Famed for its achievement in attracting more than 1 million paying subscribers to its paywall, branded product, the Wall Street Journal Online (WSJ.com; http://online.wsj.com), Dow Jones & Co. (www.dowjones.com) is now launching a premium service at a higher price point. The primary attraction for the new Wall Street Journal Professional Edition lies in its incorporation of Factiva content. The service will integrate content from 17,000 Factiva sources with WSJ.com content to create news flows covering key industries, companies, etc. Users will also be able to search a 1-year archive of Factiva and a 2-year archive of WSJ.com content. The price will run $49 a month or about $600 a year; that will include access to full-text articles for no additional transactional pricing, unlike the $2.95 per article paid under most other Factiva subscriptions. The product has already launched with enterprise customers and will launch for consumers in January 2010.
The new service orients itself around specific industries, letting users customize their news feeds and alerts, as well as stay on top of breaking news. The sophisticated search-and-sort Factiva SmartSearch technology locates and categorizes news and articles into a relevancy-ranked news flow of interest to users following industry and company trends. Six key industry sections- Pharmaceuticals, Healthcare, Energy, Media and Marketing, Telecommunications, and Technology-are continuously managed by a small staff of Wall Street Journal editors who select news and information of key interest from Dow Jones publications and Factiva sources. These editors will occasionally produce "deep dives" on hot topics, e.g., swine flu.
Brigitte Ricou-Bellan, vice president and managing director for researcher and knowledge workers at Dow Jones Enterprise Media Group, says the deep dives identify "must-reads and tools to quickly drill down in key companies, key people, key industries, and keywords."
According to Ricou-Bellan, Wall Street Journal Pro "combines the resources of the best business news site, WSJ.com, with the limited archives of a ‘lite Factiva.'" At present, the product is marketed in the U.S., though Dow Jones has already had inquiries from global companies outside the U.S. and has future plans to expand internationally, probably first in Asia. Future plans also include delivery to mobile computing devices based on the availability already available in Factiva.
Some reports on the new service have placed the availability of industry pages at about 30. Actually, there are 25 top-level pages at present with more than 120 subindustry pages. The top-level pages cover Accounting & Consulting, Advertising & Marketing, Airlines, Automobiles, Banking, Broadcasting & Entertainment, Computer Hardware, Computer Software, Construction & Real Estate, Consumer Goods & Services, Defense & Aerospace, Energy, Finance, Financial Services & Insurance, Health Care, Industrial Goods & Services, Internet Services, Media, Natural Resources & Commodities, Pharmaceuticals, Retail, Technology, Telecommunications, Transportation, and Utilities. Users can customize their homepages and define their news alerts to reach news on specific issues, companies, industries, or hot topics. A graphic display handles the layout of search results.
Payment for the service follows two models, according to Ricou-Bellan: "The model in enterprise or corporate sales has payments made and bills paid under enterprise contracts. In January we will offer individual subscriptions using credit cards, PayPal, and other such payment options available on the WSJ.com site, plus a cross-reference to different properties such as Barrons." The enterprise payment options include discounts for subscriptions requesting more than the 10-seat minimum.
Whenever information companies start introducing new business models, issues of cannibalization seem to arise. Ricou-Bellan indicated, "Our goal is to attract a subset of WSJ.com users, but we're co-existing with our other products, not replacing them." Any WSJ.com user who upgrades to Wall Street Journal Pro will not lose any content access available in the less expensive service.
Nonetheless, will users, particularly in these tough economic times, find ways to exploit the new access route to reduce their expenditures and, hence, the vendor's revenue? Flat-fee subscription packages always arouse some concern in this area. Though some of the reasons behind the limits on sources tapped from Factiva stem from the desire to target content of particular interest to the U.S. market, Ricou-Bellan says that some of WSJ.com's content providers would not go along with the new business model. "We had to go to our content providers. Most were happy about the opportunity," she said, "but a few were against it."
Even though the aggregated full-text commercial sources on Factiva may not have all made their way into the new service, the 11,000 key websites and blogs identified by Dow Jones as having substantive value have "mostly been included, except for the non-English language sites," according to Ricou-Bellan.
Promotional material for the new service advertises the benefit of "Sharing and Collaboration: Share alerts with peers, teams, or clients." When asked how much sharing would be allowed, however, how much distribution a single user could make either to colleagues within their enterprise or to outside clients, Ricou-Bellan stated, "If it's just one article to colleagues or peers, that's okay, but otherwise, as with any Dow Jones product, a person to whom content is sent would have to be permissioned. The users should be licensed." As to sharing with clients, she stated that "we do have an external reader model that enables companies with partners or customers to buy light usage. We could work that out with Wall Street Journal Pro, but it's not set up for it yet." As to wide circulation within an enterprise, Ricou-Bellan recommended they "turn to their library or knowledge center," where-one would assume-information professionals would be using industrial strength Factiva. However, she did indicate that they would also like to see Wall Street Journal Pro users upgrade at some point in time. Though they have not built in a bridge to upgrading to Factiva as of yet, they were exploring that option.
Several commentators on the new service opined that Thomson Reuters and Bloomberg would regard Wall Street Journal Pro as competition to their services. It would seem difficult for either source to compete with the Factiva collection as a business information resource. Only LexisNexis has more full-text sources, and it is owned by Reed Elsevier. Bloomberg recently bought BusinessWeek and redesigned its website. Despite claims in some of the Wall Street Journal Pro literature, Ricou-Bellan told me that Reuters News was not available, nor was BusinessWeek; though, for the latter, she said that matters were still "under discussion." However, even without two such well-known brands as Reuters and BusinessWeek, details on the 17,000 out of the 23,000 sources tapped from Factiva for the new service indicate more than 5,500 business and trade journals and more than 600 wires, including some 2,400 sources that were available on or before the date of publication.