Tuesday, April 21, 2009

U.S. Hispanics Repesent 10% of the Online Market

True to its reputation as a "melting pot," the U.S. boasts an increasingly large Hispanic population -- the implications of which, when it comes to advertising, go far beyond a language barrier. A recent report from Pew Hispanic Center stated that U.S. Hispanics have represented more than half of U.S. population growth since 2000.

Marketers may have been tempted in the past to ignore this group -- or, at the least, did little to tailor messaging to it -- but it is no longer financially wise to do so. According to a 2008 comScore survey on U.S Hispanics online, 5 percent of U.S. born and 17 percent of foreign-born Hispanics said they pay more attention to online video ads than TV spots, and 17 percent and 26 percent, respectively, find them more engaging than TV ads. The same survey also states that 13 percent of U.S. born and 22 percent of foreign-born Hispanics said they are more likely to respond to ads targeted to Hispanics.

The comparison of TV and online advertising as it relates to response rates should be viewed in context of the language barrier. In the U.S., there are television networks such as Univision, which are broadcast in Spanish and include direct cultural relevance to Hispanic audiences. These types of channels are certainly not the only ones that Spanish-speaking audiences may view, but they are a specific destination on television where they know they can see programming in their language. Similarly, the internet is a much vaster marketplace, but those same types of destinations exist, even though Spanish-language sites are not the only ones viewed by Hispanic audiences.

As more ad dollars shift to this growing segment of the U.S. population, those destinations will become in-demand (i.e., expensive) online inventory for marketers. So how do you reach out to other cultures in an effective and cost-efficient way?

Behavioral targeting can help marketers reach across the cultural divide, helping to identify Hispanic online audiences, or any other ethnic group for that matter, and deliver messaging that is relevant to not only their language, but also their overall culture. It can also expand the inventory marketers use to reach Hispanic audiences.

Behavioral targeting is used to create Hispanic audience segments first based on users who have visited Spanish-language sites or any sites with Hispanic-relevant content. You can then create sub-segments based on not only ethnicity, culture, or language, but also interests and purchase intent behaviors observed on those or other sites. You can even identify "purchase influencers" among U.S. Hispanic populations, based on browsing and buying behaviors plus geographic location. You may then serve culturally relevant marketing messages to these segments when they travel to any other site online.

You will also find re-targeting useful, once you have begun to build these behavioral segments. As you serve ads to your Hispanic audiences and sub-segments, you can then re-target them across whichever network or sites you choose, with upsell, cross-sell, or discount offers. As a marketer, make sure you're making the most out of these types of programs by using bilingual creative, or messages in Spanish, with themes and designs that will resonate with a Hispanic audience.

Finally, ensure that you are integrating your marketing into these segments with your other media programs. With your search program, you can strengthen your segments by layering your behavioral data with your search data. Behavioral profiles that have been tagged as part of a Hispanic audience or sub-segment can be given a boost by search data including Spanish-language or Hispanic content keywords or search engines that have been set to Spanish.

Consumer education is a challenge no matter what language you're speaking or audience you're trying to reach. If you decide to embark on a Hispanic-focused BT campaign, ensure that your privacy policies are clearly communicated in both languages on your site, as well as any type of opt-out or opt-in functions you provide.

According to SMG Multicultural CEO Monica Gadsby, 19.5 million U.S. Hispanics are online, 70 percent of Hispanic women are online, and Hispanics make up 10 percent of all online users. This might be a significant portion of your potential customer pool, and reaching out to them can be just as easy as reaching out to any audience segments, with a few process and creative changes. Based on its ability to accurately segment audiences, behavioral targeting is by far the most efficient way to market to the Hispanic population. And remember, these same principles can be applied to any cultural group that you want to reach out to in the country.