It's been nearly five months since Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. officially acquired Dow Jones & Co., publisher of The Wall Street Journal and WSJ.com, for $5.7 billion.
Murdoch has wasted little time making significant changes, particularly on the print side. The front section of the Journal is now devoted to national and international news, while the "Marketplace" section carries corporate news. According to a recent study by the Project for Excellence in Journalism, the Journal's front-page coverage of business has dropped 50% under News Corp.
Other recent changes include the expansion of the Journal's "Op-Ed" section to three pages and the "Weekend Journal's" introduction of a sports page on Friday.
Even before the Dow Jones sale, the Journal had instituted several changes designed to enhance the brand's presence in an ever-morphing media and marketing landscape. Most significant was the redesign unveiled in January 2007, when the newspaper started to put more emphasis on analysis.
Sarah Fay, CEO of advertising holding company Aegis North America, said the various changes shouldn't deter b2b media buyers.
|The Wall Street Journal
Phone: (212) 597-6014
Circulation: 2 million**
Ad revenue: N/A
Ad rate: $264,426 for 1 page 4/C (national edition)
Phone: (212) 597-6014
Circulation: 1.1million paid circulation
Ad revenue: N/A
Ad rate: $50 CPM
"You still can't get by without reading the Journal if you're a serious player in the professional world," she said. "They're broadening the content but haven't moved away from having an authoritative voice."
Asked about the editorial changes, Michael Rooney, chief revenue officer of Dow Jones & Co., said: "There's an appetite for national news, whether it's politics or sports, and what we're doing is telling readers what these stories mean and [how] all of these stories affect business. It's a natural evolution."
The sales side has been evolving, too. One of the biggest changes before the sale was the elimination in September of Dow Jones Integrated Solutions. Now, rather than having one sales division solely dedicated to crafting integrated marketing packages, such packages are sold across the company.
"It's part of our DNA," Rooney said. "Any client or account now has access to an integrated multimedia sales director who can offer print, in-person or online marketing."
By making integrated sales available throughout the enterprise, Dow Jones is aiming to give media buyers access to a global audience of 22 million people. In addition to the Journal, Dow Jones publishes Barron's, Dow Jones Newswires and MarketWatch, among other assets.
Last year the Journal started offering ad space on the front page of its various news sections, and expects to offer more color pages for advertisers next year.
While most of the newspaper industry is suffering from circulation erosion, the Journal is bucking the trend, albeit slightly, with its overall circulation up 0.3% in the six months ended March 31, according to the Audit Bureau of Circulations. Individually paid subscriptions grew 1.6% during the period.
Dow Jones continues to expand WSJ.com, which has seen an 11% increase in paid subscribers this year.
The Web site, which in March had 15.8 million unique monthly users, recently announced that investment research company Morningstar would provide new investor tools and international investment data to the Web site. A few weeks earlier, WSJ.com added SeenThis?—a social media tool designed to bring users' social networks onto the site.
In a related development, Dow Jones in April acquired Generate, which provides business social networking tools, and will form a new business unit called Business & Relationship Intelligence within its Enterprise Media Group.
"One of the most important changes is the ease with which we can do business with b2b advertisers," Rooney said. "We're selling a brand to our audience, and can point our advertisers and their messages in the right direction and have [those messages] run on different platforms."
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