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2020 Content Marketing Awards Winners Aspire and Deliver Big Results

Seeing all the amazing initiatives and outstanding creators highlighted in this year’s Content Marketing Awards, it’s clear that even the most challenging times aren’t stopping brands from delivering content experiences worth celebrating. 

They look for opportunities to reach new levels of business growth, drive creative and technical innovation, and deliver increased audience satisfaction. And they do this as our industries, our culture, and our media landscape evolve.

Even the most challenging times aren’t stopping brands from delivering #content experiences worth celebrating, says @EditorStahl via @CMIContent. #CMWorld Click To Tweet

Accomplishing the most aspirational of business goals with content is what the field of finalists and winners from the 2020 Content Marketing Awards proves possible regardless of the obstacles.

Now in their 16th year, the awards recognize the impressive accomplishments of content marketers in 77 categories that span strategy, distribution, editorial, and design. In all, the judges selected 85 winners from hundreds of submissions, including seven best-in-show prizes announced Oct. 14 at Content Marketing World:

If you’re looking to move your content in exciting new directions, check out the efforts produced by the 2020 Project of the Year winner, as well as a few of the category’s top finalists. Then learn the agency, branded content, and content marketer of the year winners.

Project of Year Winner: TURN ON – Das Saturn Magazin

Winner: Project of the Year, Best Content Marketing Program, Best Content Marketing Program in Retail

Finalist: Best Content Marketing Multi-Year Program

A big challenge for marketers is how to gain the trust and loyalty of younger audiences who are increasingly difficult to reach through traditional advertising channels and who block or skip online ads. To overcome this, Europe’s largest electronics retail chain – Saturn – developed a multi-platform content play that doesn’t just talk about the latest devices and doodads, it enables the audience to experience that technology and contribute their skills and style to the brand’s content conversations.

TURN ON – Das Saturn Magazin is created for and by members of this lucrative audience segment. Saturn gathered a team of 20 influential creative minds – including gamers, tech enthusiasts, binge watchers, and photographers – who live and breathe technology. These deeply engaged members of the Saturn online community serve as a hybrid focus group/storytelling team: Their interests and expertise drive the editorial. Their language sets the tone. Their online behaviors guide its channel strategy.

Not only has this approach benefited Saturn’s youth audience, it’s also been valuable for the brand’s promotional partners, such as Samsung, Microsoft, Bose, and Dyson. Instead of appearing as advertisers, they’re featured players in the community’s tech-driven stories.

In addition to the TURN ON print publication and website, Saturn has amassed engagement across its relevant social channels like YouTube, Instagram, and Twitter, leading to impressive and sustained marketing performance for both the brand and its partners. For example, in its content marketing campaign for a new Samsung Galaxy smartphone, users spent 4.6 million minutes with the product – even though the smartphone had been on the market five months. In addition, more than 1 million viewers watched the video on YouTube – 650,000 of them as a pre-roll ad served before other Saturn content.

Project of Year Finalist: ServiceNow: Workflow Quarterly

Winner: Best Content-Driven Website, Best New Digital Publication

Finalist: Best Content Marketing Program in Technology, Best Use of Original Research in Content Marketing, Best Technology Publication, Best Digital Publication, Best Overall Editorial – Digital, Best Cover Design, Project of the Year

Most corporate research is pitched to uninterested reporters or packaged up into PDFs that no one reads. With the help of content agency Message Lab, cloud computing platform ServiceNow showcased its research by creating a quarterly magazine ­– an extension of its successful Workflow thought leadership program – complete with deeply reported feature stories, videos, data-based self-assessments, and interactive graphics.

Workflow Quarterly engages C-level executives who want to better understand how technology is changing business. Each issue is organized under a theme and prominently features CEOs and CIOs talking about their personal experiences with workflow management.

Notably, ServiceNow follows a brand-agnostic content strategy – its products and deployments don’t enter the editorial picture. Rather, it firmly focuses on rich anecdotes and credible thinkers that educate and inspire executives to digitize more aspects of their business.

Another unique feature is how its performance is measured. As traditional metrics can’t surface the engagement data the company wanted, ServiceNow developed proprietary metrics around engagement goals and an approach to tagging and analytics that better surfaces value. For example, Workflow’s custom “attention” metric for measuring engaged time with content records on-page activity (scrolls, hovers, clicks) across single- and multi-page visits, eliminating the negative impact of bounce rates.

Project of the Year Finalist: Jetstar Magazine

Winner: Best Transportation Publication; Best Hospitality/Travel Publication

Finalist: Project of the Year

Jetstar magazine is a vital communication tool for Australia’s No. 2 domestic airline carrier – the only in-flight entertainment provided on many of its flights.

However, prior to 2019, the print publication had no digital counterpart. The magazine mainly reached travelers who had made their purchases. It did little to drive organic referrals to – a vital measure of marketing success in the travel and tourism industry – or to generate the revenue to ensure its future.

Facing a declining readership, the brand challenged agency Medium Rare to help reverse this trend and relaunch its content across an array of media platforms.

The team overlaid Jetstar passenger insights with organic search data from SEMrush (to understand the destinations and experiences people were looking for) and BuzzSumo (to understand what content was trending on social media). They also looked at travel trends and customer behavior reports from LS/N, Skift, and others.

