Today’s Teens, Tomorrow’s Market share

Currently, the estimated 6.3 million Latinos ages 10-19 represent 20 percent of the entire U.S. teen population and spend about $20 billion a year, according to the Association of Hispanic Advertising Agencies (AHAA). The AHAA also reports that Hispanic advertising is now a $4 billion industry, growing four times faster than any other sector of advertising. If Hispanic teens represent 20 percent of the Hispanic market, ad-spending should be about $800 million. Benito Martinez, president of Accent Marketing, a multicultural advertising and PR agency based in Miami, says current ad-spending does not reflect the size of the market. “One reason is that most advertisers are targeting all teens with the same ads,” explains Martinez. “The other is that marketers are still trying to figure out how to best target this audience.”

Francisco Framil, sales and marketing manager for Publicitas LHM, says there are really only a handful of companies—Coca-cola, Reebok, Pepsi, McDonalds—specifically targeting Hispanic teens. Framil says the ad categories most interested in Hispanic teens are automotive, food and beverages, cosmetics, feminine hygiene and the military.

Hispanic teens are wired

Framil argues that digital and print media are especially powerful when it comes to reaching the teen market. “Print and digital media aren’t constrained by time, meaning that users can access them at their convenience,” explains Framil. “That’s not the case with T.V., where viewers have to change their schedule to watch a particular show.” Framil attributes declining teen TV-audiences to this static timeframe which they are subject to. “Teens have much more irregular schedules and are more likely to use media that is available when they want it.”

Matias Perel, CEO of Latin 3, a Miami based Hispanic Interactive Agency, agrees: “What are Hispanic teens doing when they get home from school? They’re on the internet, downloading music, chatting with friends, typically all at the same time,” says Perel. “If you want to reach this market, the internet is the most cost effective way to do it.” Cheskin’s “Nuestro Futuro: Hispanic Teens in Their Own Words,” a video profile of 30 bicultural teens ages 13 to 19, lends support to Perel’s argument. “All of the teens we spoke to had internet access, most had personal computers in their rooms,” says Cheskin Executive Vice President Stephen Palacios, who adds that almost everyone was familiar with, the social-networking site that is highly popular among teens.

Perel says that the best way to reach Hispanic teens is by using the internet to build communities around brands and brands around communities.

The popularity of social networking sites (SNS) like, and are leading more and more companies to build communities online. Que Pasa launched a bilingual social networking site in April and Batanga has plans to launch its own SNS in the near future.

“They all named their local Spanish-language reggaeton station as their favorite. They also go on the internet for music.”

Natasha Funk, Director of Market Research for Terra, says blogs are also very popular with Hispanic teens. “Hispanics are blogging more than their general market counterparts,” says Funk. According to ComScore Media Metrix May 2006 report, 41.4% of all 12-17 year olds in the general market use content within the Blog category, compared with 45.2% of U.S. Hispanics teens. In terms of marketing opportunities, Perel points out that online  communities, including social networking sites, chat rooms and blogs, all lend themselves to viral marketing, which is particularly effective with Hispanics because of their reliance on friends when it comes to making decisions.

Music is key

It comes as no surprise that the bicultural Hispanic teens interviewed for Cheskin’s video profile were all heavy music consumers. “They all named their local Spanish-language reggaeton station as their favorite. They also go on the internet for music,” says Palacios. In order to capture more of the Hispanic youth market, Latin music websites like Batanga have been building features into their sites that allow users to transfer music and other content to SNS sites like MySpace. They have also designed a My Radio feature which gives users the editorial tools to create their own radio stations.

Troy McConnell, Founder and CEO of Batanga, says these features are largely responsible for Batanga’s growth in popularity among Hispanic teens. “The number of Hispanic teen users has increased 10 to 15 percent in the past year,” says McConnell. “We’ve basically given them control over how they use the content on our site.” McConnell says teens are more interested in personalizing and creating their own pages, mostly because they have the time to do it.

By allowing users to migrate Batanga content to other sites, the number of links to Batanga’s website has increased from 200 to almost 40,000 in the last 12 months.

