Q&A with Arif Durrani, Commercial Editor Europe, Middle East & Africa, Bloomberg

January 19, 2017

Arif Durrani is the Commercial Editor for Bloomberg Media’s Kinection, the company’s newly formed global content studio. He has been a business journalist for the last two decades and was an established media and technology columnist before joining Bloomberg last year to build its branded content and commercial editorial operation in the region.

He has brought his experience running news desks and video teams for business publishers to content marketing, and in his first year at Bloomberg, Kinection has won six major industry awards for its multimedia content for brands, including the Drum and BIMA Awards in the UK and Telly and MIN awards in the US

Q: Why should agencies/advertisers enter the World Media Awards?
Arif: In a media landscape that continues to evolve and shift at speed, the World Media Awards help to reward excellence, provide inspiration and share best practice among clients, agencies and media owners alike.

Q: What will you be looking for from the entries?/What will make a winning entry?/What does great branded content look like?
Arif: Great ideas, brilliantly executed that have been successful in achieving ambitious and pre-agreed goals.With so many platforms available we should be looking for tailored, compelling content that has proved to be effective, and that hopefully raises the bar for what the sector can achieve.

Q: Why should advertisers use branded content – what is it best suited to achieve?
Arif: Branded content enables brands to engage with potential customers through powerful, constructed narratives – providing more context than traditional advertising and more craft than traditional PR.

Q: Does branded content have to work harder than editorial? If so, how do you make that happen?
Arif: Not harder per se, but everyone working in branded content has to be aware of the value exchange – no one wants to waste their time being sold to without anything in return – content marketing must inform, entertain or move you emotionally – the currency of any great storytelling.

Q: What are the challenges and opportunities of integrating branded content across different platforms – from print to video, from mobile to TV?
Arif: The opportunity is to tell a story more than once, and to adapt the message and its timing so it works best for each medium and the overall campaign. The challenge is in understanding how each platform is used, by whom and when.


Q: Do content-driven communications work better for brands in some industry sectors than others?
Yes, it is easier for brands with obvious – and universally recognised – links to being able to inform, entertain or emotionally connect – but those that aren’t have to work harder and arguably produce some of the most creative work.

Q: What should clients look for in a native advertising/branded content proposal? And what should they look for in the team who will be delivering it?
Arif: A great idea / compelling story that can live through more than one execution and will undoubtedly support and amplify the brand’s core values. The team need to dedicated, hungry, accountable and preferably experts in their chosen fields. You want to work with people driven to be the best at what they do, obvious perhaps, but without that drive you are left with soulless, faceless content, which simply clogs up the web / TV screens / publications.

Q: How do you measure the ROI delivered by branded content campaigns? E.g. What KPIs should be measured? Is 2 seconds of video content really enough in terms of viewability?
ROI depends on individual campaign objectives. Let’s talk KPIs: Dwell times and user reactions (whether via social, at an event, or on the phone) continue to be the best ways to gauge any type of success for digital. On TV you have viewing figures along with user reaction, and in print its readership and user reaction.Online, unique user figures and page impressions continue to be standard benchmarks but are too easily manipulated. If a campaign has a direct call to action then it helps. But it’s not enough, and this is an area ripe for innovation. But substantial qualitative and quantitative research is expensive – who pays; the advertiser, the agency or the media owner? And no, two seconds is nowhere near enough to count for anything when it comes to content marketing online.

Q: How difficult is it to find a content marketing idea that can translate across borders?
Not very difficult at all. Great ideas and strong storytelling transcend cultures and national barriers. I am always struck by the amount people are – at their core – the same the world over. Hopes, aspirations and needs for themselves, family and friends are the same. Great stories have the power to delight, enchant, touch, teach, recall, inspire, motivate, challenge. They help us to understand. Yes, there are cultural differences and knowledge gaps you need to be sensitive to when conveying any message, but the essence of a great story should remain.

Q: What is the role of media in helping to execute ideas internationally?
Arif: International media provide a trusted, reliable, familiar platform for brands to engage with people across borders. They offer an invaluable environment for brands wanting to reach new or specific consumers, or a target audience on the move.

Q: Summarise yourself in three words.
Arif: Committed, Interested, Alive

Q: What made you want to pursue a career in media and marketing?
Arif: The pastries

Q: Describe your ideal client.
Arif: Adventurous, Empathetic, Loaded

Q: Name your favourite ever content-driven campaign.
Arif: Been around the block too many times to start talking about my “favourite ever” anything, but,in December, BBDO New York’s “Evan” digital video for Sandy Hook Promise is breathtakingly brilliant. Its bold, simple and universal narrative of boy meets girl with a spine chilling twist is as powerful and effective a two and a half minutes of storytelling you’re ever likely to see. It uses the medium brilliantly to capture just how easy it is for us all to be caught up in our own daily dramas to miss some fundamental warning signs. Emotive, informative, provocative – tick, tick, tick.

Deadline for entries is 16th February 2017 – ENTER NOW