The new network won't follow Captivate into elevators, but instead will use building lobbies to present up-to-date Wall Street Journal news, local building announcements and, of course, advertising.
Dow Jones is kicking off the program with a deal with Trizec Properties (terms were undisclosed) to get screens into office buildings in Chicago, Los Angeles, New York and Washington. The first monitors will be in place in about 40 buildings by July; the Journal estimates about 100,000 people will see those initial screens every day.
"Our strategy is to get our Journal brand and content to people however, whenever and wherever they want to get it," said L. Gordon Crovitz, who was promoted in February from head of electronic publishing to exec VP, Dow Jones; president, Dow Jones Consumer Media Group; and publisher, Wall Street Journal Franchise. "As a publisher across print and digital and other media, the opportunity to reach people while they're in the office buildings was a great opportunity from us."
The Journal hopes working without elevators will prove advantageous in some ways. "We do think of this as a differentiated product," said Matthew Goldberg, VP-franchise development and partnership, Dow Jones. "It will be in high-traffic high-rise and low-rise buildings," he said, arguing that low-rise buildings are less attractive for elevator advertising.
Captivate President-General Manager Mike DiFranza said he wasn't surprised at the new competition. "But it's all about scale and how many people you reach," he said. "We have a substantial lead that we plan on not giving up to anybody."
Goal was to surpass WSJ
Captivate has expanded aggressively since its inception in 1997 -- when one goal was to eventually reach more business professionals than The Wall Street Journal -- but has grown faster still since Gannett bought it in April 2004 and provided new capital. Now Captivate's silent elevator screens reach more than 2.2 million viewers a day, Mr. DiFranza said, and passed the Journal's average paid circulation of 2 million earlier this year. Advertisers include Jeep, Expedia, Volkswagen, Sony, Symantec, Travelocity and Lexus.
Mr. DiFranza also argued that elevators are the only way to go. "If you think about human nature and how people interact with media and think about how somebody walks through the doors of the building, you're on a mission to get somewhere," he said. "You want to find the natural bottleneck in that process. The lobby execution relies on somebody interacting with their normal flow to engage with the medium."
Captivate has seen competition before, Mr. DiFranza added. "The world is littered with carnage from the companies that have tried to do this before," he said. He declined to describe Captivate's financial performance, citing Gannett policy.