Behind Media Minds: Bloomberg Media’s CEO Scott Havens Talks About Their Rapid Growth, How They’re Investing & Future-Proofing for Success

I recently talked with Bloomberg Media’s CEO Scott Havens about how the company is investing and thriving, as well as how Taboola fits into its strategy in order to increase awareness and acquisition of subscribers.

Scott shared some great predictions about how subscription-dependent content providers will be engaged in a customer-retention battle, how companies will need to aggressively super-serve their customers in order to stay competitive, and how they’ve been at the forefront of using AI. I’ve had the pleasure of knowing Scott for a decade since his day at Time Inc–he was always forward-thinking, and now at Bloomberg Media, the company is committed to staying ahead of the curve in an ever-changing media landscape.

I believe that in today’s privacy-first era, there are huge opportunities for marketers to diversify outside of social/search, and look for open-web, contextual environments like Bloomberg. I’m excited about the future of the open web, this is where publishers shine – the article as a proxy of who the user is versus “their identity” has a meaningful potential over the next decade.

How would you describe our current business relationship?

Our business relationship now has a new, very different focus, as we shift to use the widening Taboola network to attract more readers and subscribers. We look forward to continuing our work together with this fresh angle.

How is Bloomberg integrating Taboola into their marketing strategy?

After many years working mainly with the big social media platforms for acquisition, we’re looking for new partnerships and networks to find incremental subscribers. As such, we’ll be adding the recently increased user base within the new Taboola/Yahoo! Network as part of our acquisition strategy.

How is Bloomberg rethinking their subscription model? How are you utilizing Taboola to gain new subscribers?

Early on when we launched our subscription business in May 2018, we were largely spending the budget on driving up the total number of subscribers. Since then, we have evolved our strategy to focus on platform usage by our subscribers, engaging them more consistently and focusing more effort on retention. You can’t fill up a water bottle very quickly if there is a hole in the bottom. Our team conducts advanced analysis to understand consumer behavior and its correlation with retention. This includes understanding the number of times we communicate with users via email, or the number of times a user visits our platform and the effect on retention and churn rate. We saw over 20% growth in subscription revenue in 2022.

Importantly, we also launched our enterprise subscriptions business last year and it’s already a seven-figure revenue business. We anticipate that growing between four- and five-fold in 2023.

We’re always looking for new channels to acquire subscribers that have a high propensity to subscribe and think Taboola will be helpful.

How do you see our business relationship evolving over the next 3-5 years, and what steps can we take to ensure that we are both positioned for success?

The industry continues to evolve and innovate, and I think our partnership will too. Making sure that we drive high quality traffic through other products Taboola creates will be beneficial not just for Bloomberg Media but other publishers as well. As we’ve seen over the years with Taboola – and as the audiences migrate more to video – I expect to see new products and opportunities – perhaps in OTT/Streaming – that we might work on together.

Bloomberg increased their revenue growth by +16% in 2022. What were the biggest factors that contributed to this success during an economic downturn?

We attribute our consistent growth to the highly diversified, multi-platform, and global business model that we have invested in. Our ability to invest for the long term – particularly in global markets and in social and streaming video – has driven much of this growth.

What are your thoughts on the current state of the media industry? Any predictions or changes you’d like to see in 2023?

It’s obvious the media industry is experiencing some macroeconomic headwinds but I’m optimistic that we’re also seeing companies continuing to innovate and new brands being introduced. My prediction is that we’ll see subscription-dependent content providers finding themselves engaged in a ruthless customer-retention battle. They’ll be forced to aggressively super-serve their customers with enhanced value propositions and likely – at least in the short term – more reasonable pricing.

What are your thoughts on ChatGPT and other generative AI tools? Have you tested them yourself?

We think these are powerful tools for a media business, but like all new disruptive technologies, both power and peril exist.

Bloomberg LP, and our newsroom in particular, have been active leaders in the space for at least seven years (since 2016), and we’ll continue using AI technology to drive innovation smartly and responsibly.

In October, for example, we announced Audience Accelerator which uses first party data to inform its machine learning models that predict the population of users on the site that are likely to be in a certain group, e.g. C-suites or tech decision makers.

This interview is part of our “Behind Media Minds” series, found here, with many of our partners and friends such as David Steinberg of Zeta, Steve Stoute of Translation + UnitedMasters, and Sheri Bachstein of the Weather Company.


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