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The broad get narrow

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Some of the largest horizontal business sites are narrowing their focus on smaller segments A s business marketers look for more precise targeting for their online advertising, some of the largest and broadest brands in the business media are putting a new focus on narrower vertical business segments in their Web strategies. The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, BusinessWeek and Time Warner's CNNMoney are all expanding content in tighter vertical segments than before. With a major redesign of its Web site that debuted in mid-September, the Journal expanded its domestic and international coverage of technology, small business and personal finance, as well as politics and lifestyle. In addition to adding journalists, WSJ.com is also providing more business content via better integration with its sibling business titles at Dow Jones—Barron's, MarketWatch and “D,” All Things Digital (www.allthingsd.com). A week after the WSJ.com revamp debuted, The New York Times announced a significant expansion of its online business and technology coverage, touting the addition of more than a dozen new hires dedicated to business and technology reporting. The site unveiled a redesigned Technology section, a new Economy section and a Green Inc. blog that will eventually be part of a section on Energy and the Environment. New sections for Small Business, Personal Technology and Your Money will appear in the coming months, along with new business tools and multimedia features. “This is a very big focus for us this year and next year,” said Vivian Schiller, senior VP-general manager of NYTimes.com. “We did research to see what business decision-makers were doing on our site, and it turns out they're in Sports, Politics, International, Arts, Dining, everywhere. They're in Business, but they're not predominantly in Business,” she said. “If we can get the business decision-maker audience we already have to spend more time looking at the various business subverticals we are creating, that will be a big advertising win for us. It's all about contextual advertising.” While the Journal and the Times are expanding their vertical business coverage with more journalists, other Web sites are tapping their audiences for additional expert business content. By encouraging interactions among peers with similar business interest, sites such as CNNMoney.com and BusinessWeek.com hope to increase audience engagement within business verticals. Jonathan Shar, senior VP-general manager at CNNMoney.com, explained: “We built out an Ask-Answer channel for Small Business. We either have an expert or a member of the general user base answer those questions. This creates engagement on the site, and it also allows us to offer an opportunity to place targeted advertising against small business.” At BusinessWeek, “we are going deep into business and narrow into vertical segments,” said Keith Fox, president. In fact, with its Business Exchange section, which rolled out in beta early last month, BusinessWeek is having its community of users determine which business topics will be covered as well as the content within them. The content itself will be aggregated from all over the Web, not only from BusinessWeek. “We're giving users tools to create topics collaboratively using content from across the Web,” said Roger Neal, senior VP-general manager of BusinessWeek Digital. “Some people will find Business Exchange through a major search engine and find aggregated content that's useful on a one-time or occasional basis. Other people will use it as a tool to stay on top of a given topic on an ongoing basis,” he said. “We're looking to create utility for users. We're diverging from traditional media approaches because we're not as concerned about who is creating the content.” “Everyone in business is busier than ever, and they need help discovering information that matters in their particular business area,” Fox added. “We want to connect business professionals to great content, and also to each other and our advertisers.” M
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