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Tapping into the $20 billion Latino Youth Market

Currently, the estimated 6.3 million Latinos age 10-19 represent 20 percent of the entire U.S. teen population and spend about $20 billion a year.


Currently, the estimated 6.3 million Latinos age 10-19 represent 20 percent of the entire U.S. teen population and spend about $20 billion a year. (AHAA) ad spending on social network sites to reach $865 million in 2007 – over double the $350 million spent in 2006.

According to the Association of Hispanic Advertising Agencies (AHAA) the estimated 6.3 million Latinos age 10-19 represent 20% of the entire U.S. youth population and spend about $20 billion a year. If one extends the age parameters to include twenty-somethings those figures skyrocket even higher. Latino Youth also represent a huge market for the media and technology sectors.

Recent data released by Simmons Research for Yahoo! Telemundo showed that Hispanic youth spend over 32 hours of their waking day engaged in media and technology, whether that be surfing the internet, watching TV, talking on their cell phones, or as is frequently the case, doing all at the same time, which accounts for the seemingly impossible amount of time recorded for such activities.

1 Who Are They?

In line with their tech-savvy, Hispanic youth are also very connected online. Social networking sites are hugely popular places for them to chat, share music, flirt, etc. Urban themes are prevalent in the culture, as reflected by the popularity of reggaeton and hip-hop. This urban focus is in turn reflected by the advertising campaigns targeting this group, which are discussed in detail later in this article.

However, Latino youth are not a monolithic and separate group from their non-hispanic peers —not by a long shot. They are interwoven into the very fabric of the larger youth culture in the U.S. and are represented in every sub-group imaginable. They identify with the culture of their parents from their at-home experience where Spanish is primarily spoken, while their time online and at school lends itself to mainstream tendencies and English-language interaction. As such, the Latino youth experience is bi-cultural at the core.

2 What Media Do They Consume?


Hispanic youth are spending more time online. According to Natasha Funk, sales research manager for Terra Networks, between December of 2005 and December 2006, “the overall US Hispanic online audience grew 6.5 times as much as the general market, reaching 16,509,000 unique visitors online during December 2006, a 13% increase from December 2005.” Ms. Funk also points out that Hispanic youth aged 16-25 surf the Internet, play games, conduct research and communicate via email or IM at a higher rate than Hispanics overall, meaning that Hispanic Youth are accounting for the lion’s share of this impressive online growth.

Another forum on the minds of all marketers looking to reach Hispanic youth is the social networking site. It is here that young people interact most openly and passionately about music, style, romance and their myriad likes and dislikes.

If there is any doubt about advertisers’ intentions to establish themselves on the scene, one need only look to Emarketer’s recent study that predicts ad spending on social network sites to reach $865 million in 2007 – over double the $350 million spent in 2006. and will exceed $2 billion in 2010.

Latin Thre3’s Matias Perel says that his agency is concentrating more of its efforts and future plans in the social networking realm. “We look at this sort of advertising as dropping a seed and hoping for it to bare fruit. The worst thing one can make with social network advertising is trying to control it. It’s a dynamic and fluid environment whose terms are set primarily by the users. When you start trying to work against that, you’re asking for trouble.”


Of course, for all of the talk- and hype, frankly – about technology obsessed, connected Hispanic teenagers, the truth is that they like to flip through a magazine as much as anyone else. This reality makes print a viable medium to reach this market, provided one chooses the right publication.

Apart from its online activities, Batanga is also quite active producing print content for Hispanic youth. In November of last year, it acquired LatCom Communications, which publishes two publications for this audience: Latino U. (Circ. 200,000, bimonthly, English) and Latino High (100,000, 2X/year, English). The magazines are distributed directly to students through branded racks, and are core components of Batanga’s most recent brand extension Batanga LIVE/Publishing.

Magazines like Tu Ciudad out of Los Angeles and Latina are also popular among Latino youth because of their edgy, more acculturated viewpoints that this group can identify with. Their content is primarily English-language with splashes of Espanol thrown in for flavor.

