My Experiences Visiting Online Publishers in Latin America

September 23rd, 2013 by Ben M.

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Fidgeting in the waiting room of the Brazilian Consulate in NYC, I could barely contain my excitement for my upcoming trip. After discussing my outlook on the future of publishing in South America (on this very blog) I was challenged by Chart-leadership to put my projections to the test.

It made sense - while my beliefs were grounded in a largely myopic view of the region based on our local partners and my own research, I had little experience on the ground. Meeting with the folks creating content, talking to the people who were building their brand around a specific, local audience - this was what I needed. So off I went.

My first stop was in Lima, Peru - for a publisher’s conference hosted by INMA. INMA is an organization built for news media organizations around the world - established to share ideas and sustain growth in the uncertain publishing market. Nearly all major local publishers were in attendance for two days of seminars, lunches, and a couple cocktails here and there.

At a very high-level, the conference focused on how publishers can build a brand targeted at a specific audience and develop that brand through print, digital and e-comm verticals. Yes, I said print. Print circulation is actually growing in Latin America. There were a wide range of stimulating talks, but two that stood out to me were:
  • Carlos Ruiz of Reset: Agencia de Medios spoke about “los nuevos paradigmas” or the different mediums through which a publisher can capture the attention of their audience. Yet the various mediums, according to him, made no difference. Creating content based on how readers consume your content, he reasoned, is more important than focusing on print over digital, or vice versa.

  • Maria Eugenia Castaneda, a consultant from Guatemala talked about intelligent market analysis and the increased importance of understanding who your audience is and how they consume your content. Once you understand the audience and have your “message” the task at hand is to figure out which product or medium you use to deliver that message.

The importance of connecting with an audience and building content around that audience became abundantly clear - an issue I focus on in American and European markets today.

Yet digital in South America is a candle in the sun (when it comes to revenue) compared with print (Tweet this) - meaning that editors and product managers can take more risks. Digital can showcase what might work in print (as it’s not core to the business) making it the perfect breeding ground for radical innovation when it comes to online publishing.

Editors and PM’s can find new ways to reach their audience and to create their content, experimenting with different mediums and hyper-targeted branding. As digital moves into the H1 position (see what I did there?) audience-focused workflows will be longstanding, sustaining the growth beget by print. Whoa.

After Lima, I went to Sao Paulo for a few meetings with local publishers. The conversations I had there only furthered signs of encouragement for future market growth in the years to come. I picked up some interesting facts along the way, namely that the country-wide ad spend on Facebook Advertising is equivalent to that of Google Adwords. After working as an Adwords consultant a few years ago, I was blown away by that stat.

40% of people in Brazil share news stories on Facebook (Tweet this) , making it ever-more important for publishers to understand how those readers coming over from Facebook are consuming their content in the hopes of converting those users into long-term and returning readers. The amount of activity on Facebook, in general, is outstanding. The growth in new Brazilian Facebook users is nearly double that of the next leading country, India. With more people coming through Facebook to these news sites, it’s going to become even more important to understand that audience and how to build upon it - something we at Chartbeat might be able to help out with!

Over the next few years we’ll see a multitude of innovations in the publishing space as more people come online around South America. The sustainable growth of print will buoy this innovation and allow people to experiment widely and often. Would love to get some of your feedback - hit me up!