WSJ Partners with Acura for Sponsored News Section

As traditional newspaper advertising revenues continue to decline, some well known outlets are exploring new means of bringing in revenue through specialty online partnerships with advertisers that tie specifically to their news content. Financial news bastion The Wall Street Journal’s digital arm this week partnered with automaker Acura to launch a new section focused on emerging technology sponsored by Acura’s Innovation for Life campaign, as well as its own All Things Digital online section focused on technology.

The companies worked together to create the Innovations for Life special advertising section, which is hosted on the Journal’s site and fully sponsored by the automaker. Wall Street Journal Digital Network content covering emerging technology, regardless of the sector, feeds directly to the sponsored section, according to Mike Jensen, sales director South West for the Wall Street Journal Digital. Acura was keen to align its brand with not only automotive technological innovation, but innovation as a whole, he said.

“We’re keeping it loose to look at what is the new and talk about a technology,” Jensen said. “If we had automotive technology, there would be some people interested in that, but it maybe too small of a segment.”

The site will include archive news, breaking news and videos from the Wall Street Journal Digital Network, which includes Barron’s Online and MarketWatch.com. Acura is also the primary advertiser on the newly-launched All Things Digital technology news and opinions section of WSJ Digital, which is also expected to provide a large amount of the stories for the Innovations for Life sponsored site.

As traditional print advertising revenues dwindle, WSJ and other news organizations are searching for new means of working with advertisers, including creating sites that link their news content directly to issues a brand wants to be identified with. The sponsored microsite partnership echoes similar projects that WSJ has done with UPS, and a MarketWatch.com partnership with British Airways.

News organization Reuters also partnered with British Airways to provide ads linked to specific news topics, and had previously structured a similar deal with GE to link ads to stories with an Eco-business heading to its Ecomagination product and marketing initiative. In a slightly different vein, the New York Times created a hosted microsite within its network specifically for FedEx video advertisements.

Jensen predicts news outlets will increasingly explore new relationships with advertisers based on content.

“You’re going to see more leadership brands like the Journal listening, being more solution-oriented and sitting down with clients to come up with more interesting programs along with traditional advertising,” he said. “The fundamental goal is we want to see activity on Innovations for Life. We want to see that people are watching the videos, and that people do choose to visit Acura to a certain degree.”

Beyond news and videos, the new Innovations for Life site will also include new territory for WSJ for a sponsored site; a sweepstakes for tickets to The Wall Street Journal’s “D: All Things Digital” conference.

“That part of it is an interesting element that we haven’t done much before, offering an additional pay-off for readers as they come in and engage with the content,” Jensen admitted.

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