Meet the Jury — Ashish Verma
Ashish Verma, Global Executive Creative Director at Bloomberg Media, is an internationally renowned expert in all fields of branded content and branded solutions. His non-linear path led to a career beyond comparison. Ashish now has become a globally acclaimed creative with the ability to synergize all his skills and experiences.
So far, Ashish’s career spans more than two decades. He started off in Game Design at Atari, where he played a key role in launching the first Sony Playstation, He made his creative contributions to advertising agencies such as Digitas, where he established campaigns for the health and wellness industries and worked in branded entertainment at William Morris Endeavor. Ashish switched careers again and became Managing Director of Kelton, where he dealt with huge accounts such as Google, Diageo and Pfizer. His broad knowledge and vast experience later led him to Bloomberg Media, where he now takes the responsibility for campaigns in all lines of business, spanning from technology and finance to health and luxury. Ashish calls a vast amount of awards his own, not limited to but including Cannes Corporate. This is what led him to joining the Cannes Corporate Jury in 2021 for the first time.
We are happy to say that Ashish could manage to carve some time out of his jam-packed schedule to join us for this interview. Read and get inspired!
What do you define as successful branded video content and how important is branded video content for brands?
Branded video content is ubiquitous today. It’s abundantly clear that video is a very effective medium to connect with people in a substantive way that exceeds traditional advertising. Even more important than simply having that content, though, is ensuring that it is meaningful — both in terms of what it does for the audience and how it drives business results.
According to Havas’ latest ‘Meaningful Brands’ study, 60% of content created by brands is “just clutter.” To avoid that fate and make a successful video, brands need to examine the purpose of content they generate: Why it exists, how it offers a unique POV, how it adds value in exchange for the audience’s time. When done right, branded video content has the ability to build deep relationships by showing the brand’s values and how the brand is focused on customer needs.
I often heard from young composers that they fear limited creative options when doing music for corporate films or advertising compared to feature films. Is there any truth in that?
I would say its as limited as the imagination of the director, or in the case of Corporate films, the clients / ad agency. The commercial films are often less flexible as there is a clear corporate identity pre-existing which the music has to be aligned to. I would generally agree, though i have worked on advertising campaigns with fiercely creative teams. Always a joy when this happens!
There is an enormous amount of content out there, even more than a person can consume. How do you make sure that the potential audience is able to find the content that is most interesting for them?
Beyond creating content that is meaningful and purposeful, brands need to ensure that the content they produce makes its way to audiences through smart, engaging channels. At Bloomberg Media Studios, we do this by building with distribution in mind, using our proprietary audience and content platform Bloomberg AiQ as a foundational part of our creative process.
Data generated from Bloomberg AiQ allows us to understand media consumption behaviors for different audience groups, from the topics they spend the most time with to the channels where they’re engaging to the content formats that most appeal to them. This information helps us determine what our content mix should look like — and, importantly, it also allows us to make surprising connections about our audience that in turn make our ideas richer.
What is the best strategy to offer the maximum value for the user? How do you make sure the user connects to the brand emotionally?
Our guiding principle is to always ask ourselves: how can we make this worth the investment of time we’re asking for from viewers? Ultimately, it’s a combination of two things, which are equal in importance.
First, it’s knowing your audience better. The audience work we do shows that our universe of modern leaders is multi-dimensional. They’re business leaders, but they’re also people who have multifaceted lives outside of that. With the wealth of data that only Bloomberg has, we’re not only able to glean demographics and other typical metrics, but we’re also able to see the interests and needs that dimensionalize audiences as individuals. We aren’t looking at audiences in a traditional, siloed way.
Second, it’s focusing on the human need that’s being served, along with the business goal. We ask ourselves how we can put forth a unique or surprising perspective in a way that provokes a shift in behavior or thinking. How do we help audiences deconstruct complexity, make smarter decisions or feed their ambition?
When these two things come together seamlessly, it’s powerful.
What does it take to make the brand experience both unique and authentic?
Our audiences are incredibly smart, and they are coming to Bloomberg to read intelligent, data-driven, unbiased journalism on topics that matter to them, from what’s moving markets to the context around cultural shifts to the latest global developments in technology, politics, design and more. They see right through anything that’s not genuine.
