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Perfect Pitch: Mobile Marketing to Latinos

A recent study showed that 63% of Latinos own a media-capable cell phone compared to 46% of non-Latinos and are 23% more likely to use their cell phones to watch video content according to MTV Networks’ Slivered Screen research.


A recent study showed that 63% of Latinos own a media-capable cell phone compared to 46% of non-Latinos and are 23% more likely to use their cell phones to watch video content according to MTV Networks’ Slivered Screen research. It seems hard to go wrong. Hispanics over-index in mobile content consumption. They are more tolerant, and often more desirous, of advertising targeting them than the general populous. They are also more tech-savvy and active using advanced mobile features. Also, as many do not own personal computers, the mobile phone serves as their primary access point to email and the Internet. For the above reasons and others, the prospect of marketing to Latinos via their mobile phones seems a very promising one. To put things into perspective:

Ø      70% to 75% of Hispanics living in major US cities and 86% of Hispanic teenagers in New York and Los Angeles own mobile phones.

Ø      US Hispanics are younger than any other group, are the most intensive users (12% more than whites) of cutting edge features such as color screens, Bluetooth headsets, and hi-end camera phones

Ø      US Hispanics spend 10% more on their mobile telephone bills than the national average.

Source: Various, Compiled by Portada.

Given the above, it is no surprise that an increasing number of players are tapping into the business of creating mobile content for Spanish-speaking audiences. In Spain, mobile content, including digital music downloads, generates $1.5 billion annually.

Latin America:

According to trade magazine Frecuencia, Latin markets are ripe as competition is still relatively tame, yet content business is already worth well over $100 million this year and growing at a rate of over 200% per year. Mobile applications are multiplying and each Latin market has its own preferences and participants. These are vital indicators to be carefully considered at the time of designing penetration strategies for the different markets.

Editorial Televisa’s Mobile Services Director Eugenio Velasco estimates there are approximately 286 million mobile subscribers in Latin America, which in 2005 made the continent’s mobile content market worth approximately $600 million. “The [market’s] value for 2006 was approximately $800 million, although we don’t have an official figure,” says Velasco. He adds that they expect the market to grow 25% during 2007. “Although mobile subscriptions will probably grow only 10-15% in Latin America, new models and technologies that permit more content download will make the mobile content market grow in a larger scale,” says Velasco. Currently, Televisa Digital’s mobile division distributes content in over 13 countries in Latin America.

With its sights set on this vast market of Latin American mobile phone users, mobile company Playphone has opened offices in Sao Paolo, Brazil, to serve as home base for its expansion efforts. The company has also recently launched a direct-to-consumer site that offers ringtones, wallpaper, games, video and more to the South American markets. According to the company, will be localized in Spanish and Portuguese to accommodate all of their South American clientele.

Chief Executive of Playphone Ron Czerny commented that the series C funding that his company recently received allows them to take this next step in building their brand and opening themselves up to an enormous marketplace.


Batanga, the US Hispanic brand of Hispanic Media, Inc. (HMI) and one of the fastest-growing online publishers in the US Hispanic market, last year signed a deal to offer its Latin music news, reviews and interviews via Barrio Mobile, a content brand of Lagardere Active North America. Barrio Mobile is a Latino mobile content destination, providing cell phone users with unique ringtones (Reggaeton, Latino hip-hop, dance and rock en español), and urban Latino-themed wallpapers. Barrio Mobile is currently distributed in the US through Sprint/Nextel, Boost, Cingular/AT&T and T-Mobile.

Hispanic portal Terra has partnered with ringtone company Jamster to offer its users access to thousands of ringtones. In contrast to the a la carte ringtone purchases that many companies offer, the Jamster package is a subscription service, where users pay $9.99 per month for unlimited ringtone downloads, featuring popular Latino artists.

Making it happen:

MTV Tr3s recently announced the launch of a multi-carrier, bilingual mobile channel for Hispanic youth. The channel’s core components are music downloads, ringtones and video content from some of the hottest names in Latin music.

The new channel is not merely be an additional outlet through which advertisers can reach the desired Latino youth demographic, but a brand-reinforcing platform that further integrates the station’s content into the everyday life of its avid teen acolytes.

While MTV Tr3s does plan to roll out content produced strictly for the mobile platform, the new channel also allows the company to monetize content that would have otherwise ended up on the cutting room floor – or rather in the e-recycle-bin – such as outtakes from its broadcast programs.

Under the hood:

Fresh from a $9 million equity boost from European and Spanish private investors, Cyloop, the former, is on the hunt for the right mobile distribution partner. “Mobile distribution is going to play a big part in our overall operations, so we’re taking special care to find the right company to partner with,” says Demian Bellumio, CEO of Elhood and Hoodiny Inc.

Thus far, much of the company’s efforts have been focused on behind-the-scenes work, like building partnerships with record labels (Warner Bros.) and influential music industry organizations (Billboard).

Bellumio says he hopes to have a mobile distribution partner locked down soon, and to have the company’s mobile site live during Q4 of this year. “We want the mobile site to really deliver with its user interface. So we’re looking into finding the right aggregator who can deliver on a technical level and with whom we can negotiate the right revenue share,” concludes Bellumio. 

“One of the biggest opportunities for magazine publishers in the mobile market is interactivity,” says Televisa’s Eugenio Velasco. “Users can participate in surveys and polls where they contribute with the magazine’s content. Depending on the magazine’s genre, different services may be developed so the users continue to access the magazine’s content via their mobile phones.” He adds that content may even be produced by users and uploaded via their mobile phones. “It is important to have a clear 360 degree strategy which considers the actual print magazine, web and mobile.”

Lo Que Pasa:

“Yes, we’re well aware of the importance of mobile devices to the US Latino audience. We offer some mobile services already, such as a ringtone store and alerts of various kinds sent to your cell. In the next few months, we’ll be introducing many new mobile attractions,” says QuePasa’s executive vice president of sales Eric Rayman.

In short, virtually every content provider operating in the Hispanic market is working with an eye toward mobile distribution. Given the stats surrounding Hispanic mobile phone usage, it would be irresponsible to ignore this platform. As Alejandro Aguilar, deputy editor and publisher of Florida paper Diario las Americas puts it, “It’s an area that is still quite new and one that is becoming further developed every day in the Hispanic and general market. The proliferation of advanced mobile devices like the Iphone is going to contribute significantly to the rapid development of the mobile platform.” When it comes to the rolling out of mobile-accessible content for Hispanic audiences, it is certainly a question of when rather than if, and the answer to that question looks to be: “soon.”

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