Journal to Personalize Editorial to Boost Subscriber Retention

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The Wall Street Journal Interactive Edition plans to deliver personalized editorial content on its home page at within the next two months in a bid to drive up subscriber retention rates.

"We're trying to redefine how we use customer data to shape the product," said Thomas Baker, vice president and general manager of Wall Street Journal Interactive, Princeton, NJ.

"The day you come in [and register for a subscription], you tell us a few things about yourself. Right now the front page doesn't reflect that."

Currently, about 80 percent of the Interactive Journal's subscribers renew annually, said Baker, adding that the top complaint from those who leave is that they couldn't find the news they wanted.

"The No. 1 complaint was not that they didn't like the product. If we can successfully surface things and get you to come back, our retention rates will go up," said Baker.

Personalized front-page content marks a major shift in the Interactive Journal's original editorial philosophy. "We've gone through an evolution. When we first started, we were very religious about keeping things stable," said Baker.

The move also comes on the heels of a shift toward more personalized ad content. "Because we're registration based, we can tell you things that other sites can't," said Baker. During registration, the Journal's online subscribers supply their ages, genders, geographic locations, company types, professions and company sizes.

As a result, the company recently announced that it is enabling advertisers to reach subscribers through a program offered in collaboration with online ad network DoubleClick, New York, called Bull's-Eye Targeting.

"We've created popular profiles such as companies with fewer than 100 employees, but virtually any question or combination of questions on the registration form can be used to create a unique profile," said Randy Kilgore, advertising director for the Interactive Journal.

Interactive Journal advertisers can also reach the online publication's subscribers by the number of personal stock transactions they've made over the last 12 months. The company said it protects subscribers' privacy by assigning each a unique number.

The Wall Street Journal Interactive Edition charges $65 and up per thousand impressions and never discounts its rate card, said Baker. Also, just 50 percent of its inventory goes unsold, compared with industry estimates that 80 percent of an average site's inventory goes unsold.

The Interactive Journal last week claimed 283,000 paid subscribers, two thirds of who are not print subscribers and 10 percent of who log in from outside the United States.

Separately, the Interactive Journal's parent Dow Jones & Company, New York, is set to launch an advertising-, sponsorship- and e-commerce-supported business services site Dow Jones Business Center at

The site will offer search index of some 2,000 sites deemed by Dow Jones' editors as useful to business Internet surfers. The site also will offer stock quotes, personal finance tools, a marketplace for business-to-business products and pay-per-view access to premium business content.

The Dow Jones Business Center has drawn more than $3 million in sponsorship commitments so far, according to published statements.

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