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April 21, 2008

“Build it and they will come” is not necessarily the kind of simple strategy that can work for Hispanic print publishers as we can see from the sampling of print-owned sites now offered online. The challenge we faced almost ten years ago when I was general manager at el diario/La Prensa of monetizing a newspaper website is really not that different today but the urgency to put something online remains the same. Moreso, if the continued rehashing of newspaper content online (with a sprinkling of video streaming thrown in) is any indication of what the industry has to offer, then Hispanic publishers are still very far from figuring out how to best use their presence on the web.

This was made clear with the recent introduction of Impremedia’s Impre.com. By combining all of their content under one online umbrella and giving it a name that really brings no immediate meaning to mind one has to wonder if the Hispanic print industry is truly that confused or if perhaps Impremedia just happens to know something we don’t. Is bigger in this case better? Only time will tell. But I doubt it.

I am not trying to knock Impremedia’s efforts, in fact kudos to them for at least investing in their products and making an effort to raise the bar. More publishers should be as ambitious and perhaps this new entry will have a ripple effect and force others to join the fray. But the question, still remains: How do we monetize a newspaper’s online presence? Or a magazine’s for that matter?

At issue are several factors, foremost being that if content has value, then why give it away? As newspaper circulation continues to suffer, how smart is it to post that same content (often as much as a day late) online? And why bother redirecting your readers to your site in the first place unless there is a direct benefit to do so? Language is also an issue. When it seems that most research points to a younger, English dominant Latino as the core, online user, how will these predominantly Spanish language newspaper sites create the kind of appeal that already seems to exist in Yahoo, AOL Latino and others such portals? Also noticeable is that many of these same younger, Latino online users often don’t read newspapers, much less in Spanish. The challenge — and cost involved — is daunting. Sure, we can talk millions of impressions, so called unique visitors and razzle dazzle, but what about duplication, cannibalization and all those other questions that so often arise?

In panels I have moderated, classes and seminars I’ve run and countless informal meetings with publishers, with Latino online users and with newspaper readers the discussion rarely offers a solution. At the AHAA conference in San Antonio this past week a print panel consisting of John Paton (CEO, Impremedia), Filiberto Fernandez (Publisher, Casa y Hogar) and Jaime Gamboa (President, Tu Ciudad) discussed the value of print in a manner that seemed more like a basic 101-type sales presentation than an informative session aimed at the advertsiing agency’s top players. That the audience consisted of more media sales reps than agency delegates, made the experience more bothersome to me. At this stage in the game, we really should be talking cutting edge online startegies, not basic justification for advertisers to use a traditional media such as print. When a student from the University of Arizona appeared to stump the panelists with low statistics on Spanish dominant online usage, the clarity of the online dilemna became much too strong to ignore. But in all fairness to the panel, does anyone have an answer?

At the end of day, Hispanic advertising revenue, which for print is already limited, is still the light at the end of the tunnel. Companies like Hispanic Digital Network (HDN), which sell based on packaged overall impressions have at least figured out how to build business. But as publishers continue to package online, use online as added value, or simply sell it on the unsubstantiated hope that somehow these sites have a brand value, the industry will continue to limp along. I would love to see an example of a Hispanic print company actually getting it right. If you know such a company (in any language) let us know.

The forum is open.

By Roger Gonzalez
President, Alliance Media & Communications
Hispanic Media Consulting and Multicultural Marketing

Comments

You make very valuable statements. We do need to work on cutting edge On-line strategies. The On-line challenge starts with a Web site. That is the smallest product that a company can offer. The big challenge that many Web sites have is delivering enough traffic to make it worthwhile to set up advertisement campaigns. The combination of low traffic and high CPM rates is not a good one to generate income for a newspaper. In some cases, newspapers have Web sites that do not get an emotional connection with their visitors. Newspapers should also get visitors/readers to interact with their products. This is the time to determine an On-line strategy to grab more advertising dollars and grow the number of repeated visitors. We cannot wait any longer. Nelson Merchan President www.CLICROI.com Hispanic Online Advertising With Value Panel Recruitment

I am usually of the opinion that Roger Gonzalez is a smart guy. I am re-assessing that thinking. His opinion of the Hispanic print industry's efforts online and impreMedia's in particular is not only flawed but seriously misguided and shows a thinker and thinking out of step with the reality of media today. ImpreMedia is a journalism company. It creates original news and information content by Hispanics for Hispanics in the communities it serves. It delivers that content to its audience in a number of different ways. First ,in print, not only for our own publications but also for McClatchy Co. and Hearst. Secondly, in online, for our own portal, impre.com, and our publciations' web sites and for other partners such as MySpace Latino and mail.com. Most recently we have been providing our content in the broadcast medium with our partnership with PBS/V-Me. All of those efforts have created a nationwide news and information audience whereby more than 40% of all U.S. Hispanic adults use an impreMedia product. Roger, like many who fail to understand that all content has been digital for at 15 years, is still concerned about online as a medium that must be served rather than one that is simply to be harnessed for what a company does best. Whether that company sells books or produces original news and information content. To paraphrase the tag line at the end of Roger's posting: "It's about the audience stupid. Not about the platform."

