Awards
Finalist Awards
Feb 1, 2017 >> Call for Judges
May 1, 2017 >> Call for Entries
June 9, 2017 >> Early Bird Deadline
July 14, 2017 >> Entry Deadline
Sept 18, 2017 >> Finalist Announcement
Nov 13, 2017 >> Awards Event @ DoubleTree by Hilton Downtown