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It’s a major contrast. While U.S. and European newspapers are losing circulation, readership and revenue, Latin American papers are booming, just like all Latam media outlets. During the last 5 years their circ has gone up by 5%. They also boast a 65% revenue increase between 2006 and 2011. And revenues look to keep going up—projected increases are 14% a year through 2016. There are 3 key reasons behind this boom.
The region’s economic upturn has lifted millions out of poverty. Now they can afford newspapers…and many can also afford the products advertised in them. “Indeed, in Costa Rica both the demographic growth—like the poverty level reduction, income increases and access to wide credit sectors—have created new markets in which, from a business perspective, limited buying power is made up for through a huge amount of buyers,” explains Jorge Robert, Corporate Media Director for Grupo Nación, which publishes La Nación, Costa Rica’s largest daily.
That said, more new readers isn’t enough. According to Robert, “these changes haven’t affected traditional products positively but have sparked new products that are journalistic and commercial successes never before seen in the country.” This means that La Nación and other newspapers have launched new broad-based publications designed to connect with this new group of readers. Examples include tabloid-style or niche pubs like Grupo Nación’s La Teja, El Salvador’s El Gráfico, Puerto Rico’s En Punto and Guatemala’s El Nuevo Diario. They cover lifestyle topics with a simpler, easy-to-read style. One of the biggest success stories among new launches has been the tabloid Super Noticia. Launched in 2002 in Belo Horizonte, Brazil’s third largest city, it serves up a mix of crime and entertainment news spiced up by models in bikinis. Its circ stands at 295,701, number one in the country, according to the Instituto Verificador de Circulação, Brazil’s version of the Audit Bureau of Circulation.
Relatively low Internet penetration in Latam is another reason for the surge. Logically, fewer Internet users mean more potential newspaper readers. But Latam newspapers haven’t just coasted on a having a captive audience with no other information choices. They’ve created dynamic Web sites that have established their brands among Internet users. In other words, the reader that knows Colombia’s El Tiempo from the print version will keep reading it when they migrate to the Web. In fact, according to comScore, Colombian newspapers are among the country’s most popular sites: El Tiempo ranks #7 in unique visitors and El Espectador is at #20. In Argentina, Clarín’s website ranks #5 in unique users and La Nación is at #10. Chile’s El Mercurio is the #5 Web site, followed closely by La Tercera at #7. In Perú, El Comercio’s Web site is at #5, while Mexico’s El Universal newspaper ranks #24 among the country’s most popular Web sites.
Beyond just rebranding on the web, Latam newspapers are also smart about using online media. For instance, La Nación has more than 100,000 Facebook followers. “We hook them into reading our newspaper either in print or online. We don’t take the content to Facebook, we take them from Facebook to La Nación,” explains Robert. El Tiempo does something similar. It posts its headlines on Twitter and drives traffic to its site. In fact, the Colombian daily frequently hired a Twitter header to manage its messaging with the hyper-popular social medium.
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