With a Hispanic population of more than 7 million and growing (32% of the state's 22 million residents), it's no surprise that Texas has become a major battleground for newspaper publishers trying to win Hispanic readers and the corporations who want to advertise to them. In the last 18 months, the daily newspaper chain Rumbo (Meximerica Media) was launched in four cities. Additionally several dailies and weeklies were launched by major U.S. newspaper groups including Hearst, Knight Ridder, Belo, Freedom Communications, Gannett, and Cox Newspapers, among others.
Becky Solís, advertising director at Brownsville Herald/El Nuevo Heraldo, says that in some parts of Texas, their majority populations make Hispanics the general market. “Our market is 94% Hispanics”, says Solís. “So all of our advertising targets Hispanics”, Solís adds. “Our market does have a significant number of readers that prefer their news and information in Spanish. This is where we saw an opportunity for our daily Spanish paper El Nuevo Heraldo. “A few years ago, we were not able to buy ads in special supplements, for instance the homebuyer or real estate section of a Hispanic newspaper. Now advertisers can target their messages by sponsoring a particular section,” says Joe Genova, director of media services at Lopez Negrete Communications in Houston, whose agency buys print for companies including Bank of America, Tyson Foods, Wal-Mart, Visa USA and Azteca Melling. On the publishers side, George Gutierrez, VP of advertising for the Austin American Statesman and its Spanish-language weekly publication Ahora Sí!, explains that although advertisers are becoming more aware of the growing Hispanic population and looking for the most credible and effective medium to reach them, “most are not fully prepared to do business with Hispanics because they do not have bilingual personnel.”
One of the central ideas behind the launch of the Rumbo's network of four Spanish-language daily newspapers (San Antonio, Houston, Lower Rio Grande Valley and Austin) was to establish a regional footprint with enough reach among Spanish-dominant Hispanics to be a compelling media buy for advertisers. Several Texas newspaper publishers, including Rumbo and Al Día (Belo Corp), are also talking about forming a statewide network of newspapers that would provide national and regional advertisers wider reach. “One of our main goals is to build national business. Toward that end, we are looking at some strategic alliances with other Hispanic publications,” Sergio Salinas, general manager of the new bilingual weekly Conexión, recently told Dinah Eng of the Newspaper Association of America. Some regional magazines, like QueOnda Magazine, a bilingual publication with local editions in Houston (circ. 100,000, weekly), Dallas/Ft. Worth (2x/month, circ. 65,000) and San Antonio (2x/month, circ. 65,000), already offer advertisers a regional footprint. The 2004 edition of “El Premio de la Gente” music award contest was advertised in QueOnda Magazine's three markets.
English vs. Spanish-dominant Hispanics
The question of whether to target English or Spanish-dominant Hispanics is key for advertisers. While in Dallas/Ft. Worth, 70% of Hispanics are Spanish-dominant and 30% are English-dominant; the inverse ratio is true in San Antonio. “There are advertisers that pursue English-dominant Hispanics, such as Porsche-Audi, Dillard's and Foley's,” notes Myrna Cortez, director of sales and marketing at San Antonio's Conexión. “Verizon Wireless and Office Max tend to pursue Spanish-dominant Hispanics,” Cortez adds.
Mexican advertisers should be of particular interest to Texas publishers targeting first or second generation Hispanics. Edward Schumacher-Matos, CEO and editorial director of Rumbo, went to Mexico D.F. last November to promote Rumbo as an advertising vehicle for Mexican companies. A significant proportion of advertising in La Frontera and El Extra Newspapers (Freedom Communications) comes from Mexican advertisers. “We believe Mexican companies that intend to sell their products in this market should definitely advertise in Al Día. This would include brands like Bimbo, Tia Rosa, and Maseca, which are well-established in their countries of origin, but obviously are competing with many more brands for shelf space and mind-share in the U.S.”, says Amy Hinojosa, marketing manager at Al Día in Dallas.
Advertisers like TMC
Although the number of publications and their total circulations has increased, advertisers still complain that newspapers lack the wide reach that would make them compelling media buys. Some Texas Hispanic publications are trying to enhance their offers with direct mail tie-ins and Total Market Coverage (TMC) products. Freedom Communications' El Extra (1999) is a Spanish-language TMC distributed every Friday in the Lower Rio Grande Valley area.
Dallas/Ft. Worth's Al Día is developing a TMC product scheduled to launch in 2005. “Some advertisers (e.g. Sears) demand it,” says Mike Cano, general manager of Al Día. According to Cano, Al Día's TMC product will be delivered every Saturday to 120,000 homes (Dallas-Ft. Worth has approximately 320,000 Hispanic households).
Dallas-Ft. Worth: Competition reigns
Very few U.S. cities have two general market dailies. Dallas/Ft.Worth (DFW), home to an estimated 1.5 million Latinos, not only has two general market papers, but also two Spanish-language dailies – Belo's Al Día and Knight Ridder's Diario La Estrella. Both dailies, now in their second year of publication, are putting pressure on the dozens of Spanish-language weeklies published in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area (see “Advertisers and readers to profit from competition between DFW's Hispanic papers,” page 10, Portada® No. 9, May/June 2004). “The smaller Spanish-language weeklies are losing readership due to the heightened competition between Diario La Estrella and Al Día. With the exception of La Semana, all of DFW's weeklies have seen declines in readership between 2001 and 2004,” says Edward Rincón, president of Ed Rincón & Associates, which publishes the yearly DFW Latino Trendline Study. According to the 2004 DFW Trendline study in which 600 Latinos were asked what newspaper they were most likely to read a year from now, 26.5% answered the English-language Dallas Morning News, followed by Diario La Estrella (9.4%), Fort Worth Star Telegram (7.6%), Al Día (5,2%), El Extra (1.8%), El Sol de Texas (1.6%), El Hispano News (1.4%), and Novedades News (0.7%). Twenty-eight percent of those interviewed had no preference and 10.9% did not answer. When asked what newspaper they had read in the past 7 days, 21.9% answer