“It has been crazy. Monday we launch our third daily newspaper in four months,” Edward Schumacher Matos, head of Meximerica Media tells Portada®. Rumbo, which already has dailies in San Antonio and Houston, will launch its Rio Grande edition this Monday (October 18th) and Rumbo-Austin in mid-November. The flurry of daily newspaper launches is part of Rumbo's central strategy to offer advertisers a regional cluster of daily tabloids targeting first generation Hispanics (predominantly of Mexican origin) in San Antonio and Southern Texas. “By the end of November we will be in 3 of the top 10 Hispanic markets and in Austin, which is18th.
Schumacher notes that Rumbo has been well received by local business owners. “They see a daily Spanish-language paper as an alternative voice to the English-language dailies that monopolize the markets in many American cities.”
Rumbo, which was started from scratch with no support – or relationships with advertisers – from existing publications, comes at a time when many general market newspaper chains are launching editorial products targeting Hispanic communities. The Austin American-Statesman (Cox Enterprises, daily circ. 183,000, Sundays 234,000) recently started a weekly Spanish-language publication in Austin called ¡Ahora sí! (circ. 20,000). Cox hopes to cross-sell ads in ¡Ahora sí! to Austin American-Statesman advertisers interested in reaching Austin's 350,000 Latinos.
Rumbo's Schumacher says that Latino products launched by existing publications only help to open the doors of ad agencies.
Are advertising dollars coming in?
A quick look at Rumbo's Houston and San Antonio editions shows that advertising sales are a challenge. Current advertisers include Ticketmaster, Firestone, and Merck, as well as insurance companies, real estate brokers, car dealers and a relatively large classified section. “We don't expect to break even until the fourth year,” says Schumacher, implying that he is prepared for a long battle. After launching the four Texas dailies, Schumacher plans to wait a year before launching in other markets.
Home-delivery vs. rack distribution, paid vs. free
Matt Spohn, head of multicultural marketing at Sears, noted in a recent Newspaper Association of America meeting that the future of Hispanic newspaper distribution is free home-delivery. “No one really knows that for sure,” countered Schumacher Matos. He adds that his paper, which charges 25 cents per copy, is adopting a mixed strategy. Rumbo is mostly distributed through racks, but also uses home-delivery in an effort to acquire new subscribers. Rumbo is currently doing daily sampling campaigns to 15,000 households in Houston, 11,500 in San Antonio and plans to deliver 11,500 in the Lower Rio Grande Valley and 9,000 in Austin. Expansion into other U.S. markets will not require a lot of extra resources. Rumbo's local editions are built around local news, added to a core of common content through modular publishing. “We only need 20 to 25 people to launch another edition,” says Schumacher Matos. These additional employees would make up the local ad-sales force, distributors and news team.