WSJ Holds Online Open House

The Wall Street Journal is reprising its “open house” marketing effort, opening up its online edition to the general public for a week in hopes of luring more paid subscribers.

Beginning November 7, the “open house” will offer all of Online Journal’s content up to non-subscribers, with key advertisers footing the bill. Companies like Sprint, Charles Schwab and Chase Bank USA will each sponsor a day of the promotion, and will be featured prominently in online and offline properties of Online Journal parent Dow Jones & Co.

Sponsors’ ads will be shown almost exclusively on the Online Journal site that day, and sponsors will be integrated into advertising that will run on more than a dozen Web sites, as well as in the Wall Street Journal, MarketWatch and the print version of Barron’s. Local radio ads in the New York area will also promote the open house.

As a result of the “open house” last year, more than 90 percent of the people who signed up for a free trial became paid subscribers, according to Todd Larsen, president of consumer electronic publishing at Dow Jones. According to Dow Jones’ latest SEC filings, the company has 764,000 paid subscribers, up 9 percent in the last year, with 172,000 visiting the site on an average day.

“One of the many advantages of the paid content model is that we have the opportunity from time to time to open our site up in order to showcase our many great features to hundreds of thousands of potential new subscribers,” Larsen said.

The stated goals of this year’s open house are similar to those of the 2004 campaign — driving increased traffic to the site, attracting new subscribers and providing incremental advertising revenue. Last year, weekly unique visitors increased by 90 percent over the weekly average, and nearly 10,000 new subscriptions resulted. The annual subscription price for the Online Journal is $99, while print subscribers pay a discounted price of $49.

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