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WSJ.com looks past 'paid vs. free'

MORE FOR NONSUBSCRIBERS

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Nonsubscribers also have access to more content, including new sections in Sports, Politics, Food & Wine and Lifestyle. All the site's video content, which has been expanded and will play in an updated Brightcove player, is also free. Two new technological offerings are also available to nonsubscribers. One is the Newsreel, an RSS feed that highlights the most important stories of each major section; it can be ported to users' MySpace or Facebook pages or their blogs. The other is the mobile reader, which is currently only available for BlackBerry devices. “I think the redesign is a success,” said Jeffrey Dearth, partner at media investment bank DeSilva+Phillips. “The design is more colorful and less stodgy, and I'm impressed with the way they're integrating all their assets into a network.” At the top right-hand side of the redesigned WSJ.com, a visitor sees “The Wall Street Journal Digital Network,” followed by tabs that allow users to jump to MarketWatch, Barron's and D: All things Digital. It's more than just a navigation bar. “Our push here is to create a network of scale that still has our quality,” McLeod said. From August 2007 through August 2008, the Wall Street Journal Digital Network audience jumped 58%, from 17.9 million to 28.2 million unique monthly visitors. “We're growing our audience as a network buy in addition to site-by-site buys,” McLeod said. “This is another way we're able to leverage scale for a variety of different b-to-b categories.” Meanwhile, each of the sites is now “leveraging content from across the network far more aggressively than we ever have,” he said. “We were sitting on all this great content, and we weren't maximizing the use of it.” Although the demographics for the four Web sites are similar, “the duplication is less than 10% between any two of our sites,” McLeod noted. “MarketWatch is very close to the Journal demographically. Barron's is above the Journal in income. All Things D has a higher education level.” McLeod added: “The Journal has always been known as a great branding opportunity. We now have the reach and audience to look at other areas. We're looking at performance advertising where we can really tier our inventory and do things we couldn't do before because we weren't big enough.” Although Dearth and other observers continue to wonder how long WSJ.com will continue to use two different business models, McLeod said, “We love our business model. We love our subscribers, and we also love our growing audience. We like the dual revenue stream of advertising and subscriptions.” M
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