Bloomberg Media CEO Justin B. Smith outlines the future of media

The future of profitable media companies won’t be found in being everything to everyone: it will be in serving, informing and engaging as directly as possible with a distinct audience, says Bloomberg Media CEO Justin B. Smith.

“I believe the future of profitable media is going to be in far more targeted, niche, more contained segment-focused media plays. I’d say to all those people who are chasing scale: think hard about it because that game is a really, really tough game,” he told Digiday’s EIC Brian Morrissey at the Digiday Publishing Summit in Vail, Colorado.


Photo by Andrey Rudakov/Bloomberg

This strategic thinking has informed Bloomberg Media’s focus on becoming the leading global multi-platform business media company, providing news and insight to an audience of business and financial customers. This approach has kept the focus on Bloomberg’s multiple owned platforms, while other publishers are increasingly betting their futures on platforms like Facebook. While social platforms offer the allure of large audiences, Smith questioned the long term business model reality for publishers of the distributed media approach.

“One of the reasons that media is suffering at the hands of the platforms is that platforms are doing media better than media does media,” he said.

Smith urged publishers to consider the ramifications of going all-in.

“The rush to these platforms needs to be paused for a second. People need to consider what’s really happening here. It’s not that it’s pure doomsday scenario, but rather a call for caution and really sensible, data-driven and logic-based analysis about where this is all going to lead,” Smith said.

But how will media companies compete and profit in such a crowded digital space? Smith highlighted two ways: create workplaces where talented people thrive and focus on idea-driven commercial partnerships.

"What we’ve been doing with our team at Bloomberg over the last two years is digitizing the enterprise at scale. And doing that in I think the most powerful way is doing that through talent transformation,” said Smith. “We’re finding that if you can create highly entrepreneurial, fast-moving, nimble, cultures and environments–which Bloomberg is because it’s a privately held company–you actually can compete really effectively for some of the best, best native digital talent.”

He went on to say: “So what we’re doing is what might potentially be a startup’s biggest nightmare: a very, very big company with a very, very big global brand that reaches 55 million people around the world that is operating like a native, digital company.”


Photo by Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg

Owning multiple platforms allows Bloomberg’s sales and marketing organization the opportunity to focus on ideas and creativity.

“We have a very multi-platform media company, so one of our greatest differentiators is the fact that we work across television, radio, print, magazines and so on. The value of our sales force and marketing force is going to be in the creative activation of these different channels, the linkages between them and how that can relate to our advertising partner’s message,” he said.

– Shannon Doubleday | March 31, 2016