Kevin Sharpless – Bloomberg

Kevin Sharpless – Bloomberg

Kevin Sharpless is Head of Marketing EMEA at Bloomberg Media Group. Bloomberg is a major global provider of 24-hour financial news and information, including real-time and historic price data, financial data, trading news, and analyst coverage, as well as general news and sports. Its services, which span its own platform, television, radio, and magazines, offer professional analysis tools for financial professionals. Kevin has a commercially focused role with a remit which oversees marketing activity, inclusive of insight, custom content studio and client solutions – the ideas people – who put together smart cross platform packages which appeal to a particular audience and answers the brief and objectives of Bloomberg’s clients.

What’s the main KPI for growth for your clients?
It is very varied.  A lot of our clients are introducing a new product, brand identity or company, often looking for brand awareness.  Elevating the profile of who they are, why they are different and why they add value to our audience – an audience of senior level business decision makers, financial decision makers and C suites – globally.  And sometimes that awareness spills into acquisition – they want to create market share and find new customers.  The ultimate KPI is to create revenue and that is always in the back of our minds.

Ideally those KPIs are set up ahead of the campaign.  One of the first questions should be how are we measuring and judging performance.  If we don’t understand the KPI very very clearly, the idea will suffer because of it – and I’ve seen it happen in the past, it’s one of the biggest mistakes in media.

Bloomberg offers a powerful audience, across platforms
From a media owner perspective, Bloomberg is all about audience first, and our ability to reach a significant motivated audience.  And we deliver a global view which is a great aspect of our offer and very important to our advertising partners.  We are a trusted partner – and very importantly, we are a cross platform partner.

The audience is moving very quickly.  Every day, they wake up like this, with their phone in front of their face – the mobile ritual – where they check their feeds, their email, their social.  Then they’ll flick on the TV, turn on the Bloomberg terminal at work, log on to  Their business moves quickly, and they need quick up to date and trustworthy information.  And for our brand partner marketers, capturing that audience where they are and how they prefer to consume content is vital – even down to tailoring the message according to the channel.

Data and Insight Play a Key Role
We commission surveys, interrogate data and have a portfolio of data and insight that helps us to deliver information and messages to our audience.

We have unique tools which help our partners and agencies to visualize and understand how people engage with content, such as our AIQ tool.  And we want media agencies to understand how they can use it and develop a media mix.  It is an ongoing conversation – and historically its been a reactive conversation, but we are getting a lot more proactive and can push out interesting elements we discovered and can talk to the wider about interesting insights we discovered.

Bloomberg Intelligence is 300+ researchers and analysts – they translate and put into context all that financial information for business decision makers and financial analysts.  As marketers we can tap into that and paint a picture for our brand partners to understand where they sit according to the data.  Data isn’t unique to anybody, but I believe the Bloomberg Intelligence angle is critical to our value proposition – being able to interpret that data for the benefit and action for our clients, and how we can turn that into and inform brand growth messages which are important to our audience to effect advocacy and consideration.

Data and Technology
We pride ourselves on expanding while others are retrenching.  So, Tic Toc by Bloomberg (ADD LINK) – the first 24/7 video news network on a social platform – is an example of how Bloomberg is adapting to the technology driven agenda which is essential to keep up with our audience.  That innovation through technology was driven by insight into the way the next generation of decision makers was consuming and wanted to consume their news and information.  We have a group mindset to build for the future and not rest on our laurels.

Trust is everything
Trust in the medium and brand safety comes up 99% of the time in conversations with our brand partners – it is of the utmost importance.  Our job as Bloomberg Media is to service the people who move markets and make laws and develop policy – we must have an unbiased presentation of news and have a responsibility to deliver it in the most trusted way possibly.  To your detriment and to the detriment of our audience.

What do you think about the mistakes in media Byron talks about?
Consistency, continuity and repetition of messages is vitally important when for instance you are introducing a new brand identity or a merger.  As we discussed earlier awareness and purpose of message is key.  You have to be constantly in front of the people who are making decisions.  But bursting has its place as well – if you want to make a statement, want to make an impact. Think of Apple and the 1984 Superbowl ad which changed what people think of technology and let people think differently. You can make a huge impact.

What about low reach targeting?
If you want a big global reach, you can do it, but you’re going to get a lot of fat.  If I think about low reach medium – if you’re trying to reach a niche audience – think of our audience, you’re coming here for a particular reach.  We have smaller figures, but we have a very high reach of a targeted senior audience. You’re reaching the global decision makers.  We think hyper targeting is effective, and you can shift perceptions among tight groups – so I respectfully disagree with Byron on that!

Data, insight and delivering the proof
If you’re a really good advertiser you can craft and deliver a message or messages which resonates to everyone across the purchase decision making process, whether it’s the CFO, the CTO or someone in between.

It’s one thing for data to inform a message or campaign or tagline.  You also have to go to the board and show how you shifted perceptions, delivered sales, improved advocacy and moved your predefined KPIs.

You cannot do that anecdotally. You must prove it scientifically, and that’s why we have partnerships to prove to our advertisers that we have done things right, that we have shifted perceptions.  That’s the job of a marketer.  And we can build on that momentum for our future work and strategy by zeroing in on specific elements of a campaign as well as the overall success.

Data and Insight as a creative starter
In our creative and marketing group, the audience insight and data are vital to bring in at the beginning.  Those insights about the audience is what gets our creative wheels moving to think about better ideas and messages for our advertisers.  We don’t want numbers which kill ideas, we want them to aid better to get more creative ideas – and when you share that insight with us it helps us optimise and gets us thinking even more.

We don’t use data as a step by step guidance or to stifle things, but to make things more impactful.