Re-Assessing Hispanic Media Marketing

By Eve Jenkins for Media Rumba

The recent release of the Ad Age Hispanic Fact Pack 2012 challenges long held ideas about how to market products to Hispanic audiences in America. It has been believed that having Hispanic characters in TV is enough to draw in viewers and advertising revenue. Online marketing and networking is starting to prove to TV executives why the alternative does not have to be Hispanic-centric services in Spanish or run exclusively by and for Hispanic Americans.

Hispanic Fact Pack

Hispanic advertisers, agencies and media agencies were ranked alongside top media outlets such as TV networks, newspapers, magazines, online media sites, social networking sites and radio stations. The data does not cover the first few months of 2012, but are based on data compiled from the previous year. This means that trends may change between the end of data gathering and the publication of the report.

Despite this caveat, the results show a number of interesting things. Hispanic-centric display advertising rose by 25 percent to over $400 million. Overall media that reached the Hispanic community grew by 4.2 percent to $7 billion. The Ad Age study says, however, that Hispanic-centric display advertising represented a total of 3.8 percent of advertising, while Hispanic Americans represent 16 percent of the domestic market.

TV Marketing

According to the New York Times’ Tanzina Vega and Bill Carter, TV networks are struggling to attract Hispanic viewers. The prime example of this failure is “Modern Family.” The theory was simple, the producers would include a well-known and charismatic Hispanic actress and Hispanic viewers would flock to  watch the show. They would then be hooked into the products being advertised. Sofia Vergara is a popular actress, but of the 13 million odd viewers who watch the show, only about 798,000 are Hispanic. This is a tiny amount of the 48 million Hispanic TV viewers in America.

Maybe unsurprisingly, other network shows like “Two and a Half Men” and “Glee” have similar viewing figure ratios. This is a major problem for English language media outlets. TV networks are struggling to move people from Spanish language outlets to English speaking ones. This is not necessarily because of a language difficulty.

Perhaps the best example of why English language shows are failing to attract a decent proportion of Hispanic viewers is demonstrated by the show “Rob.” The show based on Rob Schneider’s life uses cheap stereotypes, which actually insults the audience TV executives are aiming for and advertising for. As Joe Zubizarreta, a Hispanic advertising agent told the New York Times, Hispanics “like to see some semblance of reality in our lives.”

Online Marketing is Working Better

The gap between the Hispanic share of marketing, 3.8 percent, and the purchasing power of Hispanics, roughly 16 percent, demonstrates there is an opportunity to increase advertising partnerships with Hispanic markets. Yet, as also noted above, TV networks are seriously struggling to bring in Hispanic viewers. One reason for this may be the idea that in order to appeal to Hispanic Americans or any ethnic, religious or racial minority, the media content has to represent that community.

Online media and social networking statistics from the Hispanic fact pack shows that in fact the vast majority of Hispanic users are connecting to the same sites and networks as everyone else. 72 percent of online users from the Hispanic community use Facebook. The top Hispanic-centric social network is Univision and it was accessed by 17 percent of users. This ranked fairly close to sites like LinkedIn, Twitter, Tumblr and MySpace. The top sites accessed by Hispanic users were Facebook, Google, Microsoft and Yahoo!.

These are all primarily English language outlets, but are attracting more users than their Hispanic-centric counterparts. This is in direct contrast to TV network media marketing. The reason is simple and is an example for all companies wanting to market toward Hispanic Americans. What Zubizarreta is looking for is respect and equality of access. Marketing does not have to be in Spanish, but it does have to understand the needs and values of the Hispanic community.

The results demonstrate the importance of search engine optimization and social media marketing. The basic principles of SEO marketing are as valuable for Hispanic Americans as anyone else. Correct SEO marketing allows advertisers to find a specific hyper-demographic to which to advertise to. This can be done on major sites like Facebook without having to necessarily spend money on translations or building sites just for Hispanic Americans, though these help of course. It remains to be seen whether American TV networks will learn the value of the Hispanic Ad Age Fact Pack or not.