Batanga creates custom ads for most of their clients. “We talk to advertisers and figure out what they want and how we can connect that with what our users are looking for.” McConnell says that the biggest obstacle to gaining advertising is the fact that Batanga is not yet a well-known name. To reverse that, Batanga plans to launch a major consumer marketing campaign to drive users to the site. “We plan to spend $3-4 million on consumer marketing this year,” says McConnell. All of the advertising will be done online. McConnell declined to give specific details.

Teen magazines still have their place

When it comes to print publications written specifically for Hispanic teens, there are only a handful. Some of the early efforts to target this market, including Super Onda and LatinGirl, haven’t lasted. Even in the general market, teen pubs are shifting focus from print publications to digital media. Elle girl (Hachette Filipacchi Media U.S.) was recently shut down, choosing to focus more effort online and in wireless.

Laura Donnelly, publisher of Latinitas, a web-based girls’ empowerment publication, says that many publishers expect too much, too soon. “I think LatinGirl would have made it if they had kept going a little longer,” says Donnelly. “The numbers that these publications need to be considered a success are just too high and they’re not given time to really grow their audiences.”

David Chitel, CEO of LatCom Communications, says that while there is a trend toward more investment online, traditional print will always have its place. LatCom publishes Latino U. college and high school editions, the I-Caramba website, and produces the Latino College Tour. Latino U. – High School Edition targets Latinas ages 13-17. The free, 100,000 controlled circulation publication is distributed nationally at high density Hispanic schools. Chitel says both print publications have been growing steadily. “There are 3 million Latinos in high school and 3 million in college. We plan to continue to scaling the publications to really reach these underserved audiences,” explains Chitel. LatCom is a multi-media company offering advertisers packages which can include a combination of events, print, custom websites, e-blasts and merchandising opportunities.


Quince Girl (Quince Media, circ. 300,000) a more narrowly focused teen magazine, targets Latina girls who are planning quinceañera celebrations. The annual magazine, published by Quince Media, launched as a website last November. The print edition debuted in March 2006.

Other magazines, including Editorial Televisa’s Furia and Cosmopolitan en Español, target an audience that includes many teenagers. Earlier this year Cosmopolitan en Español announced an alliance with Activate Beauty and Roselyn Sanchez, and the launch of a new subscription campaign. “We are thrilled to have Activate Beauty and Roselyn Sanchez on board with Cosmopolitan en Español,” said Marines Duarte, Publisher of Cosmopolitan en Español. “Our magazine is the essential guide for Hispanic women 18-34 and knowing that a product such as Activate Beauty and a distinguished figure such as Roselyn Sanchez are in support of our brand reinforces the loyalty and commitment we will always have for Hispanic women.”

Recent launches of the teen publications seem to be meeting a content hungry audience: According to a survey published last year by New York based Advertising Agency WingLatino, when survey participants where asked about the most difficult sector to reach of the Hispanic population, 18,1% of the studies participants named “Teenagers”, English-dominant (16.1%), Spanish-dominant (14.3%) and “Men 18-34” (13.7%) are also considered Hispanic population sectors that are underserved by magazines. Alejandro Clabiorne, Director of Media at WingLatino, noted that research his agency conducted shows that there is a growing need among Hispanics, including teenagers, for culturally relevant content in English. 81% of the respondents to his survey noted that they read English-language magazines because they have more choices. 65% prefer ads that include both Spanish and English. Have there been strong efforts by newspapers to target Hispanic teens?

Grassroots, mission-oriented magazines have
staying power in print

Other publications targeting Hispanic teens have taken a more empowerment-oriented approach. Publications like Teen Voices and Latinitas are both non-profits written for and by teens. Teen Voices’ print edition is a multi-cultural, national magazine with a circulation of 50,000, distributed through hospitals, clinics, schools, libraries and community centers. The website gets about 7.6 million visitors per year. Teen Voices is supported by membership fees, institutional advertisers and grants.

