May 4, 2023
In 2022 Bloomberg Media CEO M. Scott Havens announced the company’s shift to an Audience-First mentality with every action and decision the teams make, by investing the time to understand our customers across every platform we operate and to focus on building features, products and businesses that super-serve them. The new blog series, “How We’re Keeping Our Audience First” written by the teams implementing this mandate, will help show how Bloomberg Media is better serving our users.
The first of this series explains how Bloomberg Media’s advertising product and innovation teams are creating a better ad experience on Bloomberg.com.
By Jacqueline O’Neill, Ad Product & Innovation
For the last several years, the trends in the digital publishing industry have been focused on answering the questions: “Where can I get more impressions?” or “Where can we place videos for more video views?” In other words, the volume of impressions has ruled the publisher world for the past 30 years as the sign of maximizing revenue and performance.
Here at Bloomberg Media, we decided to start asking ourselves the hard questions: “How does this extra ad impact our users?” and “What is the impact of video ads versus images.” Not only did we ask ourselves, we polled our subscribers – and the message was consistent, our ads were disrupting them from consuming more content.
So, when we took on the work to improve our ad experience, we looked for opportunities to make a better experience for users that creates better value for our advertisers. When ads help create a more premium experience that is good for our users and good for our advertisers. There are four pillars to this strategy of how we upleveled the experience for both:
- Focus our delivering premium advertising and turning off open supply advertising
- Optimize our ad placement to be performance players vs impression volume
- Create the ability to target a specific audience with confidence through Audience Accelerator, our first party data product
- Create premium KPI (key performance indicator) driven advertising products at scale that match the consumer behavior by platform
Part 1 – Clean up Supply
First in the clean up was the turning off of our open auction advertising across the website. This is somewhat unusual in the advertising world, but for our readers, it shows that our advertising experience and ads we create reflect the premium of our content and audience. We found that open auction was a disrupter to the user’s premium experience and by eliminating it, we are also re-assuring our advertisers the best way to transact and see performance is directly through our teams.
Part 2 – Ad placements as position players
A big commitment we started with was the decision to remove the number of impressions per page. This removal was done strategically to determine which placements stay in areas that are driving key KPIs for ads, such as engagement, viewability and time in view.
We believe ads and content should live harmoniously and we looked at the places where that may not always be happening. We introduced a parallax functionality across desktop and mobile web providing a seamless scrolling of both the content and advertisement, leading to significantly more engagement from both users and benefit to our advertisers garnering a higher in view time.
Our view is that ad placements need to serve our advertisers as much as our users. Leveraging historical performance data and evaluating user behavior, we overhauled our positioning to improve viewability and ad engagement. Recently for our newest release, with our Custom Content team, is a unit that pushes glimpses of our custom content to our user in articles instead of pulling them to a landing page, driving viewable impressions of our robust Bloomberg Studios content.
Part 3 – Audience Accelerator
With the ultimate demise of the 3rd party cookie, we created a tool that allows advertisers to reach the premium audience with confidence via Audience Accelerator. Audience Accelerator leverages homegrown machine learning and natural language processing technology to power both precision and scale with 1,500+ proprietary first party segments. This proprietary tool quickly garnered significant demand from our advertisers.
Part 4- Proprietary Ad Creation Technology
One of the main goals of the ad experience project is to better leverage our Bloomberg-created ad units that interact natively within our platforms. Enter CORE, Create Once Reuse Everywhere, a new proprietary tool for Bloomberg Digital. CORE is an investment in our ad product suite to allow us to create KPI driven ad products that also protects our user experience. We solicit feedback from our users on what they want and do not want in an experience and our ad products should be guided by this to give advertisers the best possible experience on our platforms.
What is next?
This is just the start of our “Audience First” journey and many learnings still to be had. The focus of the Ad Product team is to create a valuable, premium ad experience based on how users are consuming our content via our various platforms.