iPad and blackberry smartphone devices
Credit: Image by Mark Hakansson

Almost one third of the Wall Street Journal's online readers access the content on a device that has a screen size of between four and seven inches, Raju Narisetti, head of WSJ Digital Network, told a conference today.

Narisetti told Digital Media Strategies, which is taking place in London today, that 32 per cent of WSJ traffic comes from mobile.

The split between those reading on a phone and a tablet is roughly 60:40, Narisetti said.

Putting mobile first is “profound challenge” for publishers, he said, saying that many large newsrooms are making mistakes in that they are not paying enough attention to how readers consume advertising on different devices. "We have to own that knowledge," Narisetti said.

He also shared some stats, explaining that the print circulation of the WSJ is 2.3 million, which he said has risen from 1.8 million five years ago, with 60 million unique users a month across the digital network and 130,000 paying iPad subscribers.

He said that growth is in part due to expanding into new markets, with the WSJ launching different language sites in key locations.

We need to think of newsrooms as being in a permanent beta stage where change is the only constantRaju Narisetti
But as print revenues decline, newsrooms inevitably shrink, Narisetti said. He was previously at the Washington Post which he said lost around 200 journalists but created around 100 new digital roles, bringing in expertise in SEO and social.

"We need to think of newsrooms as being in a permanent beta stage where change is the only constant.”

Asked whether the pace of digital is moving too fast for some readers as they grapple with keeping up with the changes, Narisetti said: “My biggest ongoing regret is that we are moving too slowly."

Lessons from The Daily, AllThingsD and personalisation

Narisetti was also asked for lessons learnt from the launch and closure of iPad title The Daily, created by News Corporation, which owns the WSJ.

Narisetti said the "tactical mistake was not to go beyond the iPad", suggesting that not having a website had a negative impact as it did not introduce readers to content.

But key lessons in the creation and consumption of interactives has “deeply permeated” other areas of News Corp, he said.

Narisetti also discussed the lessons learnt from owning technology site AllThingsD. Technology journalism as an area where a lot of start-ups have done well, Narisetti said, explaining that a key takeaway is that readers come to such niche sites for personality of both the brand and the journalists, even when there are no big news stories making the headlines.

Narisetti was also asked about personalisation. Although WSJ does offer personalised site layouts and products, such as markets data, and a minority of readers do take advantage of the options, it is not something he believes the majority of the audience is calling for.

He said that although a large number of people drive cars, but not many tinker with what is under the bonnet.

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