The Drum: Bloomberg APAC marketing lead: Brands continue to seek out storytelling with a purpose

By Shawn Lim – September 29, 2021

The Covid-19 pandemic has seen the advertising market evolve, with many new types of advertiser joining the fray. The Drum speaks to Sunita Rajan, the managing director for media sales and marketing for Asia Pacific at Bloomberg, about how the publisher is dealing with this change.

Since joining Bloomberg Media from CNN International in January 2021 as the managing director for media sales and marketing for Asia Pacific, Sunita Rajan has taken charge of the publisher’s regional sales and marketing organizations driving cross-platform initiatives, as well as leading the expansion of Bloomberg Media’s marketing service offerings.

Rajan has also spent time identifying new opportunities for growth and engagement to connect clients with Bloomberg Media’s audience of business decision-makers and leaders.

The Drum catches up with Rajan to find out how she is preparing the publisher for the future of media.

Time on the job

While Bloomberg is well known for its media company, its desktop terminal used in the financial markets, and philanthropy by its founder Michael Bloomberg, Rajan’s role is to explain how “brand Bloomberg” is not just a media brand, but also a data and technology company, to the market.

“As a media company, we cover the news. We publish over 5,000 stories daily. And we have got the largest newsroom in the world, 2,700 journalists, of which a big portion are based in Asia, across the region, which is significant both because we have boots on the ground, but also because of the number of stories that we publish daily, and the number of videos that are uploaded every single day,” she explains.

“Going beyond the news, it is really about our purpose-driven content. Bloomberg, as an organization, has not just started telling that story yesterday or today, or more recently. It’s been a commitment and an editorial mission, and very much a deep investment in telling the equality story.

“Equality is not just about gender or race, but really about action and change for moving toward an equitable future. We want to engage companies, individuals, corporations and business leaders around what it is going to take to move toward that kind of equitable future.”

The focus on purpose-driven content means Bloomberg’s content pillars such as Bloomberg Green, Bloomberg Technology and Bloomberg Equality all have an important role to play.

“Bloomberg Equality is one of the platforms that we launched in the last couple of years, which is unique for Bloomberg, particularly given the last couple of years that have made the world stop and take notice. We have been powering on with our editorial mission and direction,” explains Rajan.

“The conversation around the Paris Agreement is getting more important, with COP26 coming up in November. As the Paris Agreement was about purpose and making bold statements in the area of sustainability, COP26 is about climate action and what we need to do about climate change.”

“This led us to form Bloomberg Green, a news website covering climate science, environmental impacts, zero-emission technology, and green finance. If you go to Bloomberg Green, the Bloomberg Green Data Dash gives you a dynamic scorecard and real-time updates on carbon-free energy, air pollution, and tracking the loss of trees. It is just to keep people honest and to make our consumers and our audiences aware of what is going on in the world of environment, society, and also governance.”

Educating Bloomberg to brands

To educate chief marketing officers about Bloomberg, the publisher launched a brand marketing campaign called Inventing Possibilities in 2020 to showcase its brand values.

This allows the publisher to go to chief marketers and decision-makers at a macro level to explain the possibilities that Bloomberg has for brands to connect with its audiences, and for the publisher to be a unique partner.

“Our brand campaign and many possibilities are content that consumers experience. We’ve had exceptionally strong uptake in our subscriptions for as well, including in APAC, particularly in the last couple of years,” Rajan says.

“More users want to pay for the product, subscribe to it, receive our newsletters, consume the content and engage with it. In our very fragmented media marketplace, where you get many sources of news, the proposition that Bloomberg represents and quality of content are sought after.

“Our proof of concept, if you like, gives the market a flavor of what Bloomberg stands for, and what we bring to the table. It is an ongoing journey, educating the market.”

Bloomberg’s vision of the future of media

Like many other businesses, the Covid-19 pandemic has impacted the live events business and ad revenues as physical events came to a halt and marketers cut back on ad spending.

However, Bloomberg has pivoted to virtual events, which it claims has seen a record year for Bloomberg Live as a business, and revenue has grown five times in the last 18 months. It has also seen record growth across advertising revenue subscriptions, with close to over 50% year-on-year growth.

It is forging ahead with holding the New Economy Forum in November as a physical event in Singapore, working with the highest levels of government to make sure that it is respectful of the health and safety requirements and measures.

“You are not restricted to geographic boundaries when you go virtual. We had over 42,000 attendees at our Bloomberg Live events in 2020. This was from across 110 countries. The most important piece is the editorial storytelling, the agenda, the curation of the agenda, the speakers, the panelists,” says Rajan.

“Pivoting quickly, we were able to deliver an even more enriched customer experience and brand experience. We have had several brands that came to us, and have worked with us, and continue to work with us in our events business.

“From an advertising point of view, the market has certainly bounced back. While a number of the countries are operating in a kind of either lockdown or hybrid situation, that has not stopped business from engaging. Brand marketers want to seek out brands who they can trust, and where they feel their partnerships are aligned, in terms of the values of the two organizations, and the accountability that they can get from their marketing dollars.”

Rajan believes the market has evolved with many new types of advertisers, and the media market has also changed. Brands are now looking at investing in ESG, cryptocurrency and fintech.

While the value proposition is now looked at very differently, she says content and data are still at the heart of it, whether it is brands wanting to tell their stories differently, with purpose, or whether that is brands working with Bloomberg to help tell their story.

“There are three Rs that I use quite often in every meeting: recovery, rebound, reboot, or resilience, depending on who you’re talking to. Brands continue to seek out trusted partners and media brands that would deliver not just accountability, but the storytelling with a purpose. Because that’s what consumers are looking for. There’s so much out there, so much content out there.”

She concludes: “There are a lot of positives and I am cautiously optimistic. I can only hope that we do not have another surge, another variant. We cannot predict those things, but as we sit here today, and given the momentum, and given the rhythm that I am seeing across the region, there certainly is a positive outlook for 2022.”