The strategy hinges on offering advertisers a national Hispanic readership. "Our vision is to create a national group of Latino newspapers," Jose Ignacio Lozano, former publisher of La Opinión, explained in the announcement of ImpreMedia's formation. His sister Monica Lozano, former COO of La Opinión, added: "We are going to be able to offer advertisers national reach utilizing new platforms and dynamic promotional programs."
"Look at it like a broadcast network – a national strategy behind the network brand, but strong local management teams, local news, and local ad sales," says Digby Solomon Diez, interim publisher of Hoy. "It allows for a quality product that is more cost-effective to build."
The same strategy works regionally for Rumbo. "That's the reason we've rolled out so fast, so we can offer advertisers the package," says Publisher Edward Schumacher Matos, who estimates the combined circulation of his four papers at 100,000.
"We can offer national advertisers something they can't do today in the general market, namely, make one ad buy, through one rep, to cover the top three markets," says Hoy's Mr. Diez. "Their ad will appear in a similar editorial environment, with the same page size, in all markets. That gives us a unique sales proposition."
But Mr. Signoret foresees a shake-out that will leave one dominant national Spanish-language newspaper chain. "You'll have what happened in television – one big Univision and a distant second," he says. "Because at the end of the day, someone has to leverage that [national circulation] to capture advertising dollars."
"We might be reaching saturation," says Naveen Donthu, a professor of marketing at Georgia State University with a long interest in the Hispanic consumer market. "When you start seeing publishers taking market share from each other, that can't go on very long."
In addition to the would-be national or regional chains, Mr. Signoret identifies a second category of publisher, those interested in defending or expanding their geographic footprint. The Miami Herald's Spanish-language El Nuevo Herald provides a model that papers such as the Dallas Morning News and Washington Post hope to copy. Mr. Signoret points out that even suburban papers have adopted this strategy. For example, the Daily Herald of Arlington Heights, a suburb of Chicago, recently re-launched its weekly Reflejos toreach Hispanics who have moved into its market area.
Mr. Signoret's final category of Hispanic market publishers are local entrepreneurs who spot an opportunity and begin publishing without a larger strategic vision.
But for long-term investors in the market, language retention looms as the big question. A 2004 study by the Pew Hispanic Center found "the share of Latino newspaper readers that gets news only from publications in English is three times larger (62 percent) than the share reading Spanish-language newspapers (21 percent)." On a variety of subjects, Hispanics prefered English to Spanish news by at least a 2-to-1 margin.
"A lot of Hispanic ad agencies made their money selling the Spanish market to Corporate America," says Fernando Diaz, editor-in-chief of the new English-langauge magazine bello. "The future is the bilingual acculturated market. ... The [bilingual] market has existed for decades, and it's only going to grow." At Rumbo, Mr. Schumacher believes Spanish-language print still has a strong upside. "You will always have immigration feeding this market.
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