Hoy LA’s challenge: Convince readers and advertisers with local content

With the launch of Hoy-Los Angeles on March 1st, Tribune Corp. enters the largest and, according to some, the most challenging market for Spanish-language publications. Published Monday through Friday and available for 25 cents a copy, Hoy will provide daily news and features written in Spanish to the nearly 8 million Hispanics in the Los Angeles area.

Hoy>LA might be attractive to national advertisers, particularly if these advertisers take into account the reach of Hoy's sister editions in New York and Chicago. However, the majority of newspaper revenues still come from local advertising, which promises to be a much harder sell in the L.A. market. Mike Cano, general manager of the Spanish-language daily Al Dia (Dallas-Ft. Worth), warns that the complexity of the Los Angeles newspaper market, which is much bigger than New York and Chicago, should not be underestimated. “The metropolitan region is comprised of at least five or six areas. Readers in each of these areas do not relate much to information about the other areas. It is a very diverse market in terms of content and advertising.” Cano should know. He has had major roles in several Los Angeles Spanish-language newspaper ventures, beginning with Nuestro Tiempo from 1989 to 1993, then El Economico (now Impacto USA) which he transformed from a shopper to a weekly paper. In 1997 he went on to run the Excelsior until 2003.

Despite the fact that the vast majority of Los Angeles Hispanics are of Mexican descent, the market's composition is very heterogeneous. “East Los Angeles has a very acculturated Hispanic population with English-language preference,” explains Cano.

“To be an effective product you need content that is locally relevant in different zones,” Cano notes. Hoy will publish four zoned editions providing local news and advertising specific to Hispanic consumers in Los Angeles, Orange County/Long Beach, San Gabriel/Inland Empire and San Fernando. The accurate zoning of different editions with different content and advertising will be crucial to Hoy-Los Angeles success. The cable industry's approach to the Los Angeles market provides an interesting example. Adelphia Media Services handles the Los Angeles market's unwieldy size by breaking the region into 30 zones, handled by 10 offices. “We can slice and dice the market to fit most local retailers' trading areas,” Roger Stallard, multiple system operator for regional sales, recently told Television Week>

Competitors' strongholds

Hoy-Los Angeles will face significant competition in several areas. La Opinion covers most of Los Angeles County, from Santa Monica to East Los Angeles. It enjoys particularly strong advertising relationships in South-East Los Angeles. However La Opinion's penetration in the Long Beach area, stronghold of the free weekly Impacto USA (Media News Group), is relatively low. Belo Corp's free weekly La Prensa reigns in Riverside County, and Excelsior (Freedom Communications) is the main Spanish-language publication in Orange County (see “US $280 million advertising dollars up for grabs...,” page 8, Portadatm No. 6, November-December 2003). La Opinion has had mixed results in its attempts to expand into different areas of greater Los Angeles. In 1990 it launched an Orange County edition which closed soon after in 1992. Later, it tried again only to close down due to insufficient local advertising. La Opinion, in which New York's CPK Media (el diario/La Prensa) recently bought a 50% stake, has also made attempts to increase its penetration in the San Fernando Valley.

Two types of buys

Most print media buyers interviewed by Portadatm, are excited about the launch of Hoy-Los Angeles. Large circulation Spanish language newspapers – currently La Opinion and Mundo LA (weekly, circ. 540,000), are their main vehicle for reaching business owners and more affluent Hispanics. One print media buyer who manages an account for a health insurance provider notes that his client targets lower income Hispanics. “That's why advertising relies heavily on free community Spanish-language newspapers.” He invests approximately 50% of his print budget in the larger newspapers and 50% in the smaller independently published community newspapers. Print media buyers who target less affluent Hispanics may not change the breakdown between community and metropolitan Spanish language newspapers in their budgets. Hoy's entrance into the LA market will have a greater impact on larger dailies like La Opinion and weeklies like Mundo LA, than on smaller community publications which have a strong identity in specific parts of Los Angeles.


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