Hispanic Search: The Who, Where and What For

Most Popular Search Engines Among U.S. Hispanic Adults

“From a digital perspective, search is certainly the most efficient manner to reach Hispanics and is the building block for any successful digital campaign; but it’s exponentially more successful when analyzed and managed simultaneously with offline and secondary digital strategies and expenditures,” says Jonatan Zinger, search marketing manager of Media 8, a Miami-based digital marketing agency. 

“One thing we can say about the US Hispanics market is that they tend to rely more on search engines than the general market. Overall, Hispanics find the Internet, and online advertising in particular more useful, compared to the general market,” says Zinger. In terms of search engine usage, Hispanics count heavily on search engines to help them to get to know new products and services, research prices, purchase and get customer service. For each of these activities, Hispanics usage rates are higher than those of the general market. According to comScore, 89% of online Hispanics use the internet for searching-out information or products and services. The question naturally follows, “How do I steer them to my website?” One of the major debates is whether to target them with English language or Spanish language keywords.

Do Hispanics Search differently from the general market?

The answer to this question is, “Yes—sometimes.” It all depends on which Hispanics you are talking about. A third-generation, English-dominant Latino will probably search the same as anyone else. However, as you move down the spectrum toward more Spanish-dominant users, searching patterns do change. “One trend we’ve definitely seen among many Hispanic users is the use of mixed Spanish/English search terms,” says Sarah Quinn, account manager of multicultural programs at Denver-based Search Ad Network. “For instance, we’ll see them using terms like “Tomar Cursos Online,” when looking for online courses.

Zinger says that such mixed Spanish/English terms can represent a good opportunity ROI-wise. “There is less competition (and hence lower CPC prices). However, ‘English/Spanish’ terms, or even ‘Spanglish’ terms are only a small part of what should be a successful keyword inventory,” says Zinger.  “In general, the creation of parallel campaigns and creative in both English and Spanish (and sometimes “combined” ones) and the delivery according to the user’s preference (browser settings, search engine settings, etc) can usually get you more significant traffic volume and conversions.” In short, while bilingual terms represent higher ROI, the volume associated with these terms is still relatively minute. 

Sarah Quinn points out another difference in search patterns: “While the general market has gotten pretty used to keyword-based search, a lot of the Hispanic queries come in long-tail—which is to say that instead of a stripped-down keyword-based search, you might see a whole sentence or question,” says Quinn. Instead of, “Mortgages Chicago,” you are likely to see the Spanish equivalent to “Where do I get a mortgage in Chicago?”

English or Spanish: That is the Question…
While it might seem obvious that in order to reach Hispanics online, the best way to go is with Spanish-language keywords, this is not necessarily the case. Since much of the Hispanic online population is younger and more acculturated, a case can be made for targeting Hispanics online with English. The recent “Young Latinos Online” study by ComScore revealed that the majority of the 18.1 million Hispanics online are under 35 years old. Of those surveyed, only 22% prefer Spanish, while 27% list "both" languages as their preference. Meanwhile, 52% said that they prefer English-language content, according to the study.

“The most effective approach, in my view, is to use both Spanish-language and English search terms,” says Sarah Quinn, account manager of multicultural programs at Denver-based Search Ad Network. “Of course, your ability to do so will depend primarily on the size of your budget.
Media 8’s Jonatan Zinger says that an effective Hispanic-targeted search campaign needs to identify the market segment it is going after: “People who immigrated with a solid economic status are more likely to search using English keywords, and to expect English landing pages once they click on an ad. In the case of young Hispanics born in the US, they may even do their searches only in English,” says Zinger. “Language is really something to evaluate case-by-case, considering the campaign’s target and goals. Testing creative and keyword inventory for each language (measuring ROI for each) is also crucial to deciding what works best.”

1.) 54% Google
2.) 53% Yahoo!
3.) 35% Yahoo! Telemundo
4.)
30% Univision.com
5.) 27% MSN or Live.com
6.) 25% Google Español
7.) 21% AOL
8.) 19% MSN Latino
9.) 18% AOL Latino

Source: Hispanic Technographics Consumer Technology and Marketing Phone Survey, Q1 2007.

