‘The Evolution of Sales’: How Bloomberg Media Is Getting Closer to Advertisers

Brand health studies are driving revenue growth for the media firm

a heart and bag of money on a scale
Brand health studies are leading to more revenue at Bloomberg Media. Getty Images
Headshot of Lucinda Southern

Bloomberg Media is cozying up to its advertisers to drive deeper working relationships. So far, it’s bearing fruit.

Since 2018, the media company has used one of the more commonplace tools in marketers’ armory—brand health studies—to identify brands’ strengths and weaknesses. This forms the basis for how Bloomberg builds content programs and communications strategies to change perception.

The approach has won new clients and grown campaign size, according to the media company, and is a contributing factor to growing its ad revenue by more than two-thirds in Q3 year-over-year. 

Bloomberg Media claims this brand health study is more in depth than one these companies might carry out themselves. The study, done annually in February in the U.S. for the past three years, looks at 600 brands. This year, it was expanded to Europe, surveying more than 5,000 people across 188 brands in the U.K., France, Italy and Germany; 114 of the brands in the European study can also be compared with perceptions in the U.S. The brands are plotted on a graph, showing how they measure up to competitors, and scored across five main categories.

“This is about the evolution of sales and what is important right now,” said Duncan Chater, head of sales for Europe. “Sales is moving even more to a consultative approach; salespeople need to be able to understand our customer and offer real value to them. This is a tool that salespeople need in order to be more consultative.” 

During a year fraught with uncertainty, clients yearn for more audience data and value a smaller number of close, trusted publisher partners. This study is one tactic Bloomberg uses to drive longer-term working relationships with advertisers. When times are tough, it’s easy to stop spending on programmatic ads, but with more consultative partnerships, publishers can divert spend to their different owned and operated platforms rather than cancel a campaign. 

An exception to the rule

Privately held Bloomberg Media is finishing out a strong year. According to the publisher, ad revenue for Europe in the third quarter was up 68% year-over-year, with digital ad revenue rising 87%. New opportunities have increased 11.5% in 2020, Chater said. So far, it has made this brand health data available to 50 of the companies in the study (the information is not a paid service).

Bloomberg Media may be the exception to the rule in a number of ways, as a healthy multibillion-dollar business thanks to its terminal data and wealthy owners to cushion it from the sharper edges of economic downturn. Look at the broader picture, however, compared with Google and Facebook, news brands are fighting it out over table scraps: Newspapers are expected to receive 4.8% of global media spend next year (excluding political ad spend), according to GroupM’s forecast, while digital will capture 61%. 

Bloomberg Media’s advertising approach is relatively client specific, making it hard to compare with forecasts and outlooks from media agencies with visibility over hundreds of clients, said Martin Galvin, GroupM’s trading director, calling Bloomberg Media’s ad spend “trend-bucking.”

“When you speak with [news publishers], they say, ‘There’s no way we will have any business without some form of ads in the future,’” Galvin said. “There is long-term trust and resilience compared with the dramatic short-term reactions to Covid.”

A ‘level of confidence’ 

Bloomberg’s brand studies focus on five key metrics, with the first three addressing the brands’ future potential:

@Lucy28Southern lucinda.southern@adweek.com Lucinda Southern is Adweek's media editor.