Counting Ads in the WSJ

One of the big questions facing Rupert Murdoch when he takes over the Wall

Street Journal is going to be what he wants to do with the Saturday version

of the paper. This is my back-of-the-envelope count of ads in each of the non-fluffy

sections of the WSJ over the past 5 days. It’s not 100% accurate, but it’s close


To get these numbers, I just totted up the ads I could see in the news portions

of the WSJ – I excluded things like Personal Journal, Weekend Journal,

and Pursuits. I also excluded the house ad on the back page of the main section

of the Saturday WSJ.

The big numbers, like the Wednesday Marketplace section, were largely attributable

to job ads; in general, display advertising seems to be very weak indeed in

the WSJ. But the performance of the Saturday Journal is dreadful even by WSJ

standards. One front-page ad in the main section, and one tiny legal notice

buried in the bottom corner of page six of the Money & Investing section.

Is the Weekend Journal a failed experiment? Can the property ads in the fluffy

sections successfully subsidize the entire rest of the newspaper? And in general,

how can the WSJ make itself more attractive to display advertisers? It’ll be

interesting to see whether and how Murdoch addresses these questions.

  Main Marketplace M&I Total Ads per page
Tue 3.3 4.2 2.3 9.8 0.29
  12 10 12 34
Wed 5.2 6.5 2.4 14.1 0.37
  14 10 14 38
Thu 3.8 2.3 0.4 6.5 0.20
  14 8 10 32
Fri 2.7 1.1 1.5 5.3 0.18
  12 6 12 30
Sat 0.1 N/A 0.1 0.2 0.01
  10 N/A 14 24
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