Hispanics Are Online, But Marketers Don’t See Them

By Lee Vann (MediaPost)

Here’s a question for online marketers: What percent of U.S. online advertising spending do you think is targeted to Hispanics?

Let me give you a couple of clues. The digital marketing site eMarketer expects U.S. online advertising spending to reach $31 billion in 2011.  Hispanics make up about 15% of the total U.S. online market.

Fifteen percent would be too high, as many online Hispanics are bilingual and or prefer English, and general market online advertising reaches a large majority of them. So perhaps somewhere in the mid-single digits would make sense, say 5% or about $1.5 billion?  If that was your guess, you would be way off. Industry figures peg U.S. Hispanic online advertising at only $200 million this year, a mere 0.65% of the total investment in U.S. online advertising.

In the past ten years I have seen investment in the Hispanic online market grow, albeit at a much slower level than U.S. online advertising in general.  When you look at the numbers, the disparity between U.S. online and Hispanic online investment is shocking.

So why is it that marketers spend less than 1% of their digital budgets against a group that represents 15% of the online market?  Perhaps it is because most of the people that allocate digital marketing dollars are not Hispanic and they do not see or feel the Hispanic online market first hand. Maybe they don’t really think that Hispanics are online?

To invest in something, you have to understand it

For years professionals in our industry have struggled to prove that Hispanics are online, sending research study after research study to anybody who would listen.  After nearly a decade of countless PowerPoints, conference calls and meetings, we have made inroads, but still we have only gotten to 0.65% of the market.  There has to be a better way.

As I was doing some research on the leading Hispanic Facebook pages it clicked.  These large, colorful and engaged Hispanic Facebook communities are the digital equivalent of a Hispanic market immersion tour.  These tours have been successfully used in Hispanic marketing for a while as they take non-Hispanic marketing executives into Hispanic neighborhoods so that they can see and feel the Hispanic market first hand, something a PowerPoint can never accomplish.

So I invite those who allocate digital marketing dollars on a Hispanic online market immersion tour to see and feel the Hispanic online market first hand.  Spend five minutes checking out the top five Spanish Hispanic media and brand Facebook pages.  Even if you don’t understand Spanish, the sheer numbers, faces and engagement levels you will see will give you a real senses for the Hispanic online market.

  1. http://www.facebook.com/univision                               263,000 Likers
  2. http://www.facebook.com/telemundo                            150,000 Likers
  3. http://www.facebook.com/peopleenespanol                   107,000 Likers
  4. http://www.facebook.com/statefarmlatino                      103,000 Likers
  5. http://www.facebook.com/vivemejor                              101,000 Likers

I am hopeful that marketers will take me up on my invitation and see firsthand that Hispanics are online and worth much more than 0.65%.

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2 replies

  1. Nice post Lee. We have seen similar penetration / level of investment in online local advertising for small businesses. The gap is even more pronounced as we are not looking at average 15% of the market but in some areas that are 25%, 30% or even 50% Hispanic.

    At the local level, there are two issues: 1) as you said is understanding or awareness; 2) Is how to effectively reach them online locally.

    Local businesses like dentists, accountants, and restaurants have less access to information than major brands. For them it has been critical to provide detailed education and information about a) the number of hispanics online in the local area, b) what and how they are searching, and c) how they are finding merchants like them.

    Even for those business owners that are interested to advertise specifically to HIspanics online locally they don’t know how to go about it. They may have been advertising in local hispanic media – but haven’t effectively reached Hispanics online. For them it has been very helpful to show them how they can advertise specifically to their category and keywords of interest in Spanish and English in their location online, and of course, to show them the results and ROI that comes from it.

    We’ve sending an upward trend and interest and we remain optimistic about the direction.

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