WSJ Online and Google Juice

WSJ Online and Google Juice: Dow Jones Electronic Publishing president Gordon Crovitz spoke this morning at the conference I’m attending. He said little new or surprising regarding the subscription model of the Online Journal. (He said something like, “We don’t believe something should be free online if we make people pay for it in print.”)

However, in the Q & A portion of his talk, he did reveal a couple of tidbits of note. First, when asked about the WSJ.com’s fire-walled content’s negative effect on Google search indexing, Crovitz admitted that creating Google Juice (although he didn’t actually use the term “Google Juice”) was the basis for creating the WSJ’s “Today’s Free Feature“:

The following is his quote from my notes, his answer to a question about the impact of having WSJ.com articles behind a pay firewall:

“I think (search engines based on “popularity rankings”) create a special challenge for those of us with what we consider to be high quality brands and content, especially with brands and content behind a firewall…the number of page views and number of links is not going to be as great. So in our own world, (when) you do a Google search, MarketWatch (also owned by Dow Jones) content is much liklier to come up as a search result than the Wall Street Journal content.

“Now we address this in a couple of ways. We have a full-time editor at the Online Journal whose job it is every day to select stories to throw over our firewall to make available to bloggers and to other websites for free. And we do that in order to distribute our content, keep our brands active and dynamic, and to give bloggers and search engines access to some journal content. We’re obviously very careful about doing this, we don’t want to undermine our subscription model. When you publish a million fresh pages every day, you can afford to make a dozen or so articles free on the Internet.”

Second item of note:

Crovitz said that last week’s “Open House” of the Online Journal generated a 50% increase in the website’s page views and traffic. Crovitz said this “proved the value” of having a subscription model because, he suggests, when you allow access for free something that usually is not free, people value it more. (However, as I heard him say that, I couldn’t help but think it proves the opposite about the subscriptioni model, but I guess I missed something.)

He said that last year’s Open House generated ten-digit additional subscribers (I assume that means more than 10,000). He also said they convert to paid subscribers 93% of people who sign up for a “trial subscription” to the online journal.