Rethinking digital video for business audiences

“With video on the web, the most important thing is that we meet the audience eye-to-eye. We want to have a conversation with the audience, not speak down to them or oversimplify things,” said Michael Shane, managing editor of Bloomberg Digital, in an interview last week with Nieman Lab, a website from Harvard University’s Nieman Foundation that reports on the future of news in the digital age.


As digital video continues to grow exponentially, and competition for consumers’ attention gets correspondingly fierce, content creators and viewers increasingly interact actively rather than passively. Digital video is bridging what was once an uncrossable divide. The sea change in media and marketing that’s been the result has been deeply explored for broad consumer audiences. But what does it mean for business audiences? Do they behave differently? What do they seek, and how can they best be served?

Some important clues come from a survey Bloomberg Media conducted among 724 business / financial news consumers in the U.S. in 2015. Key results included:

  • 68% said great business video creates experiences text alone can’t. In other words, “show, don’t tell” is an especially powerful mantra for business video.
  • 70% look for video that explains topics in a new way. Explainer video helps business audiences get smarter, faster.

Watch: Bloomberg Quicktake on why the US warmed up to Cuba

  • 80% said smart business video filters what’s most important, right now – and 70% use it to stay up to date on important trends. Decision-makers don’t have time to consume everything.

Watch: Bloomberg Gadfly on the Tesla Model 3 hype

  • For 77%, story matters more than length. Story leads engagement that trumps time challenges.
  • More than 60% said video enhances experience and understanding; 83% said the best video gives them a fresh view of something they thought they knew. They want to see what’s happening where they’re not, and be surprised by the unexpected.

Watch: Hello World Episode 1 Bloomberg’s new tech-and-travel show. First stop: New Zealand

Bloomberg’s global web video team, a pioneer in the industry with one of the first dedicated digital video desks established, has expanded to five cities. Video traffic has also grown: Bloomberg held the #1 and #2 positions in comScore’s global business and finance video category for seven months in 2015, and as of January, our unique video viewers had more than doubled (to 21 million) over the preceding 15 months. 

That success follows a unique understanding of digital video through a business lens – and  a digital-native awareness of video as a conversation. Shane also highlighted this in the Nieman Lab interview: “With the web, you have to think about what message the audience is sending you when watching your video,” he said. “The viewer has chosen to participate, so it’s a more active kind of viewing. We’re keeping that in mind throughout the entire creation process.”


 – Jen Robinson | April 4, 2016