Note: Respondents answered which of the following all-purpose portals or search engines do you visit at least once a week?

 

Minding the Budget…


While keyword search can drive a lot of business to your site, it can also be very expensive. “Local and geo-modified searches are an efficient way to keep your budget under wraps,” says Sarah Quinn. Geo-modifying is where the search term actually specifies the place. A financial services company in Chicago who is looking to generate local business might buy a geo-modified term like: “Hipotecas en Chicago,” or “Mortgages in Chicago.” That way, they don’t go over-budget on their search campaign by displaying ads to those outside the target area. A geo-targeted approach, as its name suggests, would involve purchasing the word “Hipotecas,” and specifying to the search company that it is only to be displayed to searchers within the Chicago area.

There is also a strong argument to be made for buying Spanish-language search terms from an ROI perspective. Not only are Spanish search terms consistently cheaper than their English-language counterparts, there is also much less competition. A Google search for “cell phones” will return over a hundred sponsored results, whereas a search for “Telefonos Celulares” will return about 1/10th that amount.
Spanish-language keywords are cheaper than English language keywords across the board. Another interesting fact is that accented Spanish-language keywords are priced significantly lower than non-accented keywords. This is due in part to the fact that most U.S. keyboards do not have the button for the accent mark.

Going Mobile…

According to the Hispanic Technographics Consumer Technology and Marketing Phone Survey, Hispanics over-index in ownership of web-enabled cell phones, with 31% of U.S. Hispanics owning such phones, compared with just 22% of the non-Hispanic population.

Many Latinos don’t own personal computers, so their phones serve as their primary access point to the Internet. As such, mobile search presents advertisers a fantastic opportunity to reach Latinos on their handsets.

“We’ve been quite active in mobile search,” says Manuel Mazzanti, head of marketing for Yahoo! Americas. “We realize that searching on the go is completely different than accessing the internet from home.” Mazzanti says that they launched their WAP portal OneSearch over a year ago. “It’s very useful for searching on the go because it gives you everything you want on a single page.” He notes that while mobile search is a growing market in the U.S., it has even more potential in Latin America. “In Latin America, many people don’t have access to PCs or to a broadband connection. But they do have phones. So for many people, their first Yahoo experience is going to be on their cell phones. We take very seriously the need to keep it simple and keep it relevant,” Mazzanti says.

In Latin America, Yahoo’s mobile service is currently available in Mexico, Argentina and Brazil, and will ultimately be available across Latin America.

Media 8’s Jonatan Zinger says that mobile search is still in its initial stages and that the pricing is still not where it needs to be from an ROI stand-point.: “We are in the process of experimenting with mobile search, and we think it’s still on a very initial stage. Within the mobile arena, search will continue to play an ever important role as Google (Yahoo-MSN) and hardware manufacturers continue to expand and enhance the mobile search offering. Keyword management will continue to evolve as new channels like mobile open up. We foresee being able to manage mobile search from the very providers that managed and offer “traditional” SEM spends,” says Zinger, noting that in both the general and US Hispanic markets, mobile opportunities have predominantly been text or display-based. “With that said, apart from the brand messaging challenges (screen size, limited display quality and size), the costs have also been restrictive, particularly considering initiatives focused on ROI.

Top Ten Searches by Hispanics in English

1.      Chat

2.      Sex

3.      Music

4.      hi5

5.      YouTube

6.      MySpace

7.      Horoscope

8.      Maps

9.      Translator

10.  Greeting cards (tarjetas)

Source: Yahoo! Telemundo

 

Usage Trends in Hispanic Search

Spanglish: Tomar cursos online.

Colloquialisms: Cursos x internet

Long Tail Searches: Gen. market a little more familiar with keyword searches.

Financial Services: How can I send____?

Broadly geo-modified Search: Departamentos in Chicago; in EEUU, etc.


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