With a GDP of almost $2 trillion, California is an economy bigger than Russia, Brazil, Canada, India or Spain. In addition, it is the largest “Hispanic state” when counted by both population and economic power. Is California going to be the first state to rebound out of the economic downturn? According to Monica Lozano, Senior VP of Impremedia and CEO and publisher of La Opinión, it has already done so. “Southern California started to feel the downturn in the third quarter of 2008, particularly in the housing market and in automotive.

We saw the downturn before other markets in the U.S. but we have also seen a recovery before. General Motors is back in the market, Ford has been strong. There is lot of activity around consumer packaged goods, sports and entertainment as well as the financial sector and banks.” Lozano adds that “when you look at the national economy you are seeing a bottoming out in Southern California.”

Make no mistake about it:

At least during the first half of 2009, year on year sales figures for almost all Californian media properties were negative: “I think you will be hard pressed to find a newspaper that has not been negatively affected on the national advertising front and La Prensa is no exception. The financial and automotive advertising sectors have deteriorated significantly; however, our majors category is experiencing an extraordinary year with a 20% gain year over year and our local advertising is having a very strong year as well,” says Frank Escobedo, general manager of Hispanic publications and publisher of La Prensa in Riverside, CA, a weekly Spanish-language newspaper owned by Belo Corp.

Julio Saenz, publisher of Excelsior (weekly, Spanish, owned by Freedom Corp.) in Orange County says that local advertising has been quicker to recover and has shown steady improvement every month since March 09.

California is a combination of many different regions:

> San Diego: Mexican Connection:

With an average annual household income of almost $60,000. San Diego is considered one of the most affluent of all the major Hispanic markets in the U.S.A.  And it is definitely growing:  Hispanics only comprise one third of the population but account for half of the births. While the San Diego DMA is only the 11th largest in the country by purchasing power, combined with the Mexican border town Tijuana it would rank as the third largest DMA after Los  Angeles and New York, The strong connection Hispanic San Diegoans have with Mexico is reflected in the content of many of San Diego’s media properties targeting Hispanics. There is a newswire agency exclusively focused on border issues. Agencia Fronteriza (AFN), a Mexican border newswire agency expanded its services to attract more Spanish language media outlets in the United States.

Agencia Fronteriza produces approximately 15 news ítems a day about border-related issues in Southern California. Last year, Los Angeles newspaper El Clasificado announced that it launched new editions in San Diego and Ventura Counties, owing to the fastgrowing Latino populations in those areas. The expansion brought El Clasificado's zone count to 24, and its circulation to 360,000.

> Los Angeles: The Largest:

As La Opinion’s (Impremedia) Monica Lozano notes: Los Angeles is the largest Hispanic market in the country by population and purchasing power and has a significant level of interest by both national and retail advertisers.

Los Angeles has a staggeringly big Latino population—approximately 8.5 million, most of whom are Spanish dominant. However, there is a sizeable and growing population of more acculturated Latinos in the area. Maria Kordes, Media Buyer in Muse Cordero Chen, who among other accounts buys media for California State Lottery tells Portada that she is pleased with the advertising vehicles available in the Los Angeles market. However, she would like to see more advertisers targeting niche markets.

> Orange County: Wealthy Hispanics:

“The OC Latino market is unique in that it's so affluent and large (a million+) but it’s often overlooked. National advertisers think they are reaching it with Los Angeles media but those newspapers and broadcasts have almost no Orange County coverage”, says Julio Saenz, publisher of Orange County’s Excelsior. Orange County’s capital is Santa Ana, and as of July 2008 the county had an estimated population of the 3,010,759, making it the second most populous county in California, behind Los Angeles County and ahead of San Diego County.

> San Francisco:  less than 20% are Latin:

San Francisco is the 9th largest Hispanic DMA in the country, with almost 1.5 million Hispanics comprising 18.5% of the population. Over 60% of these Hispanics are Mexican, 2% Puerto Rican, and the rest are from other Latin countries.

San Francisco-based bilingual paper El Mensajero (110,000, weekly, Spanish) was acquired by Impremedia in late 2005 to complement its Southern California property La Opinión. At the time, Monica Lozano, Senior Vice President of ImpreMedia and Publisher and CEO of La Opinión noted that “the ability for newspaper advertisers to directly reach Hispanics in both Northern and Southern California through one Spanish-language buy is really important.”

>Riverside – Inland: Easily overlooked:

Easily overlooked, the Inland Empire is mainly located in Southeast California, particularly the Riverside and San Bernardino counties. “It seems that in the last 18 months our region has finally gotten on the radar of some advertisers that previously were not looking at our area. The very favorable demographics of Hispanics, almost 50% of the market, in our region vs. other markets; i.e., disposable income, total income, education levels, level of acculturation have all played a major role in recognizing our region as one of the most favorable Hispanic markets in the country. Advertisers such as Home Depot, Lowe's, Best Buy, Walmart, Target, Sport's Authority, Ashley Furniture and more have all either entered or increased their distribution in La Prensa with very favorable results”, says Frank Escobedo, general manager of Hispanic publications and publisher of La Prensa in Riverside. Escobedo adds that the Inland Empire has lower housing costs than Orange County and San Diego, which, according to him, makes that Hispanics have a higher disposable income in Inland Empire than in the aforementioned counties.

> Sacramento-Stockton-Modesto:

The Sacramento-Stockton- Modesto DMA is the 11th largest Hispanic DMA in the U.S. and is home to almost a million Latinos, who make up one-fifth of the total population.

The area’s Latino community is young, with 27% under 18 years of age. McClatchy’s Vida en El Valle publishes three of its five zoned editions there, distributing almost 95,000 copies each week among the three papers. The Sacramento edition is the largest, with 45,000 weekly copies, then Modesto, with 30,000, and finally Stockton, with 20,000. The paper has a diverse offering for advertisers: “Fresno specifically has had some success with special themed pages and specific category programs. Twice a month we publish a Health, Beauty & Fitness page geared for health professionals, gyms, beauty salons, etc.,” says sales manager Bill Gutierrez. “We also publish a Sociales page; readers can send in their wedding, anniversary, event and party photos. We print them free of charge, and we charge advertisers to be on the page. The advantage for advertisers is that their message appears on a highly visible page. Readers love to see photos of themselves and their neighbors.”

Content: where it all starts:

Content is strongest when it reflects the local community. Local content is the “bread and butter” of most media properties in California.

La Opinion’s Lozano notes that we are “connected to local audiences to understand what is important to them. Our goal is to go even more local. We have a strong local reporting staff and a network of organizations that provide local content and local information. In addition we are expanding our user generated content through Twitter, Facebook and others.

To Julio Saenz, publisher of Excelsior, local content is essential. “We are the only place for the Orange County’s 1 million Latinos, to get info on were they live. You have to sit through a weeks worth of Los Angeles TV newscasts to get 2 minutes of Orange County news and the Los Angeles papers don't do much better.”

La Prensa Riverside’s Frank Escobedo agrees on the need for high quality deep content: “La Prensa has distinguished itself with exceptional local coverage with a very strong sports section and a real emphasis in local soccer league sports as well as the sport of boxing which has a very strong following in our area. On the web we have followed our strong suit which is sports coverage. While, we have the traditional offerings of all newspapers on the web; in 2008 we introduced Resumen Deportivo de La Prensa. Resumen is a video sports segment highlighting the sports events of the week.”

Portada Staff

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