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McLeod feels need for speed

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One Friday in September, Gordon McLeod walked out of the office as general manager of Time Inc. Interactive and went to work the following Monday as president of Dow Jones Online, a new position.

Clearly, urgency is an issue for McLeod as well as for Dow Jones, which is seeking to comprehensively integrate its core WSJ.com product with MarketWatch.com and Barron's Online.

McLeod wasn't handed a specific to-do list by Todd Larsen, COO of Dow Jones Co.'s Consumer Media Group. Rather, the mandate he was given was about speed and percentage, meaning his task is to work fast to take advantage of the growth opportunities the medium presents.

Dow Jones Online attracts nearly 10 million unique visitors per month with its marquee brand names, and total online ad revenue was up 20% for the year's first three quarters compared with the same period last year. Still, there are challenges to address. Year over year, at both WSJ.com and Marketwatch.com, average monthly unique visitors declined during the first three quarters while average page views rose.

Over the next few months, McLeod plans a number of products and site enhancements that, he said, will attract both advertisers and readers.

At Marketwatch.com, which was acquired by Dow Jones in January 2005, the search function will be made faster by the end of this month and, for the first time, include search results from outside sources such as TheStreet.com, Motley Fool and WSJ.com. Users also will be able to access relevant video, audio and podcasts from MarketWatch.

At WSJ.com, a new section, "Market Data Center," debuts Jan. 2. It puts extensive stock listings and tables online and will be free to both site subscribers and nonsubscribers alike. The center's launch date is in conjunction with the redesign of The Wall Street Journal.

The opportunity to generate ad revenue from video is particularly exciting, McLeod said. Dow Jones Online recently launched a broadband video network on the three sites that features original content from the company's reporters, columnists and bloggers. The free videos are available both to subscribers and nonsubscribers. Advertisers can buy 15-second preroll ads, but in order to maintain site integrity, ads will only run before every other video, McLeod said.

In its first month of operation, Dow Jones' video player streamed a greater-than-expected 500,000 videos. McLeod said he aspires to have the Dow Jones video team producing at least 50 pieces of original content each day, ranging from breaking news reports and in-studio and satellite interviews with newsmakers to on- location events and lifestyle segments.

"We're not known as a video site," Mcleod said. "We want and need more inventory to meet the demand" from advertisers.

McLeod worked at Time for six years, and most recently, oversaw Web sites for more than 80 titles. He also served as president of Sports Illustrated's Web sites and SI Picture sales. M

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