Ad Buyers Miss the Mark Targeting Hispanic Customers

07 Dec

Ad Buyers Miss the Mark Targeting Hispanic Customers


Jordan Woods leads digital ad sales for, a Spanish to English dictionary.

Years ago, my well-meaning classmate stated, “I just love Latino culture!” Our Spanish professor smiled and asked, “Which one?” My professor’s response highlights a point missed by many advertisers: A singular “Latino culture” doesn’t exist.

U.S. Hispanics aren’t a monolithic market segment; they don’t all speak the same language, nor do they visit the same websites. After years of limited success, these cultural nuances are being addressed by major advertisers such as Kellogg. Still, many advertisers continue to struggle. Success in the market will largely be determined by how well advertisers understand U.S. Hispanics.

Unlike general market initiatives, where advertisers target using hyper-specific criteria (18-34 that see movies every third Friday and whose favorite color is chartreuse), Hispanic initiatives lack direction, especially when it comes to language. The myth that Spanish-only ads are the key to effectiveness has long been refuted. Unfortunately, the popular alternative — English-only ads — can be an equally erroneous choice depending on who is viewing the ad. According to Pew Hispanic Center, a mere 23 percent of foreign-born Hispanics claim to be able to adequately carry on a conversation in English. That number jumps to 88 percent among second-generation Hispanics.

One suggestion for advertisers: Segment campaigns by age and geography. This is especially important when noting the disparity in English proficiency among Hispanics in San Antonio (81 percent) and those in Miami (52 percent).

I recently asked a digital strategist about his game plan for a major advertiser’s Hispanic campaign. “We’ll work with some Hispanic networks and figure it out as we go,” he said. The current inclination of many advertisers is to play it safe: Buy display units through a network, run a few Hispanic campaigns and hope for the best. This approach is like pawning a screaming kid off on his aunt: You can’t figure out what to do, so you let someone else figure it out for you.

Advertisers should work with publishers to learn how to engage their audience. We’ve found that native units maximize Hispanic user engagement because we integrate them with language-learning activities. We’re able to do this in English and in Spanish because our users are working toward becoming bilingual. Brands must work to deploy engaging creatives that make sense on the sites where they appear.

Major brand advertisers continue to create beautiful integrated campaigns complete with well-executed native ads — but not for Hispanics. What do they get? A 728×90 banner on a Spanish-language news site. No wonder it’s not working.

Advertisers need to stop limiting their best ideas to their primary market when a large, untapped opportunity awaits them. Hispanics engage more with ads than non-Hispanics. Give them something to engage with, and boost your brand. With U.S. Hispanic buying power nearing $1.3 trillion, it is the new digital frontier. Savvy brands recognize the opportunity and pioneer a new relationship with a vast and growing market.


Posted by on December 7, 2012 in Uncategorized


2 responses to “Ad Buyers Miss the Mark Targeting Hispanic Customers

  1. traveler012

    December 11, 2012 at 11:36 pm

    First off if we are talking about advertising in the U.S., advertisements should be done in English. You won’t go to Spain and find English advertisements; we would have to know Spanish in order to understand. This is The United States of America. We speak English. If you don’t speak English please learn. I realize this is a touchy subject, but it’s also something I have always felt strongly about. When anyone travels to another country you have to learn the language, that’s all part of it. It should be no different when visiting or living in the U.S.

  2. maverick41

    December 13, 2012 at 11:35 pm

    I mostly disagree with traveler012. I understand this is America and English is the dominant language. However, look at the history of this country. The very roots. We were not established as one race and that is only becoming more true as the years pass by. This country was founded by foreigners, and only brought along more as the country thrived. Accepting this and realizing all the different cultures in our great country is simply something all people need to do. It is not as easy to just “learn English” when all you have known your entire life is Spanish. The Hispanics would likely say “Why should we have to learn a new language? We have lived in this country our whole life speaking Spanish.” In order to properly address this issue one must analyze BOTH sides of the argument. That being said, there are specific Spanish channels in Latino heavy areas, that alone is part of the solution to this problem. Simply place the commercials, ads, and whatever else we are trying to communicate to them on the channels that they are most likely to successfully receove the message.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: