'WSJ' seeks consumer ads by returning to weekends

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Dow Jones & Co.'s Wall Street Journal last week ended years of speculation, announcing it would once again publish a Saturday edition beginning Sept. 10, 2005.

"We think there are consumers and advertisers that will find this a more attractive environment," said Karen Elliott House, publisher of the paper.

The Saturday edition will resemble the iconic daily and retail for $1.50. In place of its recent lifestyle section additions-"Weekend Journal" on Fridays and "Personal Journal" Tuesdays through Thursdays-will be a new section called "Pursuits," which Ms. House described as being "magazine-styled."

The Journal's push into weekend publication is seen a dual attempt to bring in more consumer advertising to the nation's second-largest daily and to make a run at marketer dollars being spent in newspapers during the weekend.

Ad revenue for Journal's Saturday edition, said Dow Jones Exec VP-Chief Operating Officer Richard Zannino, "will come mainly from consumer advertising."

hedging a drop

The Journal has hedged a severe drop in ad dollars in its technology and business-to-business bailiwick-partially, at least-via new consumer ad dollars derived from its Weekend and Personal Journal sections. Mr. Zannino said Weekend Journal's yearly ad revenues approached $50 million, and the more-recently-launched Personal Journal sections' ad revenues are "rapidly closing in" on that figure.

Given the response of one media buyer who buys financial advertising, the Saturday emphasis on consumer dollars could be helpful. "People have a hard time buying Monday and Friday, because the core business is Tuesdays through Thursdays," said Carolyn Dow, VP-assistant media director for Interpublic Group of Cos.' Hill Holiday Connors Cosmopulous, Boston, which buys for Putnam Investments and John Hancock Financial Services. She suggested the advertisers may hold back buys until it's proved readers "are going to want to consume that information on a weekend."

Fat Sunday papers contribute a disproportionately large chunk of revenue to most newspapers' coffers, but Saturday is typically the weakest-selling day of the week. Paul Steiger, the Journal`s top editor, said one driver of the decision to publish Saturday was "lots of news happens on Friday, and not much happens on Saturday." Obviously, the Monday edition will no longer carry stock tables, but Mr. Steiger said any other changes to the Monday Journal would be minimal.

Subscription rates at The Journal will not rise, at least at first. "Our assumption is that the circulation will begin as the same" of the daily Journal, said Ms. House, "and it may grow on weekends."

The Journal last published a Saturday edition in 1953.

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