Three insights on publishing and video from Bloomberg Media COO Jacki Kelley

Entertainers, creatives and media executives gathered in New York last week for Variety’s annual Entertainment and Technology Summit. A group of top publishing leaders that included Bloomberg Media COO Jacki Kelley – as well as Time Inc. Entertainment, Sports and Video President Rich Battista, Vox Media President Marty Moe, and Facebook Head of Industry, Entertainment Gwen Throckmorton – sat down with Variety Managing Editor Cynthia Littleton to talk about the state of video – from storytelling to metrics to ad partnerships.

Bloomberg Media COO Jacki Kelley speaks at the Variety Entertainment and Technology Summit in New York.

Here are three thought-provoking insights shared by Kelley during the conversation:

1.  “Video” isn’t monolithic, any more than “content” is.
As several panelists observed, the word “video” covers a broad range of productions, from 6-second Snapchat messages to long-form series and everything in between.  Triangulating the forms video can take with the platforms it can appear on and the audiences it’s aiming to find is a complex task. It requires a flexible approach and an appreciation for context – across sites, platforms, media types, audiences.

So how is that playing out in practice? “At Bloomberg, it’s interesting because we have both a global television network and a dedicated digital team, and they intersect,” Kelley said. “We’re creating digital originals that will air closer to 60 seconds, and we’re also doing 22 or 28 minute episodes that originate on digital but can air on the linear TV network. What we’ve seen is the [TV and digital] editorial teams coming together and thinking less about the platform to begin with, but then collaborating to address how viewers respond to different platforms.”  

“What we’ve seen is the editorial teams coming together and thinking less about the platform to begin with, but then collaborating to address how viewers respond to different platforms.”  -Jacki Kelley, COO, Bloomberg Media

2. Custom content is now produced with all the same concerns as editorial content. When the conversation turned to branded video, it emerged that creating video for your site’s audience isn’t really different from creating video for your advertising partners – except for the teams who produce it. “Almost all publishers are now creating content for advertisers alongside editorial content,” Kelley noted, “and it’s the same thought process that goes into it.”

Issues such as how content works across platforms, production values and audience analytics are all taken into consideration by Bloomberg’s custom content team (now known as Kinection, as announced at Bloomberg’s IAB NewFront event last week), just as they are by the editorial teams. “It’s an area where we’re just beginning to see where we can take it,” said Kelley.

3.  Storytelling for advertisers can bring value to premium audiences. Kelley offered two examples of how publishers can help create content for advertisers that ultimately benefits audiences.  That doesn’t mean blurring any lines: “Our position is that we never want to confuse our end user – that’s not good for us or for the advertiser,” she observed. What it does mean is ensuring that advertisers’ stories earn time spent, delivering useful information or enhancing understanding.

In the first example, Bloomberg applied its unique data visualization capabilities to break down the complex issues surrounding risk management for Zurich, a global insurance provider. The result was a set of compelling stories with clear takeaways for business audiences.

In the second example, Kelley detailed the custom video Bloomberg’s team will produce for tech client Cisco, which will accompany Bloomberg’s new series “Big Problems, Big Thinkers” (also announced at last week’s NewFront). “The series interviews everybody from the Dalai Lama to Warren Buffett – really big thinkers on big problems like climate, education, and poverty,” Kelley said. “Cisco will have custom ads running, and it’s very clear that it’s not part of the content, and yet the custom video is about technology, and how technology is helping to solve some of these issues.” Which, in turn, as Kelley observed, delivers additional knowledge and perspective to audiences.

Read next: Rethinking digital video for business audiences

– Jen Robinson | May 10, 2016