Great question Roger! I think the answer is as simple or as complex as you want to make it. The simple answer using the Pareto principle is sell 80 percent of your online inventory to time sensitive advertisers, national branding campaigns, and long term page sponsorships. I have carefully studied many online publishers’ Spanish portals and have yet to find one that would keep me coming back. The content is insipid, stale, and poorly written. In order to make money in the online world, you have to become what industry forecasters are predicting. The preferred portal of community information readers go to. Try that one on for size. That means you have to have an army of reporters to cover breaking news or buy news feed. You need talented photographers to fill your pages with images of, drum roll …….people who view your content. You have become the yellow pages. You need weather reports, sports, entertainment and so on. I think you get the picture. Impremedia certainly has the reach and resources to succeed in their new venture. To what extent it remains to be seen. They need to remember that news is local, so in order to have the traffic to monetize their site they will need the talent to keep the consumer coming back. Victor Escalante Houston Chronicle Recruitment advertising Yahoo Hot Jobs

Dear Roger, Very great point made in the blog and very proffesional. You are correct and i want you to visit www.sea-latino.com where the concept behind it is to create an identity and a sense of belonging with all latinos. I agree with you that we need to create a vehicle where the latino can feel like at home. We are and continue to work hard to get closer to the community and make them participants and integrate them to society creating them a product that will make them feel part of them, thats why our product in print and online are made because the latino community are worthy of good quality, with information as well as with their daily lives. The latino deserves after all the struggle coming to this country to have products that will make them part and never forgetting the essence of their culture and where they come from. Regards Christian

Christian you missed the point of Roger's post. He is refering to monetizing print publishers online sites not a stand alone site as yours. While your strategy is noble and you have an ok site. You won't have the reach nor the unique repeat visitors that Roger is talking about. This is a great topic. The print industry is in a major evolutionary phase. Gutenberg would turn in his grave if he knew what is happening to his invention.

Responding to John Paton... Wow, John, seems like my comments hit a soft spot. In fact, I compliment Impremedia's effort to at least keep moving the bar (call it harnessing or whatever you want) ...I hardly called you or Impremedia stupid. Am I stupid to pose the question on just about every publisher's mind? Maybe I am, but the question has been on many advertiser's minds also. And since many publishers are suffering, maybe we should turn to the folks at Impremedia to show us the way. Still, the truth of the matter is that throwing out numbers about reaching 40% of the Hispanic population seem high. None the less, the issue here is (1) how to monetize a web component when you are a small-midsize, local publisher that can't latch on to some national selling network or isn't owned by a large investment firm and (2) how to keep the bread and butter business of publishing alive and well. Considering that so much ad revenue is going into broadcast, what are publishers to do? True, content has been digital for years, but where is the value of the content in terms of monetizing it for your business? I am not sure what part of my blog you paraphrased, but you are right about it being about the audience...if the audience is delivered to the advertiser. Otherwise, why take advertising in the first place?

Roger, Good post. Personally, I think that online for print entities (either Hispanic focused or other) is still an evolutionary process - that is the nature and beauty of the web. Impremedia's latest effort is interesting and only time will tell if it works. This sprang out for me: "When it seems that most research points to a younger, English dominant Latino as the core, online user, how will these predominantly Spanish language newspaper sites create the kind of appeal that already seems to exist in Yahoo, AOL Latino and others such portals? Also noticeable is that many of these same younger, Latino online users often don’t read newspapers, much less in Spanish." fyi I made your post one of my picks for the day at HispanicTips.com. Thanks for writin' it. Tomas

As partner is a multicultural media planning and buying service, I am faced daily with questions from clients as to how we best reach the ethnic audiences. I have seen all of the Impremedia products, and am concerned that the new web portal does not close the deal with the audience. It is not relevant to the individual, and has no reason to generate traffic, rather it is a technology in search of an audience. I have also seen the copies of Sea Latino, which is new and claims to be in distribution in several major cities. But this paper does not relate to the local market either, and fails to justify the production of a nationally produced Spanish language paper, especially when so many vital and relevant papers exist in the markets, and these are Hispanic owned. I have also seen comments from Mr. Paton at the recent AHAA conference about competing with Television. Mr. Paton and the panelists were incorrect in their assessment of why TV is not questioned as to sets in use (comparing this metric to the question of print circulation and coverage). The TV question was asked by planners and marketers, when TV did not have a penetration of 100% HH, and multiple sets per HH. Print, especially those who aspire to be national like the aggregated Impremedia product line and web portal, need to understand that they will never be truly national, nor will they ever have the penetration of TV. Whether we are talking about print integration with web, or the aspiration of any medium to be national, most marketers would prefer a solid coverage of an interested and involved audience to aggregated numbers of soft readers and viewers. In our company planning strategy, we work very hard to sell the best target audience, the most concentrated distribution, and more importantly than big numbers, we work for a relevant reader/viewer experience in our media relationships. I guess this is what makes media planning so exciting! Richard Mazloom Partner Multi-Cultural Media Services, LLC www.multi-culturalmedia.com

muy buen trabajo, tardo mucho tiempo en aparecer, yo estaba escandalisado por haber tardado tanto tiempo para aparecer en el mercado, esta publicacion. feliz y superproductiva iniciativa max

