News Corp bids to flex The Wall Street Journal’s global muscle

It has been over a year since Rupert Murdoch secured a $5bn (2.4bn) deal to take control of Dow Jones and The Wall Street Journal, and many have been waiting to see how the media mogul would make his mark on his latest conquest.

It has been over a year since Rupert Murdoch secured a $5bn (2.4bn) deal to take control of Dow Jones and The Wall Street Journal, and many have been waiting to see how the media mogul would make his mark on his latest conquest.

The industry has long suggested that News Corporation would look to create a new commercial position that would combine the UK strength of News International’s Times Media properties with the WSJ’s global muscle.

And it seems there is already movement in this area, with news that Times Media and the WSJ are in talks to push global and regional advertising opportunities to clients (MW last week).

The hope is that by focusing on booking ad campaigns across the titles, they will be able to steal ad revenue from the Financial Times, which operates in similar territories as the WSJ such as the US, Europe and Asia.

But not everyone is convinced. David Goodall, MPG International managing director, says more choice means good news for advertisers, but is sceptical about just how much impact it will have on the FT.

“Asia is probably the big fighting ground for them – I don’t see them competing as directly in other regions. I understand why News Corp is doing it, but The Times is really more in competition with The Daily Telegraph. In terms of bringing the quality of their audience up if they partner with the WSJ then the overall package is better, but I don’t see it myself,” Goodall says.

Meanwhile, the FT says its main point of difference in the UK is the type of business audience it gets against The Times, The Sunday Times and Times Online properties.

Business professionals

FT Europe Middle East and Asia advertising director Dominic Good says that Times Media has been telling advertisers and agencies that it reaches more people in business than the FT, as seen in BBS data. However, it does not give credence to the scope of business professionals the BBS surveys encompass – from the small business owner to the large players.

“We see ourselves as targeting the influence makers and decision makers. When you put that filter on, the position changes and the FT becomes the leading title and The Times is second,” Good adds.

It is not clear just how closely the News Corp-owned titles intend to work together and what their growth targets are, but the FT says much of its revenue comes from cross-region campaigns. In the year to date over 50% of all the FT’s newspaper ad revenue has come from global packages, while three-quarters of its revenue comes from more than one edition.

MPG’s Goodall adds that the launch of the FT magazine, How To Spend It, which is inserted in its weekend edition, opened up “a whole new audience for themselves in terms of advertisers and consumers”.

Similarly, the WSJ this month launched its own glossy quarterly inserted magazine targeting the business elite. The first edition of WSJ magazine boasted more than 50 advertisers, including the likes of Dior and Hermes. It is thought that Murdoch is not so much trying to attract new readers, as more upmarket advertisers.

Yet regardless of how interested advertisers would be in taking up the wider WSJ and Times offer, one media buyer says it would do good for News International to first focus on the biggest internal restructure the publisher has seen in some time, as another Murdoch, son James, looks to put his own stamp on the media company.

Camille Alarcon

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