The Wall Street Journal ad sales department was corporately embarrassed by its long-term contract with CNBC that guarantees the competitor to new sibling Fox Business News prominent visibility at WSJ.com. News Corp has also been the last of the major media companies to embrace integrated sales and marketing, believing that media values can be optimized by separate and distinct independent sales structures. Even Fox News maintains the ad sales for Fox News Interactive separate from Fox Interactive, the home of MySpace.
So what are the prospects for The Wall Street Journal sales organization, which has just completed a major restructuring focused on integrating assets under a single sales umbrella? As a result, several senior executives have left the building either voluntarily or at the request of new sales head Michael Rooney. Rooney joined WSJ from ESPN, where he was part of a successful integrated sales and marketing structure, which he has cloned at WSJ. However, based on results from the recently published sixth annual Myers Survey of Advertising Executives on Online Sales Organization Performance, Rooney may not only be confronting a new parent company that has less appetite for integration but he may also have fixed a sales organization that wasn't broken. The data below details the sales organization performance of the WSJ.com sales group in comparison to 12 online business, technology and science sites included in the Myers study.
Since Rooney joined WSJ earlier this year, the company either dismissed or lost Mike Henry, who headed Dow Jones Integrated Sales; Richard Skeen, who as VP Consumer drove double digit annual growth in that category; and John McMenamin, International Group head who had generated three straight years of double digit sales growth. Both Skeen and McMenamin interviewed for Rooney's position. The DJ Integrated Sales group has been disbanded and dispersed across regional divisions. Internationally, the European sales group now reports to the NY/New England manager and Asia reports to the U.S. West Coast office. Online sales head Brian Quinn, who is credited by agency execs for the strong positive Myers survey results, has transitioned from 50 online sales execs reporting to him to a single direct report under the integrated model. Results from next year's Myers survey will offer a case study in the effectiveness of sales organization restructuring and integration, although sales results, especially under News Corp scrutiny, will be a far more important measure.
Rooney, who is SVP Chief Revenue Officer, explained to Jack Myers Media Business Report that he has confidence in the reorganization since "we were finding when we went in [to advertisers and agencies] with print and online together, they consistently spent more by as much as 20 percent." Responding to the positive performance in the Myers study of the online sales group that had reported to Quinn, Rooney says "We still have the core of the online group and Brian plays a key role as an evangelist. He built the team and has the respect of the sales force and the new management. It works nicely. The reason it will continue to work is we still have the online account executives who now report into a multi-media sales and marketing department. For those who want to buy online they can; for those who want the big idea that is really unique and touches all platforms, the sales person can come back to a team structure. Where we had a handful of people doing integrated deals and we could only handle a few accounts at a time, now integration is part of the DNA of the total organization. Rooney also commented on News Corp's involvement: "We are starting to talk to News Corp. I'm very impressed by the way they recruit and train talent and promote from within. Being the new guy and having turned over quite a few people, I'm looking forward to that influence."
Myers Survey of Advertising Executives on Online Sales Organization Performance
• The top four sites in the Business category were very closely rated. WSJ.com was the 2nd highest rated site in this category with an Overall Myers Performance Power Score of 49.5 (out of a possible 100). CNET led the category with an Overall Performance Power Score of 50.1. Marketwatch.com (sold by the same team as WSJ.com) ranked third with an Overall Performance Power Score of 49.0, and Yahoo! Finance was the 4th ranked site with an Overall Performance Power Score of 48.0. The highest rated sales organization among all 125 sales organizations included in the study was Google (64.0). Among those who met with each organization's respective sales reps, WSJ.com was the top rated site in the category (55.1). Marketwatch.com was ranked 3rd among those who met with a rep with an Overall Performance Power Score of 52.4.
• WSJ.com is the most used site in the category as an advertising vehicle. 47% of advertisers use WSJ.com for advertising (flat year over year). Usage of Marketwatch.com declined from 32% in 2006 to 27% in 2007 (ranked 8th in the category). Usage was higher among those who spend at least 75% of their time focused on online media (53% for WSJ.com and 31% for Marketwatch.com).
• WSJ.com sales reps met with 44% of total respondents (flat from 45% in 2006), 3rd in the business, technology and science category behind About.com and Forbes.com. 33% of advertisers met with a Marketwatch.com rep in 2007 (slightly down from 36% in 2006). 48% of online specialists met with a WSJ.com rep in the past twelve months, while 42% met with a Marketwatch.com rep.
• WSJ.com had large improvements in responsiveness of sales reps. They were the second ranked site in the category on this attribute, and first ranked on knowledge. WSJ.com ranked in the top five on all attributes measured.
• Marketwatch.com also had large improvements in responsiveness of sales reps, and edged out WSJ.com as the top site in the category on this attribute. They were also the top ranked site on delivering on promises.
Power Scores: In order to provide an overall score for each sales organization and to indicate where it ranks in the marketplace, a performance power score was derived based on a set of attributes that defines the quality of the relationship with the organization. The attributes include sales reps are responsive to my needs and interests, sales reps have knowledge of product, content & competition, organization delivers on promises, organization offers valuable non-traditional opportunities, overall value of the relationship to you. Power scores are weighted by the importance assigned to each of the five attributes and the performance rating of the online sales organization. For each sales organization, the top 2-box importance rating ("6" or "7" on a 7-point scale) was multiplied by the top 2-box performance rating ("6" or "7" on a 7-point scale). The products were summed and divided by the sum of the importance percentages to arrive at the Overall Performance Power Score. This yields a score that is expressed as a percentage, running from a theoretical 0% to 100%. The attributes therefore contribute to this score in proportion to their importance.
The 125 sites that were rated in this year’s survey were categorized into seven categories. Relative rankings within the appropriate category and across all websites are highlighted as appropriate. The categories include: