Navigating Shifts in Reader Behavior at Dow Jones

May 27, 2020

In this episode of One Quick Thing, Edward Roussel discusses changes in the news industry and how the Wall Street Journal has pivoted to changes caused by coronavirus. Roussel is Chief Innovation Officer at Dow Jones, where he is responsible for identifying areas of new opportunity, with a focus on startups and relations with Silicon Valley companies.

Impacts of Coronavirus on Dow Jones Offerings

Due to pressures put on the supply chain, Dow Jones is also facing challenges on delivering their print publications, especially to readers outside dense, metropolitan areas. “That’s forcing us…to think about how do we get those people that we can no longer reach a great experience of the Wall Street Journal?” He asks.

According to Roussel, consumption patterns of digital news have also changed during the COVID-19 era. Before the pandemic, he says, there were spikes in web traffic in the morning, toward the end of the workday, and in the late evening. Now, people are visiting the website more frequently, leading to more even traffic patterns throughout the day.

“We’re all here in front of our computers working from home throughout the course of the day. That has an impact…on how we think about notifications,” Roussel says. “If the concept of checking in two, three times a day, is being replaced by an always onapproach, what are the implications for how we publish news?”

Response and Renew

When discussing Dow Jones’ approach to coronavirus, Roussel categorizes reactions into two categories: response and renew.

“The response phase was very much doing what most companies around the US have been doing, which is battening down the hatches, looking at where we can stop spending cash without harming our business, being very disciplined about costs,” Roussel explains.

When it comes to the “renew” strategy, Roussel says, his team thought more deeply about which parts of our business need to change, and what aspects they should change immediately.

“One thin…is this rapid acceleration in the digitization of our business,” Roussel says. “So things that might have taken place over a three to four year period are actually taking place over a three, four month period.”

Keeping Offerings Interactive

Events thrown by the Wall Street Journal and other Dow Jones publications have also been affected. According to Roussel, Dow Jones has an $18 million events business. However with physical gatherings on pause, the company has shifted to digital events. “What we’re seeing right now is there’s a real premium and interactivity,” Roussel says of reader behavior. “There’s this real desire for people to connect and to interact.”

In addition to improving virtual gatherings, Roussel says his team is looking at interactivity opportunities on social media, including instagram. “I’m very confident about that when people can travel again and meet again in person, digital will remain a very important part of the overall experience,” he says.

Shifts in Advertising

Advertising has also shifted dramatically in the journalism world, moving from print ads to digital advertising. Roussel says, “How do we better serve advertisers that want to reach the C-suite? We’re conducting a series of interviews with Chief Marketing Officers. A couple already came up with some great insights that we think will help [the] pipeline.”

This episode of One Quick Thing is sponsored by edison365. edison365, recently led a Master Class webcast for the InnoLead community, and if you missed it live, you can catch the replay. edison365 is the end to end business transformation platform built for Office 365. edison365 allows for the seamless generation, justification, and execution of projects that drive strategic success. Find out more at edison

Watch a recent master class from edison365 on how teams can adapt to disruption with a new model for innovation and execution.

Changes in Subscriber Behavior

InnoLead asked webcast attendees how their news consumption has changed in 2020. Forty-one percent of respondents said that they have increased their spending on subscription based media, and 41 percent said their spending patterns have stayed the same.