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Catering to customers at heart of restructurings

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Time Inc. and The Wall Street Journal recently announced major restructurings of their advertising sales operations with a similar goal: boosting well-entrenched media brands in a tough media environment.

Last month Time Inc. announced a new sales organization that includes an as-yet unnamed executive position with responsibility for all print and digital advertising revenue for all the publisher's business and finance titles.

The portfolio of titles, which includes Fortune, Fortune Small Business, Money and CNNMoney.com, also changed its named to the Fortune|Money Group from the Time Inc. Business and Finance Network.

The changes at Time Inc. were announced a week after the publisher shuttered Business 2.0, which had been part of the Business and Finance Network.

As part of the reorganization, Hugh Wiley, formerly group associate publisher of the Business and Finance Network, and Brett Wilson, previously associate publisher/North America for Time, have been named publishers of Fortune and Money, respectively.

Those posts were eliminated in April 2006 when Time Inc. merged the ad sales teams of Business 2.0, Fortune, Fortune Small Business and Money. Despite the changes, ad pages in the first half of the year fell 17.5% at Fortune, 18.2% at FSB, 25.7% at Money and 34.1% at Business 2.0, according to the Publishers Information Bureau.

Previously, the publisher roles at Fortune and Money were handled on a regional basis by Mike Dukmejian and Mike Federle. Dukmejian is leaving Time Inc., while Federle has agreed to stay on through the end of the year as a senior adviser to Vivek Shah, president of the Fortune|Money Group.

"This is not a signal that we don't believe in cross-selling but that cross-selling isn't the only sell," said Shah, who in July was promoted to president of the Business and Finance Network.

Shah, who prior to his promotion was president of digital publishing for the network, stressed that under the new sales structure the group can sell both vertically and horizontally. "It's more of a question of how customers want to buy from us and how they want us to behave," he said. "I don't want to force advertisers into any segment."

(In a departure from long-held business practices, Time Inc. recently agreed to report circulation sales figures in nearly real time and give advertisers circulation guarantees for each issue in which they buy an ad.)

Just before Time Inc.'s restructuring, The Wall Street Journal announced a major reorganization of its advertising sales operations, giving all regional sales managers responsibility for growing integrated ad sales.

The ad sales integration at Dow Jones combines the print Journal, Wall Street Journal Digital Network (including Barron's Online, MarketWatch.com and WSJ.com) and the international sales and marketing staffs into a single entity. Dow Jones Integrated Ad Solutions has been eliminated.

"We've broken down the silos and opened up the doors for people who want to market across platforms," said Michael Rooney, who in May was named to the newly created position of chief revenue officer of Dow Jones & Co., which publishes the Journal. "We want to give customers the best of both worlds. Advertisers can still buy in a traditional way, but we want clients to understand the cross-platform values in all our properties, and that's where the business is moving."

Rooney added that when advertisers buy across the Journal franchise, they spend an average of 20% more across its properties. "Previously, it was hard to make [integrated ad sales] happen," he said. "Now, it's seamless at the management level," he said.

Recently the Journal has had a tough time adwise. Its ad revenue fell 7.2% in July on a 20.9% decrease in advertising volume. Second-quarter advertising revenue dropped 6.8% (on an 11.4% decline in volume) from the year earlier period.

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