Vox Media, CNN, Ellen Digital Network and more are this year’s Digiday Publishing Awards winners

CNN, Ellen Digital Network, NBA, National Geographic and Bustle are among the winners for this year’s Digiday Publishing Awards, which recognize the companies’ efforts in modernizing digital media. Winners were announced at the Digiday Publishing Awards Gala at the Tribeca Rooftop in Manhattan. Standup comedian and writer Alex English was the evening’s host. 

Vox Creative is this year’s winner for Best Content Studio. Established in 2014, Vox Creative is the custom content branch of Vox Media, responsible for creating custom content on all eight Vox Media properties. It leverages the analytics and ad units present in Vox Media’s sites to create content that that fits in with the surrounding editorial coverage. It has done work for advertisers such as Jeep, XBox, Mailchimp, Walmart and many more.

CNN Worldwide won Best Brand Safety Strategy. News content presents a unique challenge for brand safety technology due to the variable nature of news content and the need for constant updates. To solve this challenge, CNN created a proprietary Sentiment Analysis Moderator, or SAM. Launched in beta in October 2018, the technology verifies human traffic to its digital platforms and employs advanced contextual keyword tagging.

Ellen Digital Network is the winner for Most Influential Publishing Community. To create a dialogue with its passionate fans, it went beyond the daily TV broadcast to online. Viewers can go to ellentube.com to submit their own videos, watch performances from the show, donate to special causes and more.

Learn more about each winner below. If you’re interested in applying for next year, sign up here to receive reminders about submission deadlines.

Best Brand Partnership
Uber & Girlboss – “Uber Pitch
In 2018, female-founded startups received only 2.2% of the estimated $130 billion venture capital pie. Ride hailing app Uber and digital media platform Girlboss set out to change that statistic. They invited female founders to pitch their companies to a panel of female founders from Away, Drybar and more, and Uber awarded over $200,000 to three winners.

Best Branded Content Program – B2B
OppenheimerFunds & Quartz – “The New Global Economy”
To bring awareness to its global investment offerings, global asset manager OppenheimerFunds partnered with news site Quartz on a video series called “The New Global Economy,” which highlighted international investment opportunities outside the United States, most notably China’s growing e-commerce giants.

Best Branded Content Program – B2C
Vox Media – Ford’s “Home of the Future
Auto manufacturer Ford turned to Vox Creative, Vox Media’s custom content arm, to introduce its F-150 truck to Vox Media’s tech-savvy and design-led readership. Vox Creative built a pre-fabricated smart home that featured digital innovations present in the truck, accompanied by a branded content series on Vox Media sites The Verge and Curbed to highlight DIY projects inspired by the truck’s design features.

Best Custom Advertising
NBA, Spark Foundry & Arkadium – 2018-19 NBA Tip-Off
NBA tip-off marks the start of basketball season. To drive tune-in at the start of the 2018-19 season, the NBA turned to media agency Spark Foundry and ad tech company Arkadium to serve digital ads in editorially relevant content across the internet. The interactive creative let users shoot from a player’s hot zone from the season prior against that evening’s specific opponent.

Best Live Event
The Infatuation – EEEEEATSCON
Since 2017, restaurant review site The Infatuation has produced EEEEEATSCON (a reference to its signature social media hashtag #eeeeeats), a two-day food experience featuring local restaurants as well as imports from around the world. The day also includes panels with chefs and restaurateurs, plus live performances. In 2018, over 7,000 people descended on New York’s Forest Hills Stadium for the event.

Best Millennial Publisher
Bustle Digital Group
Bustle was initially founded in 2013 as an online destination aimed at millennial women, covering fashion, beauty, celebrity news and dating. Since then, the brand has become a holding company for eight diverse brands covering music, news, parenthood, fashion, wellness and more: Bustle, Elite Daily, Flavorpill Media, Gawker, Mic, Romper, The Zoe Report and its most recent acquisition, The Outline.

Best Mobile Innovation
NBC News & Code and Theory – NBC News
NBC News turned to design agency Code and Theory to completely redesign its flagship sites NBCNews.com, MSNBC.com, and Today.com. The new design allows editors to showcase big stories, and distribute more traffic across the NBC brands.

Best Overall Design
Insider Inc.
To enhance its brand, Insider Inc. — the publisher of daily news site Business Insider — undertook its first redesign of the BI homepage in 10 years. The result? A new site design that is both responsive and consistent across platforms. 

Best Paid Subscription/Membership Product
Bodybuilding.com – All-Access
In order to capture its gym-going audience with a low-cost option, fitness website Bodybuilding.com launched its All-Access membership. The membership tier includes over 60 comprehensive fitness programs that users can follow at the gym, allowing them to track progress.

Best Use of Audience Data
AlJazeera English – AJLabs’ 2017 News Quiz
In 2017 AJLabs, Al Jazeera’s digital team, wanted to round off the year in news with a news quiz. But instead of creating a simple quiz, AJLabs created a 360-video experience that would reward readers for their knowledge of 2017’s big stories with stamps in a virtual passport. After the user completed the game, they would be prompted to complete an audience survey. AJLabs received over 10,000 completed survey responses over the 10-day period from Dec. 22 to Dec. 31, 2017.

Best Use of Snapchat
Group Nine Media – The Dodo
The Dodo is the only dedicated animal publisher on Snap Discover. Through its daily channel, three weekly shows and Snapchat-specific content, The Dodo aimed to increase the amount of time users spend watching content on the app.

Best Use of Technology
MTV International – 2018 MTV EMA AR Experience
The Europe Music Awards, or EMAs, are one of the biggest global music events in the world. To drive viewers to the dedicated EMA app, MTV created an augmented reality experience where viewers could vote for their favorite musicians by creating virtual statues of them — in keeping with that year’s theme of art and design.

Best Use of Voice
Slate Studios, American Airlines, British Airways, Visit Britain & Wavemaker – “I Travel For
“I Travel For” is a custom podcast series following American travelers as they explore Great Britain. But there’s a catch: instead of following an itinerary, the travelers can only meet with locals who then show them sights that they would not otherwise experience.

Best User Experience
American Hometown Media – Recipe Box Plug-In
Recipes are the lifeblood of food media. After eight years of development, digital media and food technology company American Hometown Media has opened up its proprietary Recipe Box plugin technology to outside publishers. Now, food blogs, sites and publishers can add a cloud-based storage solution to their site, giving users the ability to store recipes from anywhere on the web in one location.

Best Video Series
The Washington Post – “Should I Freeze My Eggs?
This eight-part video series followed Washington Post reporter Nicole Ellis as she explored the possibility of freezing her eggs in order to delay motherhood. Beyond chronicling one woman’s journey, the series also shined a light on the players in the egg-freezing industry, the science behind egg-freezing and women’s reproductive health more generally.

Most Modern Legacy Brand
National Geographic
The 131-year-old nature publisher amplified their magazine content through cross-platform storytelling. One execution was The Okavango Experience, a 360-degree virtual reality experience that brought viewers to the Okavango Delta in northern Botswana. Over four episodes, viewers saw the delta at night and came face to face with Africa’s most famous wildlife.

Publishing Executive of the Year
Josh Jaffe, General Manager, Horoscope.com Inc. 
Josh Jaffe joined 20-year-old site Horoscope.com in 2016 and immediately prioritized a digital refresh. Under Jaffe’s direction, a team was assembled that prioritized a modern web design, a new CMS, expanded video offerings and an editorial strategy that did not rely on social media distribution.


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