Five ways to scale video

Are squirrel surfing videos hilarious? Yes, according to M. Scott Havens, Bloomberg Media’s Global Head of Digital – but they’re not good business for publishers. To build successful, scalable business models,  publishers and content creators need to produce premium quality video that springs from a defined editorial mission and meets audience demand, he said at the Digiday Video Anywhere Summit in Palm Beach.

To do that, publishers need to embrace both traditional media and the leading edge. They need to take into account both the content that matters most to audiences and the technology that creates the best user experience. And they need to figure out how advertisers can get involved in new ways that feel engaging and organic for audiences and sponsors alike.

Havens should know: Bloomberg Media has scaled its own digital video business to the tune of about 20 million unique viewers per month and 184 million streams in February 2016, according to comScore Video Metrix. “Three quarters of our big clients have video as part of their programs, so it’s very important to us,” he said.

His five key takeaways for the Summit’s audience include some surprises:

1. Traditional media can set you free.

Legacy media offers unexpected advantages. “We are really leveraging our traditional platforms to grow our video,” he noted. “Not everybody has that – and when we compete against other people, digital natives, it’s a huge benefit to have hundreds of clips every single day. We’ve got a team who is literally watching, and clipping up, meta-tagging and providing those clips to our digital editorial team to run within articles. In addition to the work they do [on digital original videos].

“The TV team, which is a large, global team, provides a lot of tech expertise, a focus on quality content, execution, operations logistics – they really are a helpful group to work with, and we collaborate very very closely. We would not have the type of success that we’ve had without them.”

2. Talented digital natives transform your capabilities.

Complementing the television team is a critical group: the digital natives. “This is the group that is helping us scale the audience across the web,” Havens said. “We’ve built a team of social editors, and video producers and product folks who understand the new platforms, who understand what’s going on with Facebook and Snapchat, who understand OTT; and together, that combination is incredibly important.”

3. Go to the high end.

Bringing high quality content to your audiences is “where publishers need to go,” said Havens. A good example can be found in Bloomberg’s recently debuted series Hello World, which features Bloomberg Businessweek tech writer Ashlee Vance traveling around the world to find inspiring, exceptional technology. “This lies at the sweet spot of our editorial mission, our audience’s desires – the concepts they want to see –  and our advertisers desires to be aligned with great high quality content,” Havens told the Digiday Summit audience. “What’s great about Hello World is we shot it with a digital team, and we’re going to run it both on the web and on TV. It’s a great example of how we’re doing high quality series that can run across multiple platforms.” The series also incorporates Snapchat – a first for the platform.

4. Use your data.

“Right now publishers pull a lot of data, but we don’t use it very effectively,” said Havens. “I think we are getting schooled by the big tech platforms. If I follow 20-30 stocks or companies or people, why don’t I have  a customized experience on Television? You will – that’s something on our roadmap – but right now you don’t. And how can I connect that platform with web, OTT, app? What we’re trying to do is harness first party data to provide a much, much better experience for our audiences and for our advertisers.”

5. Think product.

A premium experience goes hand in hand with premium content – a successful formula luxury retailers discovered long ago, that publishers can learn from: “I don’t think we spend enough time, as an industry, thinking about the product itself,” he said. “I mean the OVP, the player, the landing page – how does it work in app, auto play, vertical video, all those things. We’re focused on testing a bunch of new things, we’re focused on making sure that our platform is cutting edge; we’re pushing that forward.”

Havens hinted that at Bloomberg’s upcoming IAB NewFronts event – to be held in New York and simulcast live to 8 US cities May 2 – he would reveal more on this last takeaway, including new ad capabilities that offer more interesting, engaging advertising experiences for both users and sponsors.  We’ll share more from that event as it happens!

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– Jen Robinson | April 11, 2016