By Giovanni Rodriguez (Forbes.com)
In one of the fastest growing markets for media and mobile, what is the new lingua franca?
Wow. Or should I say wepa? The first month of the year is not over, and already we have seen three big indicators that media companies and advertisers are chasing the Latino market, and language is the story. Last week, Fox announced that they will be launching a Spanish-language TV network. This morning, NBC Latino, an English-language operation, announced their launch on Facebook and Twitter. Also this morning is news from Ooyala that it is powering the introduction of cable network NuvoTV — whose audiences prefer English and a little bit of Spanglish — into a range of social and mobile environments.
I say that language is the story in each of these announcements because of an interesting experience I had a few days ago. I was in Pasadena to take part in a panel discussion at Southern California Public Radio and someone in the audience asked why so many media companies were confused about their Spanish language strategy. I replied that media companies are not at all confused but instead are beginning to gain a finer grasp of the Latino population and their preferences for language, content, and engagement. The three announcements throw the situation into sharp relief.
Not long ago, I remember, Fox raised eyebrows when it announced a mostly English-language Web property called Fox News Latino. The news was not just that it was Fox doing this, but the network’s choice of language. But that gave media pundits an opportunity to step back and explain the importance of a demographic — English-preferring Latinos — in the overall mix of Latino media. Until fairly recently, if you heard someone say “Latino media,” you would have assumed she was talking about Spanish-language TV and print. The new assembly of players better reflect how the market has evolved. A piece of news that got less attention last week was Univision’s decision to provide subtitles for some of its telenovelas, a move designed to cater to the many consumers who like Hispanic content but don’t speak Spanish. Many of those consumers are Latino, and there’s no reason not to go after them.
But language preferences are not all that has changed in the world of Latino media. With study after study showing that Latinos out-index most other ethnic groups in social media and smartphone adoption, it’s no wonder that media companies and advertisers are looking at content that better fits on smaller screens. Good case in point is NuvoTV’s Operation: Osmin, which Wikipedia describes as a reality show led by “celebrity fitness trainer Osmin Hernandez, who was part of an elite Cuban military unit but discharged for being clinically insane.” Lots of potential for lively content, right? Right, and a lot of it has been rendered in the form of short-form clips that fans can watch on mobile devices. And yes, the back-and-forth happens mostly in English, but if you’re a fan you’ll be tickled by the occasional use of Spanish andSpanglish.
But I’m guessing that content is only part of the experience that makes this and other experiments so compelling to advertisers. NBC Latino provides a place for its fans to share, interact, and engage with a community, not just reporters. And NuvoTV’s entry into the social space enables it to “sell an audience” to advertisers, not just eyeballs, according to Bismarck Lepe, co-founder and president of products at Ooyala. If the three announcements I noted at the top of this article illustrate the complexity of language in the new Latino marketing mix, the overall trend toward social and mobility is where advertisers might find more growth, opportunity and innovation. In the meantime, if you find yourselves trying to engage in these new environments and you don’t really know Spanish, the little you learned in High School may serve you well … as long as you are authentic. The random Spanglish that is spoken there enriches experiences for a growing population for people who might prefer English but like to remind themselves and others where they are from. And isn’t that what social is all about? Claro que si.
Categories: NGLC Conference