General market newspaper supplements like the Daily NewsViva New York and the New York Post’s NY Tempo are popular among Hispanic youth because of their focus toward younger, more acculturated Hispanics who are looking to see what’s happening around town. These supplements devote significant energy toward their entertainment guides, which are of utmost interest to young readers.


While Hispanic teens’ affinity for cutting edge technological features might be a bit played up by those who stand to profit from it, it is certainly not all hype. A fastemerging platform on which to reach them is mobile. 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.

Responding to such compelling data, MTV Tr3s launched a multi-carrier, bilingual mobile channel for Hispanic youth in March. The channel’s core components will be music downloads, ringtones and video content from some of the hottest names in Latin music, including Nelly Furtado, Luis Fonsi, and Paulina Rubio.

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

MTV Tr3s also recently launched a music video program called “Texto” where viewers can send “shout-outs” to their friends and relatives by texting their messages to the show. Their messages are then read and displayed on-air. All of this activity has advertisers scrambling to capture as much of this demographic’s attention as it can. The only question is how best to do it.

3 Planning and Buying Media Targeting Hispanic Youth


One technique that has proven successful in marketing to younger Hispanics is that of creating a micro-site for a given product. Micro-sites give marketers the ability to target a specific group with targeted messaging without changing the public face of the company. Oftentimes, free ringtones, music downloads and games are offered as incentives for visitors to check out the site.

Jose Cuervo recently launched its second annual Cuervoton campaign, a multi-faceted Reggaeton-rooted effort that combines online video pop-up ads with a sleek micro-site. The thrust of the campaign is the search for the next big Reggaeton group.

Performers are invited to upload their original material to the site for consideration by the panel of judges, while regular users can browse the uploaded material and download MP3s. The winning performer or group will walk away with a recording contract from BMI records.

The video pop-up that appears on Batanga’s lifestyle channel, among other places, is a high-energy clip that features some live footage of Reggaeton performers doing their act in front of a lively audience. The tagline for the campaign is: “It’s your shot, make it count,” which refers simultaneously to the contest and to the method that many consume the potent liquor.

Like the music that it celebrates, the Cuervoton site has a very urban feel, depicting images of street-life such as low-rider cars, big boom-box radios, street-signs, and trickedout bicycles. The messaging is done largely in Spanglish, mirroring the way many Latino youth communicate. The Cuervoton campaign itself is billed as “The search for la nueva generacion of Latinos in urban musica.”

The campaign has various partners including the BMI record label, Gibson Guitars and LifeBeat, a music industry AIDS-awareness organization. It also adds a bit of street-credibility by partnering with popular Latin hip-hop magazine Bridgez and custom lowrider bike company Jose Cuervo’s agency of record is WingLatino.


Recently Reebok did a campaign with Miami-based Latinthre3 to promote their brand with Hispanic youth. “Given that Hispanic youth and young adults are spending more time online and interacting with their friends digitally, it was an easy decision to target them online,” says Matias Perel, CEO of Latinthre3. After considering how important music is to the target, the agency decided to pair that with the sports focus of the product and built a music-driven website that would appeal to active Latino youth. The result was a micro-site called BArrio RBK.

The site, much like the Cuervoton site is very urban-themed and has a strong infusion of Reggaeton to complement the messaging. It is also designed to appeal to a variety of interests. For the soccer enthusiasts, Reebok chose Osvaldo Sanchez, goalie of the Mexican soccer team Las Chivas to be part of the campaign.

For those who like to dance, there is a game where one matches dance moves to the music. Another section is called the beat mixer, where visitors can mix there own music and, have other people vote on it. For Hip-hop enthusiasts there is a section called RBK Music where users can listen to music by some of their favorite rappers and view product lines for those rappers, like hugely popular 50 Cent’s G-Unit line of footwear.

