With the emigration of Latin Americans to the US and Spain, new and exciting possibilities are opening up for publishers. They can maintain and even strengthen their ties with their audiences abroad, while at the same time building a more diverse audience for their advertising partners.
The Argentinean daily Clarín is an interesting example. Spain recently received a massive influx of Argentineans. These immigrants currently number approximately 250,000. Argentineans living in Spain are a culturally sophisticated audience with relatively high purchasing power, who want to maintain their ties with their home country through Internet editions of Argentinean newspapers. With this in mind, Clarín partnered with Argentinean ISP Ubbi Internet and launched “Clarín España,” a free web edition of the newspaper (www.clarin.com/es), last summer.
The deal goes as follows. Ubbi provides free Internet access to Argentineans in Spain. The first page to appear when subscribers log onto the Internet is the Clarín España web edition. This edition includes Clarín's entire print version, including display and classified advertising. The sports newspaper Ole, a TV channel and three radio channels are also part of the content package. While Ubbi does not charge for Internet access in Spain, it does charge in other countries. Clarín's executives want the Clarín España website to be a “connecting point for all Argentineans living in Spain.” Their business strategy is a clear advertising play.
Once it has built a critical mass of Clarín-España users, Clarín will try to monetize these “eyeballs” by attracting advertisers interested in reaching this demographic.
While Clarín's strategy is free to the consumer, other newspapers in the Spanish-speaking world are starting to charge users to access their websites. Last month, Chile's La Tercera (with a daily circulation of close to 100,000) launched its new electronic edition in PDF format, with a campaign that ties it to the Chilean paper's print subscription. The basic offer provides a month of access to the online newspaper, plus Saturday and Sunday print editions, for about US $7. Mexico's Grupo Reforma newspapers (Reforma, Mural, El Norte) started to charge for online editions in September by offering free online access to print version subscribers.
Still, several Spanish newspapers have started to charge for access to their online editions. Interestingly, close to 50% of their online and PDF subscribers live outside of Spain, mostly in the US and Latin America. El País, Spain's most read general news daily (circ. 435,000) began charging for online subscriptions earlier this year. Insiders claim that the website currently has 30,000 subscribers. One of the most innovative website editions is www.abc.es. It was launched in Fall 2002 by ABC, a Madrid daily (circ. 263,000).
“Sixty-percent of the PDF downloads are done in Spain. Of the remaining 40%, the majority is done out of the U.S. and Central Europe, mostly out of Germany and Switzerland,” Margarita Seco, director of ABC's online edition (www.abc.es) tells Portadatm. “Each morning at 6 am, ABC makes the front page of the newspaper available to its readers in PDF format,” Seco explains. “If they want to read the whole paper in PDF format, they have to pay 0.9 euros (approximately US $1).”
Menu a la carte
One of the most innovative features of the website is an application which allows the visitor to download one section of the newspaper for 0.45 euros (approximately US $0.50). “We have noticed that many women and young people are more interested in certain sections and supplements, than in the newspaper as a whole,” Seco points out. “Individual sections can only be acquired in PDF format. To read the conventional printed version you have to buy the whole newspaper.”
Does ABC charge advertisers more to appear in the papers PDF version?
“No. The advertisers appearing in the PDF version are exactly the same as the ones appearing in the printed version.”
“For us the PDF format is an additional copy sold. It's an additional distribution channel which allows us to reach readers who are far away, who don't have immediate access to the printed version,” Seco concludes.
According La Vanguardia-Digital's director Txema Alegre, the PDF version of the newspaper is, like other Spanish newspapers, a reproduction of the printed version. “However, our online subscribers can also get articles from our archive which dates back to the papers founding in 1881,” Alegre tells Portadatm.
To set up this archive, all the editions since 1881 had to be scanned. According to Alegre, the quality of the first issues is not great; some of the microfilms were slightly damaged. However, they are still readable.
The online subscription version of the Catalan newspaper (based in Barcelona, circ. 202,000) was launched last February. Apart from the different subscription types La Vanguardia-Digital introduced the feature of the 3 euro micro-payment. With this micro-payment, users can buy access to the archive or to six consecutive PDF copies of the newspaper.
“We have an average of 85 downloads a day through these micro-payments,” Alegre notes. “Our typical user is a Catalan who lives outside of Spain, or a student or professor who studies or teaches at a foreign university.”
The newspaper's PDF advertisers are identical to the ones appearing in the papers printed version. For now, La Vanguardia is not charging the advertisers extra to appear in its PDF edition.
Spanish paper El Mundo (Madrid, circ. 300,000) also publishes a PDF version. Like La Vanguardia, El Mundo also gives PDF subscribers access to El Mundo's archive which includes all the articles published since October 1st 2002.
A premium package gives subscribers access to all El Mundo's articles since the papers launch in 1994. Premium subscribers get the PDF as well as El Mundo's html version.
Single article buys
El Mundo also offers “debit cards” for 6, 8 and 9 euros, which allow readers to purchase 50, 75 or 100 articles, respectively.
“The PDF download system is used, but not in a massive way,” Gumersindo Lafuente, director of the online edition of El Mundo, tells Portadatm. “Our real business is in the website. We have a loyal audience. That's why access to our website continues to be free.”
In mid-September, El Mundo launched an e-mail service free to subscribers. Three bulletins are sent out – one about the latest news, one about sports and a third on technology news. Lafuente explains that the service is an attempt to increase the loyalty of readers who do not use the website on a daily basis. With this technique, the user does not have to enter the website; the information will be delivered straight to his inbox. “If the reader wants to know more about a particular news item, then he or she will have to use the website,” Lafuente concludes.