San Diego’s Hispanic media cater to readers and businesses

With an average annual household income of $57,038, San Diego is considered one of the most affluent of all the major Hispanic markets in the U.S.A. And it is definitely growing: Hispanics only comprise one third of the population but account for half of the births.

Many Hispanics are buying million-dollar homes says Lucy Roberts, President of HMC Advertising, a Chula Vista-based Hispanic advertising agency. These are mostly doctors and business people from Mexico.

Roberts notes that national advertisers are increasingly recognizing the value of the San Diego Hispanic market with retailers Albertsons and Ralph’s and major wireless communications companies stepping into the market. Advertising in Spanishlanguage or bilingual media seems the way to go; according to a study published by Peter Roslow Research Group, 91.3% of all Hispanic households in San Diego County use Spanish-language media.

“Telecommunications is coming on strong along with the automotive industry. Another one to be aware of is the retail industry,” says Jose Santiago Healy, Publisher of Diario San Diego (Healy Media, daily, circ. 8,000, predominantly paid publication, Spanish).

“The national advertising categories that we have seen growing the most are mixed among autos, telecommunications and banks,” notes Fanny Miller, Publisher of El Latino (independently owned, circ. 90,000, weekly, available for free, bilingual).

HMC Advertising’s Roberts notes that the increased amount of dollars spent in Hispanic media is reflected in the higher prices that San Diego’s Hispanic media vehicles are charging advertisers as compared to 10-15 years ago. El Latino’s Fanny Miller says, “The San Diego Hispanic media and print media market have changed considerably over the last 20 years. Early on there was one local free publication and one out of town daily for sale within San Diego County. To date there are at least a dozen products that include daily and weekly newspapers, shoppers and specialty magazines. The next wave is perceived as a further refinement of the market as advertisers and readers seek more targeted audiences and information.”

Business from both sides of the border

What is interesting about the San Diego media market is that it gets business from both sides of the border, particularly from Tijuana. The Mexican border city is the largest city in Baja California, and its residents spend over US $3 billion annually in San Diego County. They account for 8% of all retail sales, according to the San Diego Ad club. “Our clients’ primary market is Mexicans coming into San Diego,” says Lucy Roberts of HMC
Advertising. El Latino’s Fanny Miller points out that Mexican consumers travel into the U.S. for major purchases.

While the San Diego DMA is only the 11th largest in the country by purchasing power, combined with the Mexican border town Tijuana it would rank as the third largest DMA after Los Angeles and New York, says Carlos Valdivia, former national ad sales representative at the San Diego weekly Enlace (Copley Press, circ. 85,000, free, bilingual), who now works as Director of Business Development at Papel Media.

The cross-border economic integration is reflected in many advertising campaigns. For instance, HMC Advertising buys media for South Entertainment (Disney on Ice, Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus) not just in San Diego, but also in Tijuana, as the shows attract many people from across the border.

“In San Diego we buy El Latino and Diario San Diego as well as radio and TV,” says HMC Advertising’s Roberts. Baja Duty Free, the Mexican retailer, also does a lot of print advertising in newspapers and magazines of Tijuana, Mexicali, Piedras Negras and Matamoros.


San Diego-based Hispanic newspapers also distribute in Mexico. El Latino is distributed at Oxxo stores in Tijuana, México. Twenty percent of Diario San Diego’s distribution goes to Tijuana and Baja California. (60% goes to Downtown and South San Diego, and 20% to North County). “We divide our distribution in direct sales, subscriptions, and promotion. Direct sales include racks (vending machines), stores, and street sales in some areas, especially in Tijuana.”

Copley Press’s San Diego Union Tribune makes use of its database to distribute its bilingual weekly Enlace, which serves San Diego and Tijuana. (See “Need More Readers? Get a Good Database,” page 24, Portada® No. 11 September/October 2004).

Balanced distribution

El Latino’s distribution strategy seeks a balance of 50% home-delivery and 50% bulk drop. As such, 45,000 units are home-delivered each week to select areas where Hispanic population density is between 60%-80%. A “do not deliver” register is maintained as a courtesy to those homes that do not wish to receive the newspaper. The other 45,000 bulk drop delivered newspapers are delivered by in-house distribution personnel throughout the San Diego County at more than 1,200 retail outlets and nearly 1,000 outdoor boxes.

Through a separate third-party service, major supermarkets and other retail outlets such as Albertsons, Vons, Food Basket, Ralphs, Blockbuster and 24 Hour Fitness also receive copies. “El Latino has developed an extensive mailing list of nearly 126,000 Hispanic households within San Diego County that will see a targeted program initiated in early Spring, 2006,” says publisher Fanny Miller.


The strong connection Hispanic San Diegans have with Mexico is reflected in the content of many of San Diego’s Hispanic publications. In fact, there is a newswire agency exclusively focused on “border issues.” Agencia Fronteriza (AFN), a Mexican border newswire agency recently expanded its services to attract more Spanish-language media outlets in the United States. Agencia Fronteriza, produces approximately 15 news ítems a day about border-related issues in Southern California, including feature articles and photographs. The content is provided in Spanish, although it plans to also provide content in English.

According to Jose Santiago Healy, Publisher of Diario San Diego, “per an in-house study conducted in November 2005 with Diario San Diego’s readers, it seems to me that the Hispanic/Latino market is primarily interested in reading about Mexico, which might shorten the physical and emotional distance to home. Second, they want to read about issues dealing with situations that directly affect their community at large. And, of course, sports and entertainment news is quite popular.”

Local News

“The content of El Latino is very focused on local news, as well as national and international news, as it impacts the region. This differs from most other publications in that other publications cover more international news, particularly regarding Mexico and other Latin American countries.” says Fanny Miller of El Latino.

While Lucy Roberts of HMC Advertising acknowledges that print media offerings have improved, she still thinks that San Diegans need a paid Hispanic newspaper like Los Angeles’ La Opinion“A paper that has a lot of editorial resources to produce high quality content. Both El Latino and Diario San Diego do have good stories, but they are more tabloid-oriented,” says Roberts.,