The objective of the Global Content Strategy team is to develop, produce and distribute high-quality, engaging and shareworthy content and creative that shares BlackRock’s economic insights, reflects our purpose around financial well-being, explains our business and humanizes our brand. To achieve this objective, we created a modern content newsroom that produces video and audio content that highlights BlackRock’s thought leadership on markets and the global economy.
A key component of our content newsroom is The Bid podcast. The Bid breaks down what’s happening in the markets and explores the forces that are changing investing. The Bid aims to help listeners learn more about developments in the markets through storytelling from thought leaders in and outside of BlackRock.
At the start of 2020, the data showed that The Bid sat in the top 5% of podcasts across categories. Our objective was to increase downloads of The Bid by diving deeper into topics the data had shown resonated previously; exploring new topics that were areas of focus to the business; and experimenting with new formats.
First, we sought to leverage the data from prior years to continue focusing on topics that resonate with our audience. Through the 2018 and 2019 data, we learned that topics such as technology, megatrends (long-term structural forces shaping the global economy) and our global investment outlook performed well in addition to timely insights, such as elections and geopolitical events. Throughout the year, we featured these topics more often. Additionally, when Covid-19 hit, we pivoted our content strategy to focus nearly entirely on Covid-related content, capitalizing on the insight that timely content resonates. We released an episode in March around how Covid impacted our market outlook, and in the months since, continued to update listeners with how Covid had touched different areas of the markets, from sustainability to credit to real estate. Our listener feedback to this pivot was strong; listeners appreciated having a go-to source to learn about how the pandemic was reshaping global markets.
Second, we explored new topics that were areas of focus to the business. With sustainability as a key firm priority in 2020, we ran a sustainability mini-series throughout the year. Our mini-series, “Sustainability. Our new standard” touched on our outlook for sustainability around the globe, from the U.S. to Hong Kong; how Covid-19 heightened focus on climate change; and how different portfolio managers incorporate sustainability into their investment process. We also covered priority topics such as alternatives and indexing.
Lastly, we experimented with new storytelling formats. While The Bid has traditionally utilized a Q&A format, we created a few episodes throughout the year that leveraged multiple speakers in one episode, woven together by moderation, such that the episode told a complete story. One episode, “14 questions answered about the coronavirus,” featured six portfolio managers and strategists answering the top questions we had received from our clients around Covid-19. Additionally, we leverage live, virtual events for episode content as well. At our Global Summit in June, we conducted a sustainability roundtable with external thought leaders that later became an episode of the podcast.
In promoting the podcast, to reach our target audience, we promote the Bid with paid and organic support across our LinkedIn and Twitter channels. We frequently review our social reporting to gather insights on how to better optimize our tactics, creative and promotional copy to ensure we are were effectively reaching our target audience. For example, we learned that including a video snippet of an interview resonated better with our audience than a static creative asset. We also learned that users preferred short, pithy social copy
By the end of 2020, The Bid exceeded 11,000 average downloads per episode, placing us in the top 2-5% of podcasts across categories. Average downloads per episode increased by 36% throughout the year, and monthly average downloads of the series overall increased by 36%.
An additional objective was increase brand awareness and trust among our target audiences. To measure success against this objective, we tapped into our social partners to help us implement quarterly brand studies. In our latest brand study with Twitter, measuring The Bid as well as other owned content series, we saw lifts across ad recall, brand awareness and favorability. Each of these metrics saw major improvements in exposed/engagers compared to the previous quarterly study, meaning that we are continuing to build trust and awareness amongst our target audience.
As a KPI for our paid social tactics, we used click-through rate (CTR). Clicking out to read more content was indicator of engagement and therefore consideration/preference. On Twitter, our campaign CTR was 0.53%, which was 96% above benchmark (0.27%). On LinkedIn, our campaign CTR was 0.86%, which was 121% above benchmark (0.39%).