Jonathan Wright, global managing director, Dow Jones
You’re the global managing director of Dow Jones, responsible for defining and implementing growth strategies around the world. Could you please introduce us a little bit more to what that role entails, and where you see your key priorities as being focused?
“I am based in our Hong Kong office focusing on our businesses outside of the United States,” Wright tells us. “At its core, Dow Jones is a content business. This applies across our well known publications such as The Wall Street Journal, Financial News, MarketWatch and Barron’s, but also in our professional information business – which includes products such as Factiva and Dow Jones Risk & Compliance. My role is to work across all of those divisions, ensuring that we realise the exciting opportunities for international growth.”
“We are a global organisation with employees covering multiple geographies, languages and cultures. One of the critical parts of my role is to understand those regional nuances, identify those opportunities and ensure that the Dow Jones global strategy is delivered.”
With a particular focus on international growth, where do you see key areas of audience and revenue development for the company coming from in 2019 and beyond?
“Where you get your news from has never been more important. The media landscape has never been more challenged but also, I am delighted to say, presenting more opportunities. Global media companies need to get their strategies right in order to take advantage of these opportunities and we are seeing that all around the globe, as publishers reevaluate their business models to ensure a profitable future for professional journalism.”
“From a Dow Jones perspective, there are three things we are particularly focused on: the growth of membership (subscriptions), data, and the expansion of our global events business, which we call ‘live journalism.’ The events business includes global properties such as the WSJ CEO Council in Washington, London and Tokyo and the WSJ Tech D. Live innovation event in California and Hong Kong.
Overseeing the growth and development of such a large existing media entity must surely come with many facets. Where do you like to prioritise your time and resources in terms of maximising return on investment and helping the company to expand as far as possible?
“Three years ago, our CEO, William Lewis, set the business some clear and challenging goals which helped to galvanise our global teams. These included achieving the landmark of three million members for Dow Jones and The Wall Street Journal as well as supercharging growth in our Professional Information Business. With a lot of hard work and collaboration, we have managed to achieve those ambitious goals, and we’re excited about the next stage of that growth trajectory that we are on.”
“Investing in our employees is a crucial component of Dow Jones’ strategy. We want to ensure the best possible environment to help people succeed and to develop their skills and advance their careers. From my experience over the last 8.5 years with the company Dow Jones has been a strong advocate for training, mobility and career development. We have launched a number of internal initiatives to continue to drive that, as well as recently hiring our first ever global chief of diversity and inclusion officer to ensure that we maintain the right culture to drive future growth.”
We recently heard from Joe Martin, the Wall Street Journal’s vice president for commercial partnerships focussing on the Asia-Pacific region, who told us about the emphasis that Dow Jones was placing on global expansion. How big a part will licensing, syndication, and international partnerships play in future growth and how do you see this being implemented?
“Our commercial partnerships team is at the centre of driving a lot of our existing and new partnership work. They focus on franchise, content and subscription partnerships globally. As companies navigate this disruptive period in the global media landscape, we are well positioned to support them. We work with many other publishers – some of them FIPP members – to develop mutually beneficial partnerships, aligned to their commercial objectives which also help to profitably grow our membership outside of our core US market.”
“As an organisation, we are not limited to media and publishing partners. We have examples of successful partnerships from outside of the traditional media space in sectors as diverse as telecommunications and aviation.”
And if we look holistically at all markets right now, where does the breakdown fall between advertiser and user revenues for Dow Jones? Is it a case, as is true with a number of publishers right now, of pivoting towards more subscription based revenues, or are you looking at more general diversification?
“We are fortunate to have three key revenue streams at Dow Jones: advertising, memberships and the professional information business. We have certainly seen a shift in the make-up of these over recent years. For example, as outlined by News Corp CEO, Robert Thomson in the 2018 News Corp annual report, consumer products – that is products such as The Wall Street Journal, Barron’s and MarketWatch – and professional information offerings represented approximately 73 per cent and 27 per cent, respectively, of total Dow Jones revenues.”
“As you speak to publishers around the world there are certainly differing opinions on the role of subscriptions and the appetite in different markets to pay for content. In my opinion, publishers should prioritse protecting their content, better understand their customers and establish subscription businesses where possible.”
“In recent years, we have experienced a flight to quality content, with large upticks in subscriptions across a number of quality publications. Alongside this evolution, we have seen a change in approach from the advertising market. Advertisers are increasingly mindful of the environment that their messages appear in and of the quality of the metrics used to measure campaign performance. I believe that this evolution is positive for professional media outlets who are fighting some of the large platforms for global digital advertising spend.”
Finally, what made you take the decision to join FIPP and what aspects of industry participation are you looking forward to in 2019?
“Dow Jones and our parent company News Corp have always been advocates of organisations that support our industry. If you look at some of the challenges that the industry is now facing, we feel that being part of an entity that helps to promote a common voice for our industry is an important part of our duty to members and advertisers. Many publisher and media operators are engaged in ongoing discussions with the likes of Facebook and Google. Our CEO William Lewis and Robert Thomson, News Corp CEO have been open advocates of protecting professional journalism and making sure that quality, trusted news can pay.”
“I personally believe that it is important for publishers to work through these issues together and that professional journalism is protected and indeed helped to flourish. I see FIPP playing an important role in that work and we are delighted to be engaged in that broader conversation through our membership.”
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