The Wall Street Journal this month launched a digital extension of the vertically focused Journal Reports section that has been a strong advertising performer for the print side of the publication. The rebranded Journal Report integrates print and digital to offer more advertising real estate than the publisher could fit into traditional column inches, said Romy Newman, general manager-print.
“There is a strong business case for this,” she said. “We had more demand than supply. This is a coveted opportunity because of the vertical nature of the section.”
Journal Report launched with a focus on wealth management and will span six verticals linked to the 60 print sections planned to run in the Journal this year. The publication has recruited 100 subject matter experts who will contribute to an online conversation that augments the independent reporting produced by the Journal staff.
Experts will contribute to a back-and-forth blog feed, debating issues of energy, healthcare, leadership, retirement, small business and wealth management. Live-streamed video conferencing tools capture the conversation as well, with the Journal experimenting with such technologies as Google+ Hangout and Spreecast. David Foster, co-executive producer of the television program “House,” sat down with Elliot Fisher, professor of medicine at Dartmouth, and Rita Redberg, cardiologist and professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, last week.
“The fundamental improvement is making it more intimate and conversational,” Newman said. “And that happens online.”
The audience is interested. Page views rose to more than 100,000 within the first week of the relaunch, double what the section generated previously, according to the company.
Advertisers are buying across print and digital platforms, Newman said, so an integrated approach works best. And the format will also increase the visibility of the section and help the publication capture the momentum that customarily follows one of its print reports. “On any particular topic [covered in the print reports], there has been a dramatic spike in traffic to it,” Newman said. “We wanted to make that refresh daily.”
Experts bring more than star-quality bylines to the content they generate. “We identify individuals who are subject matter experts and who have a strong social footprint, who can drive traffic,” Newman said.
The resulting content is not only captured live and in a digital archive; it will also migrate to a modernized print layout that includes excerpts from the online conversation. The Journal also sees the potential of organizing and broadcasting live panel discussions and other events, Newman said.
“The reality is that every product needs a great digital strategy,” Newman said. “Even print products.”