Richard Zannino, who was appointed CEO of Dow Jones & Co. in February, says that working in the rough-and-tumble world of retail helped to prepare him for setting the publishing company's agenda amid dramatic changes in media spending habits.
"I come from a business retail background, which changes every six months with the seasons," said Zannino, who worked at retailer Liz Claiborne from 1998 to 2001, rising to exec VP of finance, administration and the company's retail, fragrance and licensing units. "There's tremendous change in media. But similar to retail, it's all about being adept at understanding what the consumer wants."
Zannino has been on the fast track ever since he joined Dow Jones in 2001 as CFO. In July 2002, he was promoted to COO and became a member of the company's executive committee.
Just a few weeks after he was named to succeed longtime Dow Jones CEO Peter Kann, Zannino announced a plan to divide the company into three distinct business units. The reorganization combined the print and Web editions of The Wall Street Journal into the Consumer Media Group, which also includes financial Web site MarketWatch, Barrron's and Smart Money, a joint venture with Hearst Corp.
A second division, the Enter-prise Group, includes Dow Jones Newswires and Dow Jones Licensing Group, among other assets. The third unit, the Community Media Group, includes the company's portfolio of 15 daily and 19 weekly Ottaway newspapers in nine states.
As part of the reorganization, Dow Jones is melding print ad sales with online sales to better serve advertisers that are shifting their spending to online properties. Zannino has created an Ad Sales Council that is designed to increase collaboration between print ad sales and digital ad sales.
Even before the reorganization was announced, advertisers that bought both print and online ads in Dow Jones properties posted a 15% boost in spending in 2005, Zannino said.
Still, there's room for improvement. "More than half our advertisers are still buying in silos, and pages still garner higher rates than online," Zannino said. "So the last thing we want is for a print rep to be distracted by selling online only and vice versa."
There will likely be additional advertising opportunities throughout the brand when The Wall Street Journal shrinks in format starting in January.
"We want to differentiate print and make it more of a complement to online," Zannino said. "When you get up in the morning you check out what we have in print; in the office, you're on WSJ.com; and when you go outside you're reading the Journal's content on your BlackBerry."