The Dallas/Ft. Worth Spanish-language newspaper market is very competitive. It's not just the new Spanish-language dailies Diario La Estrella (Knight Ridder) and Al Día (Belo Corp.). At least a dozen weekly newspapers, some of them large and well-established, are also competing for readers and advertisers.
“There are so many newspapers that each publisher will try to sell you a different angle, which is not always the case,” Douchka Lecot, media buyer at Cinco Media Communications, tells Portadatm. Lecot adds “that many of these publications do not have high enough budgets to do the research that would allow us [media buyers] to make sound decisions for our clients.” How do media buyers find the appropriate print vehicle in this jungle?
In a market where most newspapers are available for free and data is relatively scarce, it makes sense for print media buyers to look carefully at the quality of each publication's distribution in order to decide whether the print vehicle fits the needs of each particular advertiser.
Al Día and Diario La Estrella are mostly distributed though racks, although Al Día also has significant home-delivery. Daniela Munguía, advertising and marketing coordinator at Diario La Estrella, expects to “focus extensively on rack pick-up in the future. That's the model that our readers – and this market is overwhelmingly Mexican — prefer, and we've responded by extending our distribution area to outlying counties that have expressed interest.”
Home-delivery, although more expensive for publishers, is another strong distribution model in DFW. Diario La Estrella delivers approximately 8,500 copies to very high Hispanic density neighborhoods (more than 90%) in Tarrant County. Al Día delivers approximately 20,000 copies door to door.
The free home-delivery distribution model has been unsuccessful in the past. Al Día is Belo Corp.'s second major effort to provide Spanish-language content in print. La Fuente, a lifestyle magazine inserted in the Dallas Morning News, was published from 1995 until October 2001. Gilbert Bailon, publisher of Al Día, emphasizes the differences between Al Día and La Fuente. “La Fuente was a weekly TMC, direct mail product produced by the advertising department, without newsroom content. It was primarily a lifestyle format produced by a very small staff. Al Día is a daily, content-rich product that has the largest news staff of any Spanish-language newspaper in the Southwest U.S.”
While Al Día and Diario La Estrella are mostly distributed in racks, most of DFW's weeklies are distributed at supermarkets (“Fiesta, Costplus”), grocery stores and restaurants. The papers are placed alongside real estate guides and other free publications, in baskets at the store's entrance. It makes a difference to advertisers how discriminating a reader is – whether he or she consciously picks up a newspaper at that particular newspaper's rack or picks up a paper, displayed with other types of literature, on the way into the supermarket.
…in two different markets?>
How do the two Spanish-language dailies fair in the two largest counties – Tarrant (Fort Worth, 539,000 households) and Dallas County (791,500 households)? Al Día should profit from its sister paper, The Dallas Morning News, which has strong penetration in Dallas County (Sundays 50.9%). The strong presence of Forth Worth Star-Telegram in Tarrant County (49.5%) should help Diario La Estrella. However, when it comes to Spanish-language dailies, both Knight Ridder and Belo target the whole DFW area. Diario La Estrella's allocation of resources (reporters, distribution) roughly mirrors the distribution of the Hispanic population in Dallas and Fort Worth counties (roughly 2/3 [Dallas] to 1/3 [Ft. Worth] ratio). “We don't see a dichotomy between Tarrant and Dallas, the way there is in English print,” Diario La Estrella's Daniela Munguía notes. She adds that Diario La Estrella's advertising and customer service are metro numbers, meaning they can be freely accessed throughout the region. “We are a DFW paper, in the same way that the CBS and NBC stations here, whose main offices happen to be in Fort Worth, are understood correctly to be DFW television stations.” Douchka Lecot, who represents accounts such as Cricket Wireless and the Texas Council on Family Violence at Cinco Media Communications, tells Portadatm that local advertisers sometimes see it differently. She gives an example of a hospital based in Fort Worth that does not want to buy advertising space in a publication based in Dallas.
The untested-paid model
Belo Corp's Al Día, launched last fall, is the first attempt to build a large Spanish-language daily in DFW based on the paid model. Al Día is betting that advertisers will be more attracted to an audience that pays to get the paper. Al Día's Bailon notes that “recent 3rd party research confirmed our strong belief in the paid circulation model for this market. Charging for Al Día drives consumers to subscribe to Al Día instead of driving them to the competition.”
A three tiered system
Some media buyers interviewed by Portadatm explained the DFW Spanish-language newspaper market as a three tiered system (classified by the quality of content and distribution). On the first tier are the two dailies Al Día and Diario La Estrella.
The second tier is composed of weeklies with loyal readerships such as El Hispano News (broadsheet, circ. 23,200), El Sol de Texas (broadsheet, circ. 18,800), the oldest Spanish language newspaper in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area (founded in 1966), El Heraldo News (Broadsheet, circ. 23.600), Novedades News (Broadsheet, circ. 30,500, Spanish), and El Informador Hispano (Tabloid, circ. 25,500). Because of their weekly frequency, these papers have a more analytical and less news-driven editorial product.
Finally there are publications, with less editorial content, which serve mostly as advertising vehicles, like La Semana (Broadsheet, circ. 21,224) and El Extra (Broadsheet, circ. 27,500).
May 1, 2004
Specific content for editorial…
Spanish-language is only one aspect of the content offered by most DFW Hispanic publications. “We offer content as an informational bridge for Hispanics facing unique challenges in connecting to or advancing in the economic, political, and educational mainstream. We are not only language driven but content driven,” says Gilbert Bailon, publisher of Al Día. Rogelio Santillán, publisher of El Sol de Texas (broadsheet, circ. 18,800), says the he “tries to portray the immigrant community who lives and works in the DFW area – the challenges and opportunities they face. We also cover a lot of sports and entertainment.”
Some weeklies, like North Texas's El Lider USA, are bilingual, offering advertisers a different target audience than Spanish-language publications. El Lider USA (broadsheet, circ. 51,200, weekly, bilingual) is designed to “attract young bilingual readers who are fully acculturated and assimilated, but who wish to retain strong ties to their culture and heritage.”
Editorial content isn't the only thing that has to be adapted to the particular needs of DFW's Latinos. Advertisers' messages have to be modified as well. General market creative for FSI and ROP ads, particularly for the retail category, tend to be relatively wordy. But in the Hispanic market, ads with fewer words, and prices for goods and services prominently displayed, work best.