Amid a gloomy day for the economy, financial sites band together

As Wall Street wades through what former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan on Sunday called the worst events he's seen in his career by far, new sites dedicated to financial and business communications have launched.

It appears that online media is a chief beneficiary of the current financial crisis. As the market struggles, online services pertaining to finance are booming.

The Washington Post's online publishing group Slate today launched The Big Money financial news site, with its front page naturally featuring headlines such as "Bye Bye Lehman" and "Wall Street's Bloody Sunday."

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Financial marketing group Farvest launched its own site this morning as well, called Vesteo. But rather than a news site, Vesteo is a social network exclusively for "professionals working in careers linked to the disciplines of investment and financial products and services distribution." It specifically mentions the banking, life insurance, wealth management and investment fund industries as the target audience.

Also today, the professional sector's choice social network LinkedIn announced its new advertising platform, the LinkedIn Audience Network. Though the site's announcement today did not include the names of partnering companies, this platform will share its ads and related user targeting data with third party partners.

Late in 2007, GigaOM blogger Anne Zelenka propounded that LinkedIn would be able to weather an unstable economy precisely because it did not rely on advertising, but rather upon the premiums and subscription charges it obtains from users. Indeed, the most recent data from analytics firm Hitwise shows 30.78% of LinkedIn users to have a household income greater than 100K per year. Creation of a richer advertising network could serve to make the site even stronger. With the current weakness in the financial services job market, LinkedIn's job search and listing service increases its value.

Tomorrow, The Wall Street Journal will be re-launching its WSJ.com in similar social fashion. The site will reportedly undergo layout changes, and be integrated more closely with Marketwatch, Barron's, and AllThingsDigital, which will all share headlines in the WSJ Digital Network.

WSJ.com has continued to grow in unique visitors, but has seen a reduction in page views. Through the spring, Silicon Alley Insider reported, WSJ's page views per visitor steadily declined. In March, readers viewed 11 pages on average; in August, that number had dropped to 8.95. Many believe this is because users are not logging directly into the WSJ.com portal, but rather are being linked directly to individual stories through Google and Yahoo News searches.

This has been cited as a major reason for the site's redesign. By simplifying the main page and running fewer -- but larger -- ads that do not infringe upon text, WSJ hopes to encourage users to browse the site more.

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