WSJ sales move to NDM … but is it the right move?

Ben Shepherd writes: So News Digital Media are now going to represent sites such as, Barrons and Market Watch in the AU market.

Release here –

Ed Smith sounds pretty happy with the result, and I guess there’s reason to be … “The Wall Street Journal is the world’s most respected and recognised financial news source. Combining this with The Times business pages and our recently relaunched Australian Business website, News Digital Media now has one of the most attractive online business products in the market.”

Easy there Ed … I’m not sure how true that statement is … but yes, it does beef out the offering you have in the Business/Finance space.

The Business/Finance space is probably the most interesting one in the local market.

There’s no shortage of competition, and absolutely no shortage of inventory.

Add to this the impacts of the global financial doom crisis/recession/whatever on the finance advertising vertical and 2009 is a critical period for those wanting to sustain their offering around business/finance.

See, it’s commonly believed that the market will pay whatever cost is requested to reach the higher end investor types. In the past this has been somewhat true – and some sites have managed to command CPMs anywhere north of $50.

These times are probably over for most.

Why? Well – there is simply too much supply. In December 2008 between the top 7 or so sites there were over 60m page impressions. Based on a VERY conservative estimate of 3 ads per page – that’s 180m ad impressions served.

Secondly, it is my belief that the finance segment of the advertising market will see pretty minimal growth this year … and a lot of it will come from performance networks like Drive and Adconion. Finance has been a HUGE contributor to the growth of digital display media and if it flattens out it will have large impact. The reasons for this are probably worthy of their own post, but you’d have to assume that banks won’t be falling over themselves trying to lend money to anyone who will take it this year.

Ed Smith made the following comment: ” “, with its finger on the pulse of the global economy and its unmatched coverage of the current economic crisis, is attracting over 150,000 of Australia’s top business and thought leaders and policy and decision makers.”

This is true. However it is not enough right now to just reach this audience. The key in 09 is offering value and insight to advertisers to truly connect with this audience. If you are not doing this, all you are doing is adding more supply into a market that doesn’t really require it (and maybe, just maybe will contract in 2009) … as a result it will become harder and harder to maintain the yield you were once getting. It’s not enough now to simply take orders – sure, it’s been that way for the past 5 years for many publishers … but right now there’s too much competition and other factors prohibiting this.

Here’s the problem. NDM right now doesn’t really have any pedigree in terms of this higher end business audience. It’s not something many would consider core to their business. If you needed advice on the intricacies of this audience you probably wouldn’t pick up the phone and call NDM.

This isn’t a kick in the balls – far from it – it’s just NDM are good at other things and business/finance really doesn’t define their offering. And it’s not enough to come out and say ‘now we know business, consider us when looking for this audience’ … you need to do more.

Effective sales requires 3 things.

Insight – tell me about your audience, tell me things I don’t know and things I can’t find out through general data sources. What makes them tick? How do they use the site? What motivates them?
Ideas – Help me find ways to truly reach this audience when required
Service – Deliver on what you sell, make it painless

If this seems familiar it’s because magazines have been doing this forever and do it very well.

Right now, I doubt NDM can deliver on anything but service for this specific audience. They don’t presently have the ideas or insight to truly bring value to someone wanting to reach this audience. They can build this – but it will take time.

If I was involved in this I would look at outsourcing domestic sales of the WSJ, Barrons etc to a group that have a more meaningful connection with this market. The natural fit is Business Spectator.

The reason is simple – Kohler, Gottliebsen and Bartholomeusz are the 3 most respected commentators in the finance arena and mean something to consumers and advertisers. These three understand what motivates their readers and as a result their commercial team can work with advertisers to connect with them in a way that compliments the experience and still maintains editorial independence. The value this offers is much more than just the value of the eyeball – it’s a much more important than that. The ad impression is simply the end result – not the centre of the transaction. A premium brand will work better when aligned with another premium brand.

Now, they are sold by Tempest right now (in a perfect world it would be in house as there’s much more potential in that) but gee there is some potential in this offering. Just like there’s potential in a technology expert like Cnet selling larger portal’s technology offerings. Or Sportal selling their sports offerings. Or Allure Media selling the blog content of SMH and NDM.

NDM selling WSJ is far better than no one selling it – or a third party network claiming to sell it and marking it up 100+% to local advertisers for facilitating the transaction … but will it get the best possible extraction for WSJ?


Liam Walsh writes: I understand the point about asking about help about the business category. I would contact the Spectator folks first.

But I also have the Australian business site as my home page so I am extremely positive about NDM’s ability to attract business revenue. They have a good sales team and the content from The Times, WSJ and their own journalists is very good.

It is a little hard for NDM in that they are not known as the business specialists but that is something they have control over and I beleieve they will probably be able to shift that perception.

The problem with dropping WSJ inside something like Spectator is that each dollar written to Spectator will be a full dollar while each dollar written on WSJ would be a percentage of a dollar. One can do some tricky quota structures for sales folk but nobody can change the reality that there will be bias to selling owned and operated over non owned.

Btw, I would like more of the WSJ content to be free to markets outside the US as there is seemingly no point protecting print revenue in Australia where there isnt any?

Overall I think NDM will do a good job and it should help their business enormously.


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