The proliferation of Spanish-language websites is a reality for everyone involved in online media and in the corporate marketing world. Media properties need to get enough content online to draw readers, while advertisers need to reach Hispanics via online media. “The Spanish-dominant portion of the Internet is growing the most and we recognize the value of the online component,” says Jim Lucero, Head of Multicultural at San Antonio-based advertising agency Camelot Communications.
Every day, we see more Spanish-language websites getting into the mix. Those that are already present are stepping-up site features, while those sites that have been English-language only are making moves to get their Websites adapted for the Hispanic market.
Tortillas Guerrero – Mission Foods' Hispanic brand, its English brand being Mission Tortillas – just launched a Spanish-language website in January: Camelot is Mission Foods’ agency.
Another company looking to develop their Spanish-language presence online is Vermont Teddy Bear Factory. Tom Funk, E-Commerce Manager for Vermont Teddy Bear, said in a recent conference that one of the main pillars of the company's strategy to increase revenue is to offer a Spanish-language version of the site to support Hispanic marketing efforts and Spanish speaking customers.
With over 400 million Spanish speakers worldwide, and the U.S. Hispanic population measured at around 45 million alone, there is an enormous market for Spanish-language websites, and corporations know it.
Ø There are almost 82,000,000 Spanish-speaking people using the Internet, accounting for 7.5 % of all the Internet users in the world.
Ø Out of the estimated 437.5 million Spanish-speakers worldwide, 18.7 % use the Internet.
Ø The number of Spanish Speaking Internet Users has grown 231.1 % in the last six years (2000-2006).
Many major companies do have websites en español, and those that don’t are quickly developing them, making the business of website adaptation quite a busy – and profitable – one. Sergio Aprestan, Sales Manager for website adaptation company Transperfect says that most large companies of 2,000 or more employees do have a Spanish-language website. Will Fleming, CEO of website adaptation company MotionPoint emphasizes how much further there is to go: “Penetration is still relatively low. I read a Forrester study that cited just 19% of Fortune 100 companies as having any Spanish-language component at all. Many still have none, and some have just a trivial amount.”
As the chart box on page 14 indicates, Spanish-speaking internet users fall just behind Japanese-speaking users in number. However, the number of Spanish-speaking users is growing at a rate almost three times that of the Japanese. This means that soon Spanish will follow only English and Chinese as the most commonly-used language on the web. That alone should erase any reservations one might have about developing a Spanish-language site.
TOP FIVE LANGUAGES
% of all
Source: Internet World Stats. ©Copyright 2006
Broadband and its implications…
According to the third annual AOL/Roper U.S. Hispanic Cyber Study (2005), U.S. Hispanics are rapidly adopting broadband, with approximately 50% accessing the internet over high-speed internet connections from home. This is important, as broadband access facilitates a more sophisticated browsing, and advertising, experience.
Spanish-language websites and their advertisers are taking advantage of this steady shift toward broadband by streaming high quality video ads. Rafael Urbina, Batanga’s CEO, says that broadband video advertising is optimal in reaching Hispanic youth. He says that it works well with the language issue because many younger Hispanics can speak Spanish, but aren’t fully comfortable reading Spanish copy. As a result, static Spanish-language banners can miss the mark. However, with video, advertisers are free to use the Spanish that reminds the consumer of family and friends, and add some English to the mix.
An added benefit of running broadband video ads is that, in many cases, the advertisers already have the material from TV campaigns. All they need to do is re-format it for the digital marketplace through a process known as “repurposing.” Typically this means paring-down a 30-second spot to just fifteen seconds, as the online audience has less patience for sitting through ads online than they do watching them on TV. The ads are placed either pre-roll or post-roll, meaning before or after the content the user has chosen to view or listen to. The video ad will be augmented by a couple of synchronized banners. According to Urbina, these types of ads have been an unmitigated success.
Increasingly, large Spanish-language sites like AOL Latino, MSN Latino, Yahoo! en Español, and others are relying on newswires to fill their content needs. “These larger websites need immediate information delivered directly to their channels. Most of this content is accompanied by a photo or other rich media, such as audio or video features,” says Rafael Carranza, sub-director of sales North America for Efe.
And newspaper websites aren't being left out if the action either. For many newspapers, the website is a relationship-building forum, where they can engage their readers with interactive features and online promotions, as well as with news from a user's home country. Since many smaller publications' websites do not have their own editorial teams, the newswire-provided content can help to serve this purpose.
While a paper's staff might focus more on local content through the print product, a website featuring recent newswire content from a host of Latin countries can connect with its readers on a different level. “Many U.S. Hispanics want to be connected with what is going on in Latin America, so Internet is a very accessible option to know what is going on a daily basis in their country,” says Carranza.
One of the advantages that online media offers is accountability. If you are a prospective advertiser considering a website to advertise in, you can get highly specific information about how many people visit that website, what their interests are, etc. Increasingly, advertisers, particularly in the Hispanic and Latin American market-space, are asking the question: “Where are these visitors located?” in an effort to more effectively target them. And as these capabilities become more sophisticated, websites are now able to tell advertisers how many people from a particular country are visiting their website.
For example, an Argentine living in the U.S. might go to Clarin.com to get caught up on news from home. The website can detect that the IP address originates in the U.S. and serve that visitor an ad for an airline company advertising discount flights to Argentina. In fact, Clarin is an interesting case, because about 25% of its web-traffic originates from outside of Argentina.
A number of companies, including Delta, American Airlines, and JumpTV are interested in tapping the Dominican market, given the large number of Dominicans now residing in the U.S. Although the main Dominican newspaper, El Listin Diario, does have a website, it does not yet have the geo-targeting capabilities advertisers would like to see. There are apparently discussions underway between some of these airlines and El Listin Diario about developing these capabilities.
Todofut.com, an online retailer of soccer gear is experiencing success targeting online newspaper markets throughout Latin America with country-specific sports apparel. The company's strategy is simple: take out ad-space in a given country's leading newspaper, and advertise that country's soccer jersey at reasonable prices, e.g., advertise Argentine jerseys in Ole, Brazilian jerseys in O Globo, etc.
The Road Ahead…
While it is true that English is still clearly the dominant language online, Spanish-language websites are quickly closing the gap and offering many of the same premium site features and advertising methods being employed by the top English-language sites. In addition, Spanish-dominant internet users account for the majority of growth that the U.S. Hispanic Online community is experiencing. And, as mentioned earlier, website localization is now more affordable and quickly implemented than ever before. As a result, look for Spanish-language websites to improve content quality and technical sophistication; advertisers to take advantage of cutting edge methods like geo-targeting; and more general market companies to penetrate the Hispanic online marketplace with Spanish-language web destinations.