Bloomberg ditches conventional ads for streaming news service

Following in the footsteps of CBS, NBC and others, Bloomberg Media is entering the streaming foray with an ad-supported 24/7 live streaming news service, called TicToc. The news service, which is being distributed on Twitter’s platform, aims to reach breaking news junkies that are flocking to digital-native news services like CBS’s CBSN, Cheddar, and the various news programming available on Snapchat. But unlike its cohorts, Bloomberg has opted to forgo traditional commercial spots for native advertising in hopes of keeping viewers engaged with the content.

Bloomberg Media CEO Justin Smith said the company is responding to new viewer behaviors. “We’re seeing a shift in the media landscape today,” Smith said. “More content companies are partnering with platforms to create hybrid businesses that better serve consumers and society.”

The launch is an extension of Bloomberg’s growing relationship with Twitter. The company currently live streams three of its other shows on the platform, but TicToc will be Twitter’s first 24/7 live news channel on the platform and the first to cater to business users on Twitter. Bloomberg said seven advertising sponsors have signed on for the service, including a few key financial services companies such as CME Group, Goldman Sachs and TD Ameritrade.

Francie Staub, managing director of integrated and digital marketing at TD Ameritrade, said the company was eager to jump aboard as an advertising sponsor for Bloomberg’s “mobile newsroom,” in order to “leverage cutting edge technology to help create a more informed, confident investor base.”

Monetization on Twitter has always been a challenge for content partners, which is why it’s significant that Bloomberg has opted to monetize its content with branded content and sponsorships, rather than rely on the pre- or mid-roll ad spots.

Twitter’s advertising business has limped along over the past few years, as has its video strategy. Following the return of CEO and founder Jack Dorsey, the company re-focused last year on live streaming programming. Twitter has streamed some 830 live events over the past year. During its Q3 earnings call, Dorsey told shareholders the company has seen significant interest from programmers and advertisers in live streaming content, and the company has claimed video ads are a growing part of its business, but hasn’t yet reported specific revenue numbers for the ad format.

Focusing on native and branded content will offer Bloomberg an opportunity to better marry video monetization with viewer experience. Bloomberg said it will develop and produce the branded content for its advertising sponsors, though we’d assume some of the revenue generated would be split with Twitter. Neither Twitter nor Bloomberg outlined any revenue sharing agreements associated with TicToc.

As advertising continues to inundate consumers’ social media feeds left and right, video monetization has become a struggle for the newer video entrants who are trying to establish themselves as content destinations for viewers. Further complicating matters for the likes of Facebook and Twitter is that consumers are becoming less and less tolerant of traditional advertising spots, which disrupt the viewing experience.

Facebook has recently revamped its own advertising strategy for the third time in as many years – which has served to sour its relations with content partners. Facebook initially experimented with more YouTube-like monetization strategies, which involved revenue splitting with content creators, to little success. After a few revisions of that strategy, the company is now hoping to bolster a video-only tab on the platform where viewers will go specifically to discover and watch content. Seeing that viewers tend to tolerate traditional ad breaks when they are watching longer form content, Facebook has re-aligned its monetization policies in hopes of incentivizing publishers to create longer-form content that will appear on the “Watch” section of the social platform.

“Viewers tell us they prefer it when the video they are watching ‘merits’ an ad break,” Facebook’s project managers wrote in a blogpost last week. “These videos tend to be longer, with more narrative development. As a result, starting in January we will focus the expansion of ad breaks on shows, and ad break eligibility will shift to videos and episodes that are at least three minutes long.”

Facebook said it will also begin experimenting with pre-roll ads in its Watch section – after admitting that no one wants to watch them in their newsfeeds. “While pre-roll ads don’t work well in news feeds, we think they will work well in Watch because it’s a place where people visit and come back to with the intention to watch videos,” the blogpost stated.