“What is bringing them to the brand is the engagement,” say Matias Perel. “We try to meet the target on his or her own terms, whether that is through music, through sports or through things like video games. In essence, we are creating the community around the brand and the brand around the community. It’s like having a live focus group that we listen to all the time.”

And it is this highly-interactive and communicative approach that seems to be en vogue with marketers looking to reach Latino youth today. As president of MTV Networks, Cristina Norman said at the 7th annual Horowitz conference, the key to MTV’s burgeoning web traffic is its constant communication with users about their content demands. “There’s no such thing as having too much feedback from your audience.” says Norman.

However, if a company is going to open the door to such feedback, they need to be prepared to listen. “If you ask for feedback and then ignore it, you end up in a worse position in the consumer’s mind than if you had never asked for it at all,” says Norman.


It is in this spirit that MTV launched, an extension of the hugely successful general market show TRL, where viewers can vote for their favorite hit songs and have them played live on the air. According to Ms. Norman, one of the most important things about marketing to Latinos is production quality. “One of the things we hear most often in the way of feedback form our viewers is that they want the same quality production as they see in the general market websites and TV shows, but directed at them.”

A basic tenet of mass-marketing is to get one’s message out to the most people possible, in the hopes that many will respond. This is the appeal of advertising on wildly popular shows like American Idol. The Hispanic market has its own American Idol in Univision’s “Objetivo Fama,” which has been extended onto the online platform with The premise of the show is the same as its general market counterpart – young and relatively attractive performers going for their shot at stardom. The main advertisers on the show’s website are McDonald’s, Verizon, and Pontiac —all brands that seek to maintain an edgy image and rely upon the youth market for their overall economic “bienestar”— or well-being.


Social networking site QuePasa, which recently signed up its one millionth registered user, understands that the lifeblood of its business is its ever-growing user base. Its latest campaign to appease and appeal to that base is a beauty contest called “Faces of QuePasa,” which was orchestrated in conjunction with Ford Models. QuePasa users were asked to vote on the 24 most beautiful women on QuePasa out of 3000 entrants. Users chose two finalists and Ford Models then selected two finalists to be flown to their headquarters for a chance to be signed as working models.

According to Michele Azan, VP of sales for Terra Networks, the Navy has been running advertising with the website for six consecutive years: “Their demo target is high school students and up. On Terra, they have focused on sponsoring Terra Radio, our reality program extensions, and a heavy rotation in Music and Entertainment. They also target this demo through our community services sections, such as foros, chats, blogs and fotologs,” says Azan.

David Chitel, CEO of the new division, says that among the most active advertisers in these magazines are the separate branches of the military. He says that the Navy, the Army, the National Guard and the Marines all advertise. Most of the advertising is done in English to appeal to the acculturated 2nd and 3rd generation Hispanics they mostly target, although the Marines run their ad in Spanish, and the Navy has a website called that is all Spanish-language. The themes of the advertisements vary from the adventure-related aspects of military service to the financial assistance one receives toward their education in exchange for his/her service.


Looking back at all of the data and trends, a few things become clear. Firstly, when it comes to targeting Hispanic youth, online is where it's at. The best evidence for this is Forrester's research showing that for the first time ever, Hispanic youth are spending more time online than they are watching TV, marking a significant shift in media consumption patterns. In terms of content preferences, the urban influence cannot be denied, particularly when it comes to the saturation of reggaeton's rhythms on music portals and social network pages. Social networks continue to play a vital role in facilitating interaction among younger Hispanics. Print remains a viable outlet, particularly in targeting Hispanic youth with free publications on campus, but online is where the action is. And increasingly we witness the further integration of mobile platforms to supplement and reinforce the presence of broadcast and digital properties. The key is relevant, targeted messaging and advertisers are definitely catching on.

Multi-faceted campaigns that entice this market with interactive content, contests, and ringtones are doing more than simply moving product: They're making themselves vital to young Latinos' everyday experiences, and establishing strong footholds for their brands in the process.

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