The Next Level: Hispanic Newspaper Websites Establish Themselves Online

Most Hispanic newspaper publishers are cognizant that they have to expand their online offerings to attract readers and advertisers. Simply posting the same content that appears in the print edition is not sufficient to drive traffic to one’s website. The ability of the online platform to offer real-time updated content, as well as audio and video clips empowers the online publisher in ways previously unimaginable. However, it also places more responsibility on publishers to provide sophisticated new content delivery options that will entertain and attract new visitors, while satisfying advertiser demands.

Hernan Guaracao, publisher of Al Dia (50,000, weekly, Spanish) says that one area they are exploring for their web presence is podcasting. “Here in Philadelphia there is a quarterly meeting called Power Lunch Latino, where Latino business leaders come and give oral presentations about cutting edge business trends. So what we’ve been doing is recording these speeches and uploading them to our site and offering them as podcasts, as we recently did with Juan Gonzalez, former president of the NAHJ and current columnist for the Daily News. This is definitely an area we plan to develop further.”

Orlando Nieves, general manager for Centro Tampa (75,000, weekly, Spanish) says that adding daily online video briefs has had a profoundly positive effect on driving traffic to the site: “The addition of online videos to our site generated a 36% increase in traffic and a 26% increase in unique visitors. These videos provide the browser with a more engaging and interactive experience.  It also provides a quick and simple way to deliver breaking news to someone short on time,” says Nieves.

Aside from offering enhanced content delivery options, online newspaper publishing also has the effect of expanding the reach of regional publications to a global scale. As Francisco Framil, sales and marketing manager at Miami-based ad-sales network Publicitas notes, “Latin American publishers are capitalizing on their large following and loyal US Hispanic audience on their websites.  Currently, over 20% of their traffic is generated by U.S. users.  What we do is provide advertisers the opportunity to connect with the audience in these top visited Latin-American websites with relevant advertising messages as part of an exclusive representation agreement with the GDA (Grupo Diarios America) publishers”  [See U.S. Advertisers Place in Latin American Websites to Target U.S. Hispanics in Portada Sept/Oct Issue].

Once a newspaper has decided to make the jump into online publishing, it is confronted with a few options: It can hire developers to design a custom website and charge its print sales reps with soliciting online advertising, or it can join a large network or enlist a rep firm to take care of its online sales. Each approach has its advantages and drawbacks, depending on the paper’s market positioning and its goals.

Critical Mass…

Publicitas’ Francisco Framil says that publishers need to be wary of becoming part of large online networks:  “Networks many times position themselves as the big conglomerates and provide only eyeballs, sacrificing quality.  Publisher websites have the privilege of providing targeted audiences looking for information from a trusted source.” On the other hand, notes Framil, if you are part of a quality online network, your site’s audience can be combined with similar audiences to create a “critical mass” attractive to advertisers.  What rep groups and networks can do is combine various sites into one media buy, making the investment easier and more time/cost-efficient. “Ultimately, advertisers don’t buy media itself, but consumers – targeted eyeballs – that require an integrated approach to reach the ideal volume threshold levels. Usually one site alone is not able to deliver this sort of reach at a national level.”

HDN’s Bill Gato agrees that associating oneself with an ad network or rep firm can add some muscle to one’s sales efforts. “One big advantage of working with an ad network or online rep firm such as HDN is that we specialize in digital sales and can instantly sell out the publisher's online inventory, whereas the publisher might otherwise have allowed the inventory to go unsold. We assist publishers in attracting national online ad dollars that their site, as a stand-alone property, might not have attracted due to insufficient reach,” says Gato.

At the same time, just because one’s online inventory is selling out does not mean that one is getting the most value from their website, a fact that Gato readily admits. That’s why one must understand the difference between how rep firms and large ad networks operate. “An online rep firm such as HDN will focus on branding advertisers and will sell your inventory at a premium, whereas many performance-based ad networks will bulk your site with thousands of other sites and sell it at a minimum,” Gato explains.

While it is true that oftentimes networks sell online ad space at a minimum, this is done to fill ad-space that would otherwise go unsold. In that light, it is justifiable, as the network is creating revenue that otherwise would not be captured. At the same time, some publishers want to avoid being viewed as a cheap buy, lumped in with many other websites, and thus choose to handle their own sales, even if that means having some space go unsold.

Going it Alone…

One advantage of managing online ad sales in-house is that the publisher can offer combined print/online packages that boost revenues and offer savings to advertisers. “Clients can save up to 20% when buying a convergence package. We have found that selling online by itself is not very cost-effective. Presenting clients with a ‘one-stop solution’ that secures adequate exposure is key,” says Centro Tampa’s Orlando Nieves.  “Our site is measured daily and advertisers can receive daily updates showing how many impressions and/or click-thrus they got and even what server providers they came from.  This amount of accountability has never been seen in the print media and will surely drive the growth of Hispanic online initiatives.”

The catch is that a newspaper website must have rather broad distribution to be considered by most national advertisers. As Matias Perel of Florida-based ad agency Latin3 puts it, “A newspaper should have a significantly large audience to be considered as an advertising venue for our clients – Fortune 500 companies focusing in the US Hispanic Market – Approximately, 200,000 online readers or unique visitors.”

However, beyond the basic requirements, Perel notes some other website features that can influence the decision to buy ad space: “As concepts such as Web 2.0 and social media continue to capture the interest of the Hispanic community, and its use continues to grow among Hispanics, newsletters as well as individualized opt-in newsletters will also be key factors in our planning decision. We also take into account whether the newspaper promotes interaction with their readers through blogs and forums.” In essence, advertisers are now considering not only how many users interact with a given website, but the way in which those users interact with that website. The more interactive, it seems, the better. The rationale behind this approach is that as the interaction between user and website becomes more intimate, so too does the interaction between the user and the advertising s/he encounters on that website.

Recognizing the substantive considerations that advertisers are addressing in their online marketing plans, Al Dia’s publisher Hernan Guaracao says his paper is placing greater importance on the development of its website. “Up until now, we have just been experimenting with the Internet. We developed our current website ourselves, but are now consulting with outside entities about designing a new one, as we are realizing the complexity of this media. In our view, it should not be considered just a supplement to the print edition, but a whole separate platform from which to present our brand.”

Email Marketing and Segmentation…

Email marketing, through mechanisms like opt-in newsletters, is also growing in importance and popularity as newspaper websites strive to stay relevant to their audiences. Many publishers are offering their readers targeted newsletters that concentrate on subscriber-selected content. This serves the dual purpose of providing the user with content that s/he cares about while providing advertisers with more targeted audiences.

Publicitas’ Francisco Framil explains: “Smart publishers are collecting opt-in subscriber data and establishing an ongoing two-way communication with their readers. Advertisers can participate with their brands in this conversation, meant to engage and build relationships with consumers, and win their loyalty.”

Al Dia’s Guaracao says that the paper has begun sending out an English language summary of the week’s news to foster greater interactivity between the paper and its readers and to reach out to more English-dominant audiences.

Matias Perel reinforces the importance of developing this sort of infrastructure: “E-mail marketing is, without question, a highly segmented medium and for this reason it is an important component of the marketing mix. Opt-in databases are very valuable for advertisers since e-mails or e-newsletters sent to these audiences usually have high open rates and click through rates. Additionally, they usually convey more conversion than less-segmented mediums.” By virtue of the user’s expressed consent to receive certain types of marketing, the delivery of that marketing is laser-like in focus, whereas traditional banner ads have more of a shotgun, or dispersed, delivery, with some of the messaging reaching interested consumers, and the rest missing its mark.