New Dow Jones CEO Addresses Sale Pressure and Online Strategy

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NEW YORK ( -- On Jan. 3, Dow Jones CEO Peter Kann, and his wife, Karen Elliott House, publisher, The Wall Street Journal, surprised the industry by saying they would leave the company they had both been part of for a combined 73 years. (Mr. Kann joined in 1963 as an intern, Ms. House arrived in 1974.) Richard F. Zannino, the chief operating officer, was named as CEO, and will take over on Feb. 1. MediaWorks checked in with Mr. Zannino about the challenges ahead, from reviving MarketWatch to fighting off pressure to sell Dow Jones.
Richard F. Zannino

MediaWorks: Can we expect to see a tighter integration of online and print efforts at Dow Jones?

Richard F. Zannino: Yes, in all areas. We do a pretty good job today of operating between print and online. But going forward we’ll be doing more and more of that in news, marketing and ad sales.

MediaWorks: MarketWatch traffic has sunk notably since Dow Jones bought it and eliminated the CBS branding. What’s going on there?

Mr. Zannino: It’s fallen less because CBS has come off the name and more because we discontinued a portal relationship we had with Yahoo Finance, which was drawing major traffic.

We’re in discussions with Yahoo Finance now in renewing that agreement. But we are best served if MarketWatch is a destination site rather than relying on portals to drive traffic. If you’re Yahoo Finance, you’re competing with MarketWatch, so why would you want to drive traffic there?

We’re working through a win/win situation on that with Yahoo Finance so I think you’ll see the traffic grow again in 2006. And we have destination traffic-building initiatives ahead.

MediaWorks: How is the “Weekend Edition” doing? Is it meeting your expectations or does it have some work ahead of it?

Mr. Zannino: Yes, it is meeting expectations. It’s exceeded reader expectations in terms of surveys that we’ve done. They’re reading it, enjoying it, spending 50 minutes a day with it and in many cases passing it along to family members or other people. Eighty percent are reading all three sections.

From an advertising perspective, we hit our expectations in 2005, which was very exciting. A little more than half the advertising is incremental, meaning new advertising we wouldn’t have had if we didn’t have the “Weekend Edition.” The rest is existing advertisers shifting from Friday to Saturday. A little more than half the advertising is consumer, which is very important; the “Weekend Edition” was intended to increase our penetration of consumer ad markets.

As a result of the “Weekend Edition” and strong Monday to Friday bookings we saw our market share in business-to-business advertising, consumer advertising and total advertising increase in 2005 against our traditional peer group, which generally includes the business magazines, USA Today, The New York Times, the news weeklies.

As we enter 2006 the bar is obviously set higher. We’re looking forward to meeting expectations again in 2006.

MediaWorks: Has the “Weekend Edition” attracted additional personal finance, consumer and non-endemic advertising to the Web site?

Mr. Zannino: Not meaningfully.

MediaWorks: While the Bancroft family makes the final, big decisions, what are the prospects of a sale of the company?

Mr. Zannino: Management here is firmly committed to the independence of Dow Jones. Ultimately it’s not our decision. What we can do is everything in our power to drive our earnings, cash flow and stock price to the level where financially it becomes a moot point.

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