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WSJ Office Network lobbies for customers at workplace

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The Wall Street Journal Office Network that launches this week provides yet another media vehicle for advertisers to reach potential customers in an at-work setting.

Developed by Office Media Network, the service will deliver market indexes, weather and news from The Wall Street Journal on flat-panel LCD screens in the lobbies of office buildings.

The network is debuting in office buildings owned by Trizec Properties in Chicago, Los Angeles, New York and Washington, D.C., said Jim Harris, CEO of Office Media Network. The program will be expanded to other cities later this year.

Harris said 30% of the screen's pixels will be devoted to advertising. "We're doing things to make sure the advertising is much more powerful and have avoided a single template in which viewers are trained to filter the ads," he said.

The introduction of the WSJ Office Network is the latest move by parent Dow Jones & Co. to boost the presence of its flagship Wall Street Journal .

"Our strategy is to get our brands in the control of customers however, whenever and wherever they want," said L. Gordon Crovitz, exec VP of Dow Jones and publisher of The Wall Street Journal. "This is an opportunity to get the brand in a place where people work because you're not likely to be reading the Journal , your laptop or your BlackBerry if you're walking into an office space."

Crovitz said WSJ Office Network, along with the Journal's other media platforms in print and online, can "help put fragmented audiences back together for advertisers."

WSJ Office Network is competition for Captivate Network, which provides programming and advertising on 7,000 TV screens in elevators in U.S. office buildings, reaching roughly 2 million people every business day.

John Bigay, VP-marketing and programming at Captivate, said he does not consider WSJ Office Network a threat. "You're comparing the percentage of people who come through a building and can be categorized as a visitor versus all of the people who work in a building and are interested in getting into the elevator as quickly as possible."

Although Dow Jones has no plans to place screens inside elevators, there will be some overlap among high-rise office buildings that carry both the WSJ Office Network and Captivate Networks.

Sarah Fay, president of Isobar Americas, a division of marketing services holding company Aegis, said the introduction of WSJ Office Network is not a zero-sum game.

"If I was embracing alternative forms of business advertising and was trying to reach a business audience, I'd be looking for opportunities to mass a bigger audience," she said. "It shouldn't be an either/or buy. Both [WSJ Office Network and Captivate] are contained media buys and don't eat up a lot of budget."

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