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Justin Smith — who helped turn around the fortunes of the ailing Atlantic Media empire, in part by expanding the 150-year-old magazine’s digital reach — has laid out a manifesto about how he wants to do something similar with Bloomberg Media, where he took the reins as CEO last July, by expanding out of strictly financial media into the broader business news market. He described it as a “full-throttle mission to build a leading digitally-led, multi-platform media company.”
In a post about his vision — which was published on Medium as well as at Bloomberg Now — Smith said the financial news giant is planning to take advantage of the ongoing disruption in the media industry, where “consumers are redefining decades-old consumption habits” and advertisers are “fleeing traditional media in favor of large digital audiences” that can provide better metrics and analytics.
“As our traditional competitors buckle under their own legacy weight, we are unencumbered, benefiting from a series of unique corporate advantages: the Bloomberg business model; our owner’s insistence on long-term perspective; a culture of disruption; and an established tradition of high-quality journalism.”
Although Smith didn’t mention it, one of the reasons why Bloomberg is likely planning to expand its digital assets is that growth at the company’s former financial powerhouse — its terminal and data-licensing business — has flattened, and while that unit is still reliably producing billions in revenue, it is no longer the growth engine it once was (Reuters, facing a similar challenge, recently killed off an ambitious but expensive rethinking of its consumer web strategy).
Among other things, the Bloomberg Media CEO suggested that the company is going to fine-tune both its public-facing website at Bloomberg.com and its Businessweek magazine property, the purchase of which he described as the first step in a broader plan. Smith said that the differences between the two platforms “are not as clear to consumers or advertisers as they could be,” which sounds like code for a restructuring of one or both properties.
In addition to broadening its audience beyond strictly financial news, Smith said the company will be “building out a portfolio of new digital assets” and will be investing heavily in digital video (using its existing Bloomberg TV unit as a content source) as well as its print magazines and other properties.
Post and photo thumbnails courtesy of Albert Chau