It goes without saying that Wall Street Journal has been one of the most successful newspaper of its time. Especially within the financial community. You ask anyone over 35 and you will realize the amount of respect WSJ has. However, if you ask a teenager the same question and you may receive altogether a different answer.
This is because WSJ has been truly late to the Internet party and hasn’t really capitalized it as a major distribution channel. The whole online experience is restricted to paying customers only. There is very minimal information which is available for free. Sure they have 900k users paying for this. However that is peanuts when you compare this to any other news sites or portals. There is much more to be had with ad based revenue.
Enter Mr. Keith Rupert Murdoch who has had his eye on WSJ and its parent company DowJones for sometime now. Today he got his wish as the DowJones board reached a definitive agreement to be bought by Murdoch’s News Corp. Murdoch is known to spin things around and leverage synergies to derive most value from his businesses. There has been some speculation about him revamping the well know WSJ property of DowJones. Frankly I couldn’t agree more. Its makeover time baby!!
Here are some of my thoughts around what WSJ needs to become current and successful in the online world.
Make it Free
Fred Wilson has a nice post on this topic and agree with him 100%. Murdoch needs to let WSJ loose to the community. We all have seen the success of CNN, Google News and not to mention Digg following the ad revenue model. WSJ can easily capitalize on that, especially with the awesome content it produces. I must say I hate receiving WSJ links from friends only to realize that I cant read the entire story without subscription.
Making it free would allow it to garner boatloads of traffic and related ad revenue.
Make it Cool
WSJ still has the feeling of a old financial newspaper. It serves well for people who like. However the times are changing. People have much better ways to consume content. The competition is using rich media as a channel to deliver news and information.
WSJ will have to get on this bandwagon and might I say in a big way. They will have to embrace Video, Flash and other technologies across the site. Their popularity and content will bring the masses but the rich media delivery will keep them loyal.
Tap the Youth Segment
Youth are the customers of tomorrow. Today WSJ has little or no brand presence in the youth community nor does it try to get in. However it has to realize that tapping that segment is key to its long term strategy.
WSJ under Murdoch can leverage the intelligence from MySpace and other properties. Heck it can even use those properties as a channel to deliver information and get the presence.
Expand Beyond Finance
WSJ primarily has been known to be a financial news service. However I do think they do an excellent job covering other elements too. Need I mention Walt Mossberg. They must use the brand presence and effectively foray into other domains to become a 360 degree offering.
This extreme makeover is the key to WSJ’s success online. It has the potential and the muscle to get the job done. It remains to be seen how Murdoch drives this. I have a feeling that he may surprise us.