Bloomberg Media is pivoting, trying to turn at least part of its business into an ad agency and marketing firm because its traditional media operations — which include the slumping Bloomberg Businessweek and cable TV channel — are falling short of revenue goals so far this year.
A big change comes from the arrival of Andrew Benett — from ad agency giant Havas — who was recruited as the global chief commercial officer several weeks ago. A casualty of his arrival was Steve Feuling, who joined as global head of marketing services in October and was bounced several weeks ago with the arrival of the former Havas CEO.
“We really think we’ve created a model for the future,” said Bloomberg Media CEO Justin Smith, who said his division is “all in” on the new ad agency and consulting model.
As part of the changes, up to two dozen traditional ad sales people were out of jobs in recent days, including at least three group ad directors: David Bickford in New York; Jack Vincent in Los Angeles and Leslie MacCullum in Washington DC.
The global chief revenue officer, Keith Grossman, who once reported to Chief Operating Officer Jacki Kelley, now reports to Benett as part of the sweeping overhaul.
Grossman clearly was feeling the heat in recent weeks. Sources say he had blasted the East Coast staff with an angry e-mail several weeks ago, pressing that group to stem the yearlong erosion of revenue. He also told them to forget summer hours and ordered them to start reporting to their desks by 7:45 am.
“I have sat idly on the sidelines for too long as I have watched the US East territory continue to lose revenue month after month,” he said in an internal e-mail to the US East ad sales staff on July 17 that was obtained this week by Media Ink. “This trend needs to stop. It needs to stop today, and it needs to stop for the month of July.” But it may have missed its mark.
Bloomberg Businessweek, which in January chopped its guaranteed circulation to advertisers from 1 million to 600,000, has seen revenue drop further this year.
In contrast, digital has been growing at a double-digit pace and now is said to account for 50 percent of the ad revenue.
Said Smith: “We are creating an entirely new model of media that will deliver integrated consulting and marketing services in addition to multi-platform media sales.” While he acknowledged there were some staff cuts, he said they would be offset by new hires in Benett’s operation.