The insights resulted in the development of the Jetstar Inspiration hub, as well as inspiring travel stories, tips, and videos for its Facebook page and other social channels. In addition, the print publication got a fresh new mix of content features appealing to experience-hungry young travelers – including fast-paced listicles, bolder images, and mini-stories on hacks and trends.

The initiative succeeded on multiple marketing fronts:

  • Audience and engagement: 9% year-over-year increase in readership to 267,000 – the highest increase in the airline category and the highest readership Jetstar had seen in at least five years
  • Revenue and ROI: In nine months (through June 2019), the team increased sales revenue by 12% over the previous 12 months – all the while building teams and implementing new procedures and initiatives.
  • Organic referrals: Increased 150%, and flight searches resulting from its content increased 13%

Project of the Year Finalist: Santander Consumer Bank Denmark

Winner: Content Marketing ROI/Measurement Program

Finalist: Project of the Year

In spring 2018, agency Brand Movers worked with Santander Consumer Bank Denmark to launch Magasinet – a content hub aimed at refreshing the bank’s image, driving site traffic, and building an audience. The initial collection of articles, videos, and infographics delivered need-to-know finance information and gave the bank a solid foundation to build on – which it did in 2020 by expanding its strategic focus.

This year, these marketing partners expanded the value of Magasinet from a pure branding play to a lead-generation engine and sales enablement tool by adding more bottom-funnel content, lead-nurturing flows that drive traffic to converting pages, and more conversion-oriented keywords and calls to action.

The effort paid off. By creating an always-on presence and powering it with valuable content, strong SEO, and measurable business targets, the content program continued to crush Santander’s marketing and business goals. Here are a few of those achievements:

  • A unique visitor conversion rate of 1.93% mirrors the conversion rate of the bank’s traditional bottom-funnel activities like search engine marketing.
  • Loan applications submitted by content hub users are 27% above target.
  • Newsletter sign-ups reached 107% above the monthly target.
  • In May 2020, Magasinet’s organic traffic was 300% above 2019’s average monthly organic traffic.

Project of the Year Finalist: All Things Hair

Winner: Best Content Strategy

Finalist: Project of the Year

There’s no shortage of online content available to consumers eager to keep up with professional styling trends and the latest DIY techniques and products. But Unilever’s All Things Hair stands out by taking a raw, emotional, and holistic content approach that supports its audience members through every step of their hair-care journey – not just the transactional decisions, but the emotional ones, too.

The All Things Hair storytelling platform is based upon a deep understanding of what information hair-obsessed audiences search for and how they conduct those searches. The program kicked off in 2018 with original research, which found that inspiration searches (e.g., hairstyles) had increased dramatically, but the preferred content destinations were media and beauty sites, not brands.

Surmising that consumers wanted brand agnostic advice that felt both empowering and attainable, Unilever worked with Green Park Content in 2019 to develop an expanded platform of authentic editorial written by selected beauty editors and hair-savvy community members without any direct influence or overt product promotion from the brand.

Each piece is carefully crafted, expertly photographed, and meticulously positioned to ensure that All Things Hair stays at the forefront of trends and people’s minds. Relatable themes, an uninhibited, inclusive voice, and a consistent look and feel across its distribution platforms – including its website, YouTube channel, and Instagram page – ensures an ecosystem that appeals to the audience and drives increased organic and referral traffic, as well as time on site.

By the fourth quarter of 2019, the program had become a huge triumph, sending millions to the hair care hub and growing traffic 101% over the previous quarter. In total, 35 million page views were generated by the end of 2019, and the exposure to Unilever products across the site demonstrated that halo effect to the hair category and its brand portfolio.

Keep your eyes on these content creators

The CMI team also congratulates all the amazing agencies that took top honors this year, as well as the inspiring marketers recognized as finalists and winners of our B2B and B2C Content Marketer of the Year awards. We’ll feature many of their innovative examples in the coming months.

Winners announced this week from the Content Marketing World stage:

Agency of the Year (fewer than 100 employees)

Winner:  Imprint 


Agency of the Year (more than 100 employees)

Winner:  SJR


Best B2B Branded Content Campaign 

Winner: Behind the Scenes with the Storytellers – PhotoShelter


Best B2C Branded Content Campaign

Winner:  Not All ’99s Are Equal – 256 Content (Irish Life)


B2B Content Marketer of the Year 

Winner: John Ville – editorial director, Atlassian


  • Tricia Carey – director of global business development – Denim, Lenzing
  • Kristin Twiford – content marketing director, PhotoShelter

B2C Content Marketer of the Year 

Winner: Bozoma Saint John, Luvvie Ajayi Jones, Glennon Doyle, Stacey Bendet, founders, #ShareTheMicNow, #KeepSharingTheMic


  • Jay Curley, global head of integrated marketing, Ben & Jerry’s
  • Wendy Zamora, director of content marketing, Malwarebytes

To learn the previously announced 2020 winners in the other categories, visit Content Marketing Awards.

Want to enter the 2021 Content Marketing Awards? Sign up for a reminder when entries open next year.

Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute