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Can good research increase Hispanic ad budgets? [2-A]

In early 2006, the AHAA (Association of Hisapanic Advertising Agencies) announced plans to partner with the MPA (Magazine Publishers of America) and a group of Hispanic publishers to collaboratively put together the first comprehensive Hispanic readership study with a large enough sample to gather good data on even smaller circulation Hispanic publications. A year later, an overall study has not been conducted.


In early 2006, the AHAA (Association of Hisapanic Advertising Agencies) announced plans to partner with the MPA (Magazine Publishers of America) and a group of Hispanic publishers to collaboratively put together the first comprehensive Hispanic readership study with a large enough sample to gather good data on even smaller circulation Hispanic publications. A year later, an overall study has not been conducted. 

According to AHAA President Carl Kravetz, the MPA decided to do its own study covering only magazines and the AHAA did not have the support to carry the project out on its own. Francisco Framil, Marketing Manager at Publicitas LHM, a national sales team for leading Hispanic newspapers, was a big proponent of the effort. He’s not sure exactly why it fell apart. “Maybe they couldn’t come to an agreement on how to do the study and who should do it. There are a lot of players with different interests who have to come to an agreement for this to happen,” says Framil. He says a comprehensive independent study of Hispanic print media consumption is still a big gap in existing data. “The only way we can really grow budgets is to have accurate data on readership,” says Framil.

Dave Gusse, Vice President of Strategic Print Marketing for Newspaper Services of America (NSA), has also asked the AHAA for research on how Hispanic consumers actually use print ads. “Everyone has an opinion on this, but no one has any real data on how Hispanics use different media,” says Gusse. The NSA has done some of their own research, but nothing on a large scale.

Magazines go it alone

Wayne Eadie, Vice President of Research at the MPA agrees on the need for good research on print, but believes that each media needs to get together to do their own study. “The AHAA was going to work with us, but their funding was mostly from newspapers and when they found out that we were only going to look at magazines they dropped out,” says Eadie, who says that it would have been much more involved and costly if they had tried to include newspapers.

Synovate conducted the research for MPA and the 9 Hispanic publishers and organizations who sponsored the study, now known as the Hispanic Magazine Coalition. They include AARP Segunda Juventud, Hogar Latino LLC, Editorial Televisa, Latina, The National Association of Hispanic Publications, Meredith Hispanic Ventures, Muevelo (Muevelo was part of the study, but has since been discontinued), People en Español, and Selecciones.

The MPA had originally planned to do a media mix model case study to try to show the effect of increasing print budgets on ROI, but couldn’t find a company who would or could participate. “We wanted to find someone who was doing mainly TV with just a little bit of print so that we could measure the result of shifting more of their budget to magazines,” says Eadie. But companies either weren’t willing to be put under that kind of scrutiny or weren’t doing any Hispanic print advertising at all. So the MPA changed course and decided to do a readership study that would give advertisers a better understanding of how Hispanic consumers interact with their magazines.

The Hispanic Magazine Coalition research study was released late last year. It remains to be seen if and how much it will help magazine publishers increase ad sales. Eadie says that the MPA’s study doesn’t just look at whether Hispanics read magazines. “We looked at how Hispanics actually interact with magazines and how that’s different from general market engagement,” says Eadie, explaining that the findings that have been presented so far have been pretty watered down because the hard-hitting data might have made one publication stand out over another. “The real test will come once the different publications dig down and customize the data for their own purposes,” says Eadie.

Mariana Toledo, Marketing Director at Editorial Televisa, is beginning to do just that. “We’ve been getting 1 to 2 requests per week from agencies who want more detailed information,” says Toledo. “But I think there’s a lot more we can do with it.” Toledo said that although a lot of the basic information is not new, the data has never been gathered by a group of publications through a reputable research company, or included the general market comparison. Toledo says Editorial Televisa will use the information to approach general market advertisers who have not yet entered the Hispanic space.

Looking for one good company

The MPA is ready to get started on the ROI case study, says Eadie. He’s hoping that once companies see the magazine readership research, they will be more willing to participate. “We need one company to agree to work with us,” says Eadie. “We’re not saying magazines instead of TV, we just want to look at what happens if a company shifts a small amount of its TV budget to other media, including magazines.”

The limits of syndicated research

As more companies focus attention on the Hispanic market, demand for research has increased and new companies and products are being developed to fill this need. But increased demand for information on the Hispanic market has not translated into increased print budgets. While national marketing firms are getting more sophisticated at gathering all kinds of specific information on Hispanic consumers in every corner of the U.S., their ability to measure print consumption of Hispanic publications is limited because sample sizes are not large enough to produce accurate data.

