Mario Alfano, MBA ’84:
The digital newsman
The decline of the American newspaper is muchreported,
but, as Mario Alfano, senior vice president
of marketing and strategy at ImpreMedia, would tell
you, one segment of the media is navigating these choppy waters quite well — the segment that
serves the media needs of Hispanic Americans.
ImpreMedia is the largest Hispanic news and information company in the country in online and print media offerings, with newspapers in the top seven U.S. Hispanic markets, and a reach that extends to almost two-thirds of the U.S. Hispanic population. As other papers have seen their subscription numbers drop precipitously, papers such as New York City’s El Diario have actually been growing, says Alfano. And ever since Impre.com, the company’s online news portal, was launched in April 2008 under Alfano’s direction, the number of visitors has increased from 300,000 to over one million.
“They’re an interesting, particular
group,” Alfano says of ImpreMedia’s
readership. He explains that, traditionally,
looked to Latin American sources for
news from back home. Impre hopes
to bring those services to the same readership under a U.S. umbrella, so readers can receive news of
their homeland and the U.S. all in one place. “We think of ourselves as a U.S. site that happens to
cater to people who speak Spanish.” As one would expect, the content on ImpreMedia’s Web site
and in its hard-copy newspapers is shaped to satisfy the unique interests of its readership — immigrant
alerts and soccer news get top billing, as did the confirmation hearings for Judge Sonia
Sotomayor this past summer. Not satisfied with increasing user visits to the Web site, Alfano is also
exploring different ways to deliver content: since recent Hispanic immigrants are ten times more
likely to have a mobile phone than a computer, Impre has ramped up their mobile offerings, which
now include such paper newspaper staples as classified ads and personals.
Alfano understands what it’s like to crave news from back home; he frequently reads newspapers from his parents’ birth country of Italy to see what’s going on in the world of his distant relatives, and, earlier in his work life, he was based in Hong Kong, Canada, and Argentina, and had to make the effort to seek out news from the ‘States.
Thus far, he’s enjoying the challenge of strategizing for this special slice of the media pie. “Since we don’t do TV, it’s a smaller footprint, but that leaves me more freedom to be creative,” Alfano says. “And that part I really enjoy.”