Cover of the Rolling Stone… By Column Inch? Hispanic Publishers Seek new Revenue Sources with Front-cover Advertising.

Occupying the front cover of a magazine has been a fantasy to many over the years, but until now, it has remained just that: a fantasy. However, increasingly, there is another way to do it: Pay for it.

As Hispanic publishers, as well as prominent general market publications like The Wall Street Journal, seek new ways to boost their bottom lines, they are invariably confronted with a critical question: whether or not to welcome front-cover advertising.

Although this type of advertising can garner much higher rates than traditional advertising (between 2 and 5 times as much), a widespread criticism is that it can dilute a publication’s own identity if not implemented sparingly.

Diario la Estrella’s Director of Advertising and Marketing Bill Vincent weighs the benefits and costs of frontcover advertising in this way: “With the way the newspaper business is changing, it has [monetary] benefits that weren’t considered necessary 10 years ago. The only drawback is the possible “selling” of your identity, since nothing establishes the identity of your newspaper more than the front-cover.”

Others recognize the diluting potential of an ad-ridden front cover, but see this as an avoidable  obstacle. Amy Hinojosa, marketing director of Al Día (TX), sees the small banner ad at the bottom of the page as relatively innocuous: “The strip ad at the bottom of the page and the height of one inch does not intrude significantly on the editorial, and it works well for advertisers.”

Seth J. Mason, publisher of Vida Latina concurs, saying that these front-cover banners are good sources of revenue “that don’t make the page look too gaudy.”

False Front Cover?

Hoy’s Director of Marketing Marco Lopez says that he embraces the developments in front-cover advertising, but points out that editorial content should always take precedence. “We run various front-cover advertising options such as wraps, banners, and little ‘buttons,’ but if there is a news item of overwhelming local or national significance, that will be our priority, and our advertisers know this.”

Earlier this year, HOY featured four-color wraps for both Heineken and McDonald's.

For California’s bilingual Vida en el Valle, the possibility of front-cover advertising is precluded by space restrictions. Vida’s Publisher Valerie Bender says, “Seeing as how we are a fully-bilingual publication, offering side-by-side English/Spanish versions, we are already somewhat limited as to how much space we have on the front page. I suppose if we wanted to, we could redesign the front-cover to accommodate a small banner at the bottom, but to be honest, no one has approached us about this.”

Impremedia’s La Opinión and La Raza both sell front-cover advertising in banner-form at the bottom of the page. Eric Linker, senior VP of national advertising at Impremedia, says, “There’s been a fair amount of debate over whether to accept front-cover advertising for our other publications, El Diario, La Prensa, and El Mensajero. It looks like they most likely will.”

Unlike the trend toward frontcover advertising that seems to be taking place with Hispanic  newspapers, Hispanic magazines have so far not embraced the idea. There are a number of reasons why this may be: Whereas many Hispanic papers are free, Hispanic magazines are paid for; whereas Hispanic newspapers are often daily/weekly, magazines are monthly.

While front-cover ads may not be storming Spanish-language magazines any time soon, it seems that their newspaper presence is bound to grow as the practice becomes more accepted by publishers.

Alex Andrews