An Ode To U.S. Hispanic Market Fragmentation

   By David Chitel (CEO & Founder, NGL Media / Chairman, NGLC)

The U.S. Hispanic market has come a long way since its early beginnings as a media audience that was solely defined by language and targeted by traditional means.

In the decades that have passed, there has been a seismic shift, not only in the size of our market, but also in its composition which is now heavily driven by U.S.-born New Generation Latinos, or NGLs.  As was recently pointed out in a HispanicAd post  , the Spanish-language TV market is alive and well with 5 network affiliates, 31 mostly Spanish Cable channels, tons of local independents (3 in LA alone) and new networks on the way. There is no shortage of content for U.S. Hispanics seeking traditional Spanish-language media with spending against this sector totaling $6B at last measure.  That’s approximately 5% of all ad expenditures vs. Hispanics’ 16% U.S. population contribution.  For those doing the math, 5% is a HUGE under-spend against an audience with $1 trillion in annual purchasing power that is growing exponentially year over year.   This has been well documented.

My NGLC organization’s biggest point of contention has always been that advertisers need to spend to the TOTAL Hispanic market, and not just one sector of it.  Easier said than done in a fragmented media environment with the majority of outlets catering to in-language vs. in-culture. With U.S.-born NGLs representing upwards of 62% of the U.S. Hispanic market, thankfully there are several TV networks catering exclusively to this sector.  More Fortune 500 advertisers need to check that NGL TV box at a bare minimum.  Other new and exciting offerings such as Hispanics at NBCU are now giving advertisers the opportunity to target and reach Hispanics on mainstream English-language media.  At our conference in April, the NGLC publicly acknowledged that targeting Hispanics in-culture using culturally-relevant creative simply must be part of advertisers’ “total market” consideration set.  Kudos to Hispanics at NBCU for their efforts in this space, and for packaging it in a tangible way that enables advertisers to act.

Simply put, the U.S. Hispanic market is fragmented in more ways than one.  With a growing Online audience of 30MM excluding the millions more consuming in-culture content via Smartphone, Tablet and IPTV, NGLs are once again driving growth from technology adoption to social media participation and even Digital content creation.  If you were impressed by the number of TV outlets targeting U.S. Hispanics think about the number of Digital destinations they visit on a daily basis in both languages.  Fragmentation indeed.

So why the “ode” reference in the title of this piece?   If you haven’t applied the P.O.E.M. acronym to your U.S. Hispanic communications planning vernacular as of yet, now is a prime time to start.  For those who are unfamiliar, P.O.E.M. stands for “Paid,” “Owned” and “Earned” “Media.”  Everyone’s familiar with Paid Media in the traditional sense, but what about Owned and Earned Media?  Moreover, how does an advertiser leverage all three together to maximize engagement around their brands to drive awareness, message association and purchase consideration?  Starting with Owned Media that can range from an original piece of branded content to what some call “narrative marketing,” it provides the ideal platform to organically serve up a brand’s message in a contextually relevant environment.  As for Earned Media, which may include PR-related mentions on traditional platforms, blogs and/or social media, one cannot put a price tag on such exposure.  Case in point, Facebook is hinging a huge part of their advertising strategy on what people “Like” and either directly or indirectly recommend within their personal networks.   I can go on in greater detail, but suffice it to say, Paid, Owned and Earned Media when utilized together in addressable video formats yields the best results.   Recent studies  have shown that this is particularly true for females who make the majority of household purchase decisions.

How does this apply to the fragmented U.S. Hispanic market?  To bring things full circle, implementing the P.O.E.M. approach when marketing to Hispanics who are over-indexing on all things Digital is critical to growing an advertiser’s brand.  This is especially true when targeting NGLs who represent the vast majority of U.S. Hispanics online today.  To cite the NGLC’s Máximo Report <> , word-of-mouth is a vital tool that New Generation Latinos use to discover new brands and products.  Factor in their intense social media consumption, and it’s no wonder the majority of them have learned of a new brand or product via social media.   In the Digital space where tens of millions of NGLs reside, taking advantage of its efficiencies and measurability coupled with a P.O.E.M. approach just makes good business sense. Moreover, there’s no such thing as “waste” in Digital, where fragmentation is actually a good thing given today’s micro-targeting (and re-targeting) tools.   In a media world that is becoming increasingly more fragmented, utilizing techniques such as those referenced herein are imperative to truly embracing a total Hispanic market approach and maximizing advertisers’ returns.

I’m curious to hear your opinions, so please feel free to comment below.

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