Advertisers, media buyers and publishers say they use syndicated research products and national studies because they are less expensive than custom research, provide baseline data and evidence of the size and power of the Hispanic market. “The problem is that everyone has access to syndicated research, so it doesn’t give you much of a competitive advantage,” says Elena Marroquin, Vice President and Director of Strategy for Tapestry. “For that marketers need to do qualitative research.”

Primary, custom research

Demand for custom research on the Hispanic market is increasing, according to Miguel Martinez-Baco, Vice President of Hispanic Services at MRSI (Market Research Services, Inc.). He says that in the 7 years that he has been with the company, business generated by Hispanic research requests has grown from zero to 15% of their overall business. MRSI’s Hispanic business comes primarly from existing general market clients who want to expand into the Hispanic space. Most are in the consumer-packaged goods category. Martinez-Baco says MRSI developed Enfoque—a structure to help companies undertand and develop a Hispanic research initiative—in response to client demand. “We had a lot of clients say that they didn’t know where to begin with the Hispanic market,” says Martinez-Baco.

Tapestry’s Elena Marroquin says primary research is needed not only to measure the effectiveness of the advertising message, but also to look at the context in which consumers interact with media and the relationships between different media. That’s just starting to happen in the general market. Last year, Interpublic launched the Consumer Experience Practice (CEP), which brought together a group of hot shot researchers with the goal of developing new methodologies and tools to help Interpublic agencies and clients understand how technology is changing the way consumers interact with media. This kind of research could provide the most dynamic and accurate data on consumer behavior, but it is also costly and labor intensive. After 10 months the CEP was disbanded, though it appears that Interpublic will continue to invest in cutting-edge research.

Online research takes-off

Natasha Funk Research Manager at Terra Networks says she’s seen online research take off in the last couple of years. Terra has a variety of research capabilities. One is ComScore Media Metrix, which Terra uses to provide Hispanic audience measurement that Funk says is on par with Nielson in terms of segmentation capabilities. Terra also launched a behavioral targeting feature for advertisers last year. “We can determine the interests of our users and then target them only with ads that match their interests,” says Funk.

Terra editors conduct on-going research for internal use. “We are continually doing surveys and polls and monitoring discussions to get information about our visitors,” says Funk. “What the editors learn directly influences the content they produce.”

Francisco Framil of Publicitas LHM says that this level of interactivity is changing the face of media and market research. “In order for print publications to survive they will have to find ways to improve dialogue with readers.” Framil sees the internet and social networking sites as a way to gather live, on-going information on consumer behavior and experiences.

That’s exactly what some companies are beginning to do—publish their own social networking sites as a way to conduct on-going, real time market research on specific demographics. P&G launched the women-oriented site Capessa this year in order to learn more about the interests and needs of women. Johnson and Johnson also announced plans to launch their own blog.

Exactly how the interactivity and immediacy of the internet will change the publishing industry and market research remains to be seen. “No one knows exactly what shape things are going to take,” says Francisco Framil, Publicitas LHM.

Syndicated and National market research: What’s out there and what’s new?


Synovate increased its Hispanic panel to 150,000 last year in response to the overwhelming demand they have gotten since they launched telephone omnibuses in 2004. Panel members participate in the telephone surveys that Synovate offers in any one of the top 10 Hispanic DMAs or on a national scale.


Simmons has teamed with TGI (Target Group Index), a global network of single-source market research surveys, and a consortium of other companies to develop a product that can compare consumer behavior and psychographics across borders. “We are still in the software development stage,” said Martin Vega, Multicultural Brand Manager at Simmons. Vega says telecom, remittance and travel companies are increasingly operating across borders and want this kind of information. The product is expected to be ready by mid-2007.


Simmons, in an ongoing effort to increase survey response rates, found it needed to develop its own Hispanic marketing campaign. “Some Hispanics are unfamiliar with the idea of a consumer survey,” says Dr. Max Kliger, Chief Behavioral Scientist for Simmons. “So we produce brochures to explain how the survey works and how respondents can use it to get their voices heard.” Kliger says response rates have gotten better as a result of this program.


Claritas, a national demographic and market segmentation firm owned by VNU, doesn’t divide their sample by ethnicity, but instead groups residents of zip-codes into clusters based on socio-economic status and lifestyle. Companies get a snap-shot of the interests, preferences and purchasing behavior of consumers in each grouping. Claritas has come under criticism for racial and ethnic stereotyping that characterizes cluster names and descriptions.

by Carrie Barnes

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