Inside Business Insider’s new Spanish operation

While some publishers are slowing their global expansion pace, Business Insider remains bullish about its growth overseas. The publisher has moved aggressively into Europe in the last three years, launching seven local-language sites. Next up: Spain.

Business Insider will launch a Spanish-language site before the end of this month. The publisher has been able to extend its global footprint quickly by partnering with local publishers that understand BI’s specific style and tone. In Spain, BI’s partner will be its own parent company’s Axel Springer España.

BI Spain will have 13 editorial staffers, including Axel Springer España staffers and freelancers, and 14 sales employees — three of whom will be devoted to BI and the rest from Axel Springer España, which publishes magazines in the motor, technology and entertainment sectors, including Auto Bild, Top Gear and Computer Hoy. Upday, Axel Springer’s news aggregator app that comes installed on Samsung phones, is also included in the portfolio.

The editorial staff won’t be starting from scratch. BI attracts an average of 200,000 to 300,000 monthly visitors from Spain to the English-language version of the site, according to Roddy Salazar, BI’s vp of international. The publisher has learned from experience that once it adds locally sourced, original content in the local language into the mix, that traffic figure multiplies by 10, Salazar said. He hopes the launch of the Spanish site will open the door to a Latin American audience, which would make it likely that the publisher invests there. As it stands, South Africa is next in line for a site launch.

The plan is for a minimum of a third of all content to be original for the Spanish site, and then translate other stories created by its U.S. and U.K. sites that are relevant to the market. Axel Springer España has a well-established video production team, so that will also be a big focus for BI’s Spanish edition, according to Salazar.

Translating articles remains an arduously slow, manual task for many publishers, including BI. The publisher is exploring new ways to speed up translation efforts across its international titles.

BI has partnered with local publishers in each European market it expands to: Bonnier Media in the Nordics, Prisma Media in France, GEDI Gruppo Editoriale in Italy, Grupa Onet in Poland and Finanzen (also part of Axel Springer) in Germany. Salazar is meticulous about how he picks partners, choosing those who not only understand what BI is about as a brand but can prove agility in their own operations. “There is no cookie-cutter approach; each one is very different,” said Salazar.

Business Insider’s international audience is larger than its domestic one, meaning the publisher is still pursuing overseas growth. As many digital media publishers have learned the hard way, building an large audience isn’t always matched with big revenue. Added to that, for U.S. publishers in particular, launching in European markets is tougher than it may appear. Budgets are far smaller than in the U.S. and fragmented across different markets, which can be a barrier for publishers hoping to tap pan-Europe budgets. Salazar admitted that international revenue is not yet reflective of the size of its audience, but he believes it will be in time.

BI has addressed the thorny issue of tackling market-fragmented budgets by creating a European sales network, run by BI’s 12-person London sales team. This network allows clients to run the same campaign in the markets BI operates in, in local languages. Adding Spanish-language inventory to the mix helps complete the offering, according to Salazar. “This consolidates our European footprint into a really attractive package,” he said. “Spain was the last key market in Europe for us to be a part of this pan-regional product.”

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