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Reaching Hispanics Online

While we've recently learned that Hispanics are the largest growing minority in the U.S. (more than 41.3 million according to the U.S. Census Bureau's July 2004 report), understanding the best way for marketers to reach this community is still fundamentally a new endeavor. Although traditional methods such as running television, radio or newspaper advertisements can be an effective approach, engaging this audience through mediums like the internet can have a major impact on marketers' strategies.

Recently, there has been a significant growth in the amount of Hispanics using the internet for the first time, which ultimately unlocks new ways for marketers to reach this audience segment. Research has shown that almost half of the adult Hispanic population has internet access at home (44 percent), and nearly 60 percent have access from any location. Most importantly, half of Hispanics with internet access at home are on broadband. As Hispanics become more accustomed to using the web, they are beginning to carve out their own unique path in search of an online community that reflects their unique lifestyle, issues and culture.

Questions remain, however: should marketers advertise in Spanish or English? Are marketing messages different for this community than the general population?

Targeting Hispanics Online…
Like never before, online information is influencing major purchase decisions among Hispanics. Over 60 percent of online Hispanics consider the internet the best information source for making their final brand decisions. They turn to the internet as a medium of self improvement and a means of making a better life for their kids. Although the internet engages the Hispanic community, many Hispanics still feel something is missing. Online Hispanics say they would spend even more time online if they were given information that is even more relevant to their community.

Online communications among Hispanics goes well beyond email. Hispanics meet electronically with others in unusually high numbers. They visit chat rooms and online message boards at far greater numbers than their online general population counterparts. According to the 2005 AOL/Roper Hispanic Cyberstudy, Hispanics are particularly frequent movie- and amusement park-goers, and they use the internet to coordinate their entertainment activities, from researching options to making purchases. They are also looking for more personal finance content and are even rushing to get broadband. 

The bottom line?  There's a growing Hispanic online audience that's waiting and ready to be tapped. 

Yo Quiero Español?
Research indicates that language is an important factor when trying to engage consumers in advertising. One thing to note: to be successful, a marketer must take into consideration Hispanic culture and language choices. Tapping into more Spanish content is key. Understanding diversity, Hispanic online social behavior, Hispanic language needs, and their unique shared passions may help engage this expanding market segment.

It is important to know the consumer. The Spanish language is a vital element when communicating with the online Hispanic community. It is a necessity for those who speak predominantly Spanish, and it is a preference for a majority of all online Hispanics. If a marketer is targeting Hispanics, multiple-language marketing is essential.

Empower Me…
Not only is it ideal to offer ads in multiple languages but it important to offer ideas and concepts of empowerment. The recurring dominant theme among Hispanics getting online is self-improvement and making life significantly better life for their children. 

But how to offer this? A good way is to not only incorporate key messages in campaigns but also to develop integrated advertising solutions. An example is AOL Latino's partnership with Ford Motor Company to launch the Mi Negocio small business site.

In April 2004, AOL Latino and Ford Motor Company joined forces to launch the first-ever Spanish language online business community hub designed to help Hispanic entrepreneurs start or grow a business. The hub was a one-stop resource -- with services ranging from live chats, to in-person forums with Hispanic business leaders, to the first-time availability of key articles from top general market magazines in Spanish. Last month, AOL Latino and Ford Motor Company took Mi Negocio to the next level with the launch of El Visionario, a groundbreaking online business contest for Hispanic entrepreneurs. This hub presents a key way for Ford to reach the growing Hispanic demographic, while creating an empowering message using the interactive medium.

The success of this initiative clearly shows how a creative and smartly crafted empowerment message works well for this community.

Craving Creative Ideas...
The internet is an expanding major entertainment medium for online Hispanics. This audience is ahead of the online general population in their use of the internet as a source of music and entertainment. We've learned, however, that Hispanics are still searching for more information around finance, healthcare and home improvement.

While implementing additional content is essential, it is important to note that marketers can work with collateral and promotions they already have. A developing opportunity to take into consideration is coupons. According to the 2005 Hispanic Cyberstudy, 53 percent of online Hispanics use store or manufacturer coupons when shopping for household products or food. Also, it is important to note that Hispanics rely heavily on the internet for product research. The combination of high internet use for consumer information and active coupon use means developing a campaign with the use of coupons or other special promotions has great potential with this market.

In conclusion, as marketers look to develop new ways of reaching the largest minority group in the country, developing a highly creative online campaign will complement and strengthen any marketing strategy. We've seen the increase in Hispanics coming online, spending an average of over 9 hours a week at home and, for those who work, over 11 hours a week at work, and we know that this community is also actively engaged in a variety of online activities. Reaching this audience through online advertising, when developed creatively and strategically with language considerations and empowerment messages, can be just what any brand marketer is looking to achieve.

As publisher of AOL's Spanish language service AOL Latino, Mark López oversees the interactive marketing sales team responsible for building new advertising partnerships with clients looking to reach U.S. Hispanic consumer. Most recently, López was Director of Sales Development, Multicultural for AOL Media Networks, where he developed and executed creative multicultural sales/marketing solutions for clients and coordinated programs and product teams to drive revenue goals. Prior to joining AOL, Lopez was Chief Strategy Officer at Terra Networks USA, responsible for developing a growth strategy for the US Hispanic webportal.   From 1998 - 2000, he worked for J2 Communications as the Director of Strategic Alliances managing and directing partnership agreements with AOL, Prodigy and CompuServe, BellSouth and Ameritech, among others.


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