Marketing Director Tori Costa says the magazine is looking to develop new relationships with advertisers who are in line with their mission. “We don’t accept any ads that are exploitative to teen girls, which excludes a lot of the usual suspects, like fashion, cosmetics or other beauty related products.” Costa says most of their current advertisers are institutions and organizations. As with other publications, Teen Voices is focusing more of their efforts on web-based projects. The print publication, previously a quarterly, now comes out just twice a year. “The kids are really comfortable online and it’s an easier, more costeffective way to publish,” explains Costa.

Latinitas, a monthly web-based publication and education project, focuses on empowering Latina girls and young women. The bilingual publication with teen and pre-teen editions contains content written by teen journalists and professionals. Latinitas has been funded mostly through grants by companies like Dell and IBM, and relies heavily on volunteer journalists, translators and administrative staff.


Latinitas is currently looking to form partnerships with advertisers, although nothing has been settled yet. Co-founders Laura Donnelly and Alicia Rascon say monthly visitors have grown steadily over the past 3 years, going from about 300 unique users per month to 9-10,000. “That’s without any marketing,” says Donnelly. “This year we plan to relaunch the publication with a national PR campaign.”

Donnelly says about 75 percent of Latinitas readers come from U.S. cities all over the country, the other 25 percent are international. Latinitas plans to launch a quarterly print publication in early 2007. Contrary to what many research studies have shown, Donnelly has found that many of the girls Latinitas works with don’t have access to computers. “Our audience reads magazines,” explains Donnelly. “Many don’t have internet access or if they do it’s dial-up.”

Teen boys read too

Lateen Magazine, another empowerment/education oriented teen pub, debuted in July. The new magazine targets 2nd and 3rd generation Hispanic teens, both male and female. Armando Avila, Vice President of Publishing, says the Boulder, Colorado based magazine hopes to breakdown the stereotype that teenage boys don’t read. “Content alternates back and forth between stories targeting male and female readers,” explains Avila. The magazine was launched by Ayal Korzak, a high school teacher looking for good reading material for his Hispanic students. The lack of print publications targeting Hispanic teens inspired him to create Lateen Magazine. The publication will have an initial circulation of 7,000, which will increase to 20,000 by the second issue.

Newspapers look to attract teen readers

Diane Hockenberry, Director of Audience Development for the Newspaper Association of America says that so far she hasn’t seen a really strong effort by existing newspapers to target Hispanic teens. “A few of the papers are targeting teens through the adult paper with teen pages or articles on teen issues,” says Hockenberry.

Julio Esparza, Ad Manager at Que Onda! (Que Onda, circ. 165,000, weekly, bilingual) which targets readers 18 and up, says the paper occasionally includes articles that are more relevant to the lives of teens, but at this point doesn’t have plans to reach out further.

Díario La Estrella (Knight Ridder, circ. 32,950, daily, Spanish) features a teen page once a week.
“We distribute
the paper at schools, so we wanted to include something that targets that market,”
explains Díario’s Executive
Director Juan Antonio Ramos. Although he said it was too soon to get into the specifics, Ramos says Díario La Estrella is working on developing something online targeting teens.  

Dallas’ Al Día (Dallas Morning News, circ. 40,000, daily, Spanish) reaches younger Hispanics through “Fachas,” a section that features photos of young Hispanics at local concerts and events. Through an NIE (Newspapers in Education) program, Al Día is distributed, by teacher request, to 5,000 schools.

The NAA’s Hockenberry says most of the general market efforts to target teens have been web-focused, with print as a compliment. The Roanoke Times and The Virginian Pilot in North Virginia launched innovative web-based initiatives to try to target teen readers, including pod and web casts that carry an edgier, more youth oriented version of the news. On the marketing front, The Reading Eagle (Reading, PA.) saw ad sales targeting teens grow when they had a sales rep devoted to their teen product. Gilbert Bailon of Al Día in Dallas says it is often a lack of resources and staff that keeps Hispanic papers from reaching out more effectively to Hispanic youth.

Carrie Barnes