Dow Jones & Co.'s online property will get much the same circulation respect as the print flagship in an effort by the business publisher for better advertiser acceptance.
The New York publisher will report the U.S. print and applicable online subscribers of The Wall Street Journal in its latest Audit Bureau of Circulations statement. It also will integrate sales and marketing for the paper and its online sibling at www.wsj.com.
“Including electronic circulation in the ABC statement is part of a Dow Jones initiative to better leverage the entire Journal franchise,” said Nicole Pyhel, senior manager of corporate communications at Dow Jones.
The decision lets Dow Jones report total paid U.S. circulation for the Journal at 2,091,062, the highest since the company started publishing in 1889.
The U.S. print Journal claims 1,800,650 copies and WSJ.com 686,000 paid subscribers. The international editions bring in another 175,000 subscribers. Though this totals a worldwide circulation of 2,661,650 copies, only 2,091,062 are reported under ABC rules.
Put simply, two types of subscribers are included in the new U.S. ABC statement. Print subscribers to the U.S. Journal edition are one. The other circulation source is individuals online paying $79 a year, which, under ABC rules, is more than 25 percent (or $47.25) of the print Journal's basic subscription price.
Three types of subscribers are not included in the new ABC statement. At the top are online Journal subscribers who pay less than 25 percent a year for their subscription. Next, subscribers who get both editions are counted only once. Finally, online Journal subscribers who pay a group, corporate or educational rate are excluded.
Dow Jones' move is a strong signal to advertisers that its online subscribers are as valuable as its print edition's.
“We believe that it will enable us to better communicate to our advertisers and potential readers that the Journal franchise serves a large, growing base of similarly high demographic readers who receive our content in different forms of distribution,” Pyhel said.
“We see our large paid-user base as a unique advantage over its competitors,” she said.
Dow Jones claims circulation of its U.S. print Journal has held steady while rival publications have seen declines. The online Journal also is the largest paid online circulation product among peers.
For example, while The New York Times has heavy traffic to its site at www.nytimes.com, it claims only 2,889 paid subscriptions, according to the March 2003 ABC statement. Similarly, Investor's Business Daily reported only 650 paid subscribers.
Meanwhile, Dow Jones plans to market more aggressively its print and online subscriptions. Cross-promotions of both publications are imminent.
Advertisers can continue to run ads in the print or online Journal separately or in both. But changes are planned for next year. Journal advertisers who maintain or increase their level of print advertising while adding small incremental online spending will get a 30 percent bonus on the value of the online increment that is applicable either in print or on WSJ.com.
Also, Dow Jones expects advertisers to benefit from the ability to target particular segments of online subscribers. And large advertisers can use a newly installed sales program that combines print and online Journals with advertising across company-owned Barron's newspaper and on CNBC and Wall Street Journal Radio Network.