As a creative partner to premium brands, the path to authenticity is finding a common ground between our clients and what makes Bloomberg unique: our values (from sustainability to DE&I), our core focus on data (from Bloomberg Terminal to Bloomberg Intelligence), and the trust and credibility that audiences expect from us. We unlock these essential elements of the Bloomberg ecosystem for our clients to find a shared ambition. We rely on our journalistic roots and a visual approach to data that mirrors our editorial leadership. That’s what has driven successful partnerships and significant growth for us globally.
Thinking of all campaigns you did so far. Which one was the most successful one and why?
We’re incredibly proud of all the work we produce that helps clients build leadership platforms with proprietary data. One example is our work with long-time partner Hyundai: The H2 Economy Today, an intelligent, long-term marketing engine focused on the pivotal role of hydrogen in realizing a sustainable future that establishes a global leadership position for Hyundai on the future of mobility.
Leveraging Bloomberg’s unique access to the latest data and analysis on clean energy investment and adoption, the H2 Economy is a first-of-its-kind data-driven ranking of global hydrogen economies, across priority industries. The ranking is the centerpiece of the H2 Economy Today, which also includes custom videos and infographics. Considering 86% of Bloomberg Media’s audience actively use Bloomberg’s data and information to make decisions, the ranking is poised to create a ripple effect across leaders, policy-makers, and the wider public seeking sustainable transportation solutions.
This collaborative effort has recently been recognized with top industry honors for Hyundai and Bloomberg Media, earning the Best Use of Data win at the 2021 Digiday Content Marketing Awards.
Is there a difference between Branded Content and Branded Solutions? What are your thoughts on that?
To us, branded content is a part of branded solutions. Bloomberg Media Studios offers branded solutions to our clients, and that goes beyond a typical media partnership. Unlike any other organization, we have the resources and the experts to lead with data and strategy — no matter the scale of the partnership.
Through proprietary data tools and platforms we craft intelligence-powered blueprints, spanning the entire marketing funnel, that inform brand activations to meet goals. We assemble cross-functional teams of account experts, data scientists, strategists and creative leads to recommend the best campaigns to achieve objectives and reveal new opportunities.
Then, through our creative development process, we ensure that we are helping clients foster deep relationships with their target audiences across the user and brand journey. Depending on the audience mindset and platform, we can activate the Bloomberg ecosystem holistically, whether that means creating lean-back content on OTT and TV or lean-forward interactive tools and utilities on mobile, or immersive experiences at live events. It enables us to transform a brand’s story into an experience to meaningfully connect with their audience.
How do you measure the success of your work?
On a tactical level, we take a two-pronged approach, looking at both performance and impact. Performance metrics help you gauge the effectiveness of engagement through CTR, View Rates, Dwell time, and others. Impact metrics help you evaluate things like perception shifts, brand lift and intent to take action. In combination, they help us understand and optimize the power of our work and its ability to break through and spark action.
Just as importantly, we also measure success through the lens of our relationship with our clients. That allows us to forge long-term partnerships that are bold and ambitious at their core. And it pushes us to disrupt industry or culture at large.
Has the pandemic situation any influence of brands communicating with their clients? Has the tone of voice changed?
The pandemic underscored that people deeply need and want objective, trustworthy, data-driven information that can help them make sense of change. Our world was evolving faster than ever, even before Covid-19; the pandemic showed that knowledge can change by the moment. In this environment, reliable sources are essential. We’ve seen sustained growth in subscriptions to Bloomberg.com, and the same need has also fueled growth for Bloomberg Media Studios.
We are helping clients meet the demands of today’s audiences, who want to see brands reflect who they are and the values they hold. We also recognize that there is an increased level of responsibility for brands to be agents of change in the world, which includes building a future that is both equitable and sustainable. And they need to do that in a way that isn't tone deaf; they need to communicate in ways that are sensitized to the context in which we live.
Purpose has gone from being a nice to have to being an imperative for businesses, from top to bottom and inside out. Our proprietary resources put us in a unique position to help brands activate their purpose, because working this way is intrinsic to who we are as Bloomberg and the way we build solutions for our clients.
Why did you follow the invitation for being a judge and what do you expect from this duty in terms of seeing all the entered videos?
At the end of the day we’re all in service of a greater mission to connect audiences with information through stories and experiences that enrich their world view. I’m honored to be part of this creative community and excited to celebrate and be inspired by those who have found ways to forge these connections with excellence.