How do we monetize a newspaper’s online presence? It seems so simple. But why hasn't this been seen a great way on the Hispanic side is more an issue of infrastructure, promotion, content and cost. Spanish-language newspapers in the U.S. have much to gain from expanding their online presence. There is continued growth in online usage among Spanish-dominant Hispanics, and internet portals such as Univision.com, Yahoo! Telemundo, Terra.com and starMedia continue to see advertiser growth. In terms of a news source, each offer national and international news of particular interest to Latinos. But local and regional news falls short. As English-language newspaper readership continues to shift to the internet, the same will happen for Hispanic newspapers. It may take some time, but it will happen. In regard to content - make it "instant." This is a necessity in the "overcommunicated world." Spanish-language newspapers with websites must offer at least two daily news updates, have a dedicated web team offering video reports and offer up a monitored blog. Local news can be paired with sports, Vida, Finanzas and other important sections and serve as an ancillary (at first) necessity to the daily newspaper. Eventually more web traffic can be seen, and then the advertiser will show keen interest in the site. But will declining circulation be the result of a website that is of real use to Hispanics? Yes. But that's the case of ANY newspaper with a decent website. It's the reality of the newspaper industry. I love newspapers. Ever since I was in second grade I wanted to work at a newspaper. Newspapers bring the world to one's fingertips and tell stories in ways radio and TV cannot. But the newspapers have shot themselves in the foot by cutting in the newsroom when times get bad. Now, newspapers are outsourcing layout and design to teams in Southeast Asia. AP and Reuters are replacing international correspondents at all but the biggest newspapers. Senior staff reporters are being given buyout packages because they earn too much. The result is subpar quality. Even the New York Times as of late has great new humor section - its "For the Record" and "Corrections" on page 4. But waiting as long as they have in developing websites is perhaps the smartest thing Hispanic newspapers have done in trying to tackle the web. Throughout the Spanish-speaking world some great websites have incorporated the daily newspaper in wonderful ways. I invite readers to visit www.elpais.es or www.elcomercio.com.pe as excellent models for Latino newspapers in the U.S. I also invite readers to read the recent special report I authored for Hispanic Market Weekly for a full scope of viewers and news on what's going on for Spanish-language newspapers. http://www.hispanicmarketweekly.com/article.cms?id=9968&mode=print

The question you ask (How do we monetize a newspaper’s online presence?) applies not only to Hispanic media but to the media industry as a whole. It is still a very valid question. Look at the numbers: how is it possible that with a 25% increase in online audience in 2007 US newspapers are still seeing a decline in business? Why is the print CPM still higher than the online CPM? Or, put differently, why is a print reader “better” than an online reader? BUT, this question is valid mostly for companies who already have an online audience and are figuring out what to do with it (like the New York Times and Dow Jones). The only Hispanic media company that has that “problem” right now is Univision. First, let’s not confuse things (as marketers usually do). In talking about language-preference you are basically defining the audience. English-dominant, US born Hispanics are NOT interchangeable for Foreign-born, Spanish-dominant Latin Americans. These are two different audiences. Choose one. It’s almost like saying: why publish a blog on wedding cakes if people want to read about sports? Two different things, two different audiences. Impremedia’s is targeting Spanish-dominant readers, and they should keep doing so online. Even when Mr Paton’s reaction to your post is on the defensive side, he is right: it is about how a platform-agnostic-content-company can use all the available media to get its message to its audience. It IS about audience and about using all the tools at hand, whichever platform. Forget about cannibalization. Firstly, it is mostly proven that online readers and print readers usually are two different people, which basically means that you can “duplicate” content without losing your audience. How you package and offer this content to attract these readers is the key. You also question why companies don’t charge for their content online. As you might know, most tried and failed. Even Dow Jones, which is the sole case where a newspaper was able to get subscribers, is considering opening the WSJ site. Why? Because volume — number of users — makes for better business than pay-per-use content. So, your main question — how to monetize — is still valid, but the factors that you list — paid vs free, cannibalization, language-preference -- are things that have been thoroughly answered. You start from an old framework. So, how will they be able to monetize it? Understanding what their core audience wants — tackling their main interests and covering local information--, exploiting each platform’s qualities at their full potential (when talking about the web, this includes user generated content — citizen journalism --, breaking news, multimedia offerings, blogs, useful-hiper-local information, listings, event-calendars, searchable data bases, maps, etc). How expensive is this? Very. Is this WORTH doing? Is the Spanish-dominant audience big enough to sustain this? Will advertisers come? Is the Spanish-dominant audience concentrated enough to support a hiper-local website or its too spread around the country? Are they already getting their news from sources in their countries of origin? These are all valid questions, but once they decide to do it — like Impremedia has — they should know that the Web is a very powerful media to disseminate the news and reach a wide audience IF you understand its qualities and exploit them properly.

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