Wall Street Journal Aims Video Content And Ads At NewFronts

nina-lawrence-wsj“Can the TV upfronts work in digital, too?”

This is a question the Wall Street Journal’s Nina Lawrence gets to consider after she and her WSJ team present their wares at today’s Digital Content NewFronts, produced by the IAB.

With only five months under her belt as VP of Global Marketing and Advertising Sales, after transitioning from Condé Nast, Lawrence says her new company’s video offerings draw strong interest from digital agencies and drive the WSJ’s participation in digital marketing’s answer to the television upfront.

According to Lawrence, the Journal’s video product includes 100 hours a month of original video content distributed across 30 platforms, netting out to 23 million video streams a month – 125% growth over last year.

She adds that the Journal has also grown from its business and financial industry roots by including new content categories and broadening its readership to leaders of all kinds, including “style and cultural leaders.”

Lawrence discussed NewFronts and her company’s offerings last week.

AdExchanger: Beyond the products and syndication, what are the opportunities for the Journal to monetize video as it relates to ads?

NINA LAWRENCE: We’re mostly talking about pre-roll ads, depending on what the product is. We tend to take a 360-degree approach to our advertising sales, such that we can include our print and digital packages and allow our advertising partners to take ownership of an editorial conversation by wrapping their advertising around it.

Is all your pre-roll direct-sold?

Yes, we have a high direct-sale of our video products. We feel we’re in a pretty good place.

We’re a mirror of marketplace trends on some levels. Money is moving from other sources in advertising and marketing budgets, and it differs by client. Sometimes it’s moving from their in-store events and sometimes it will come from their traditional media buckets. One way or the other, their investment in video is expanding, and we’re participating in that.

What are some of the success metrics you’re going to be examining in regards to NewFront’s success?

We were invited to participate in this by the digital media community and already enjoy a level of awareness, meaning we don’t have to start from square one. I’m pretty certain some people in the room will be surprised by the expansiveness of what we’re doing. We’re going out and creating globally a lot of content, learning and growing as we do it.

And we’re on 30 platforms with core partners like YouTube, Roku and Hulu, as well as Apple’s iPhone and iPad.

What’s more important here – building out these syndication partnership opportunities with the content you’re building, or continuing to build on the Journal properties?

That’s a good question. One of our corporate product people would say something different than I would, because our endgame is to generate ad revenue.

Whichever way we can do that best, we’re going to pursue. At the same time, we want to engage our consumers, as a franchise, in all the ways they want to be engaged. Somewhere in the mix of those two objectives is where our strategy lives.

A lot of media companies are in transition, as you know, and print-based media companies are retrenching. Nevertheless, we continue to expand, launching 20 products in the last year. They’re digital products, they’re video products – we even launched a magazine, WSJ Money.

If all goes well with this NewFront, what do you hope will happen at the next one in 2014?

If we have a year to imagine what we want to do, we’ll innovate that much more. It’s sort of pedestrian, but that’s what happens when you put a goal out in front of you.

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