Analysis: Is This the Decade of the Free Newspaper in Latin America? Part 3 (Premium Content)

Media Buyers Weigh In

In the previous installment of "Is This the Decade of the Free Newspaper in Latin America?" we examined the growth and increased circulation of free newspapers in the region. In the following article, Portada gets the point of view of media buyers in Argentina, Mexico, Chile and Peru.

Free dailies are a part of the general newspaper spectrum, and integrate sections of the population that would otherwise not have access to paid newspapers. They also serve to reach middle-class workers who receive these newspapers while commuting on public transport or visiting large shopping malls. The high pedestrian traffic in the cities helps boost the circulation of free newspapers, as well as their ad space sales. And their free distribution guarantees a high range of reach for advertisers targeting the middle and lower-classes.

Adrian Barreiros, Account Group Director for MEC Argentina, tells Portada that "free print newspapers are a phenomenon in itself, and give advertisers the chance to target lower-income segments of the population who are unable to pay a cover price, along with commuters going or returning from their jobs who are looking to catch up briefly on the news while traveling. Many of these newspapers also end up back at home, where they continue to multiply their readership. Moreover, the fact that paid newspapers sales are not falling in proportion to the rise in free paper circulation, proves that they are in fact complementary." (To read the full interview click here

Media buying agencies in Latin America have expressed varying opinions regarding what these encouraging figures mean for print media ( Some say that print newspapers are essential to the advertising market and that digital media act as a supplement to print editions, while others argue that print media is outdated and should keep up with the times.

Marisa Cavero, Managing Director of Universal McCann Peru, believes that print media has not been devalued, since "most print media have their own digital editions and the idea is not to cannibalize, but rather complement, their operations. A newspaper such as El Comercio may lose subscribers, but has added increasingly more online readers, meaning that its news disseminating capacity is not affected. Moreover, all media face the constant challenge of providing new formats, etc. On the other hand, investment in digital media is still minimal in Peru, and most of it is done by the yellow pages."

Adrian Barreiros says that "print media, but especially newspapers, are – together with TV – the two pillars of the Argentine market." In this context, he believes print media still lays claim to an important chunk of that country’s ad budget, and that digital media advertising helps to increase combined print-digital media buys. "Newspapers still count in Argentina, and their circulation is four times that of digital publications," he adds.

Meanwhile, other media agencies believe that print media buys are decreasing in proportion to increased investment in digital advertising, and as such print media should update its operations or work in tandem with digital media.

Carolina Adriasola, Business Manager for Grey Chile, tells Portada that "traditional media has remained stuck, without offering any new deals or structures to capture the attention of not only the viewer, but also the sender.  In digital media, the cost per contact is lower and can be measured immediately, allowing for the quick correction of messages or campaigns if these are not in tune with your desired target group." 

Ulises Vazquez Cruz, CEO of Ergos Online Advertising Group, Mexico, agrees with Adriasola regarding print media continuing to lose advertising ground.  Only 30% of his clients currently earmark budgets for print media buys, "while digital advertising keeps growing and gaining ground on all media, but especially newspapers and magazines," he says.

At any rate, while we can find regular patterns in the Latin American market, there are notable differences in other country markets, especially when it comes to how developed their digital advertising markets are.