Why the Wall Street Journal is centering personal finance on its new Buy Side commerce site

The Wall Street Journal is finally entering the trading space after spending a year determining what this business will look like for Dow Jones.

Launched last month, WSJ’s Buy Side is a standalone site whose newsroom operates separately from the Journal, but has the same goal of helping people make financial decisions — a shared mission for other Dow Jones properties, including MarketWatch and Barron’s, according to the company. revenue director Josh Stinchcomb.

The timing of Buy Side’s launch — likely coming just before a recession — could be a unique challenge for most commerce publishers, as audiences begin to pinch their pennies and brands reconsider their affiliate marketing budgets. But Leslie Yazel, chief content officer for Buy Side, believes these circumstances could benefit her team’s editorial strategy, thanks to the focus on personal finance featured in each article.

In the latest episode of the Digiday Podcast, Stinchcomb and Yazel discuss how Buy Side balances consumer product recommendations with detailed budget breakdowns to help readers make buying decisions from a value perspective, as well as establish affiliate partnerships with financial institutions. .

Below are highlights of the conversation, which have been lightly edited and condensed for clarity.

The WSJ approach to business content

Yazel: We have consumer goods that we sell and we also have personal finance advice, which we can also monetize. But at the heart of it are financial decisions, whether you’re buying a coffee maker, deciding which credit card to choose, or switching to a high-yield savings account. We think WSJ.com has great authority there. [and] we want it to be useful to people.

But I also think we’re well positioned for the current economic situation, because one of the main things we do is look after people very closely, and we do the math for people. So when I say we organize tightly, [I mean] When you scour the internet and look at all the best lists out there, you sometimes see “19 Best Credit Cards” or “12 Best Anything”. We’re really reducing that for people. When we talk about cash rewards cards, we’ve narrowed it down to four so people can really make a decision easier.

We create a criterion for this. We work with a panel of financial services industry experts and tirelessly use spreadsheets to fine-tune this, but we also do the math for people. And what I mean by that is if we look at, if you subscribe to one of these coffee subscriptions that are so popular now, we don’t just look at the tasting notes. We also take a look at how much does it actually cost per ounce, because then you can compare it with what you might buy at your favorite market or grocery store.

The financial benefit of entering into affiliate agreements with financial institutions

Stinchcomb: [Financial services partnerships tend to be] more varied in terms of [pricing] models. And I read your article on [cost-per-click] versus cost per acquisition – the different currencies in this space that are changing – and on the financial services side, it’s a combination of cost per acquisition and cost per lead. There are different models. On some product types it can be a percentage of the size of a loan and other models it’s a flat rate of – just for guidance – $50 for each new verified credit card lead .

On average, I think those premiums end up being higher per capita than on most consumer products, to the point that the lifetime value of that customer to a credit card issuer, for example, is higher. Thus, you will often have a fixed range or fee on a cost per lead, or a cost per acquisition of new customers. And those can change over time, because as you grow and offer more volume and more success to a particular issuer, for example, you might be able to negotiate better per capita rates.

Higher rates but higher barriers to entry

Stinchcomb: The financial services space is more complicated. The [are] compliance issues that do not exist in other categories. You have to sort of prove yourself to many credit card issuers, for example, before you can become an accredited affiliate partner for them. And so it’s a process, you have to earn and prove your way and show that you have the right compliance and put the proper resources behind the compliance. And that’s a barrier to entry.

There are big competitors, but there are also competitors who are partners. Red Ventures is the operator of some pretty big sites in the space, like Bankrate, but they also have a very sophisticated and publisher-friendly affiliate offering. We work closely with Red Ventures and are able to work with them to be a go-between for many financial institutions as they have a very deep understanding of compliance and complexity, and they can help expedite our participation in this market. [It’s] somewhat similar to SkimLinks in the consumer space.

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