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Interview: Maria Lopez Knowles: “It is essential to demystify the online Hispanic market”


Pulpo Media last week announced that Maria Lopez Knowles has joined the company as its Chief Marketing Officer. In the below interview Lopez Knowles tells Portada that there is a great need to demystify the market so that advertisers can drive more efficient programs. As confusing to advertisers she cites the fact that Hispanics online  can be camouflaged due to their English-language behavior and content consumption patterns. In addition, Lopez Knowles notes that much Internet viewing is done collectively in many Hispanic homes: “Some family members view Spanish content, then most of the e-commerce transactions and enrolments occur in English (driven by the more acculturated Hispanic) – again, confusing the marketplace.”

Portada: What do you think you bring in terms of experience and knowledge to Pulpo Media?

Maria Lopez KnowlesMaria Lopez Knowles, CMO, Pulpo Media: “From a professional background, I bring over 25 years of industry experience, both on the ad agency and client sides of the business, to Pulpo Media. I’ve also been committed to discerning and engaging the online Hispanic for the last 6 years, and have deep insights about the segment. That said, from a personal perspective, I am a U.S. born Hispanic, who has intimately lived the second-generation immigrant experience, and am passionate about marketing to distinct acculturation levels in hyper-relevant ways: linguistically; culturally; and, intellectually – via digital means. Pulpo’s commitment to reaching and touching the online Hispanic – (i) Hispanic, drew me to the company, as well as their superb product and services offerings, and excellent team of professionals.”

According to Adage Data Center estimates, Hispanic Internet display advertising increased  by 2.5% from US $420 million to US $431 million. Do you agree with that estimate? (It seems a bit high particularly because it doesn’t seem to include search)
Maria Lopez Knowles: “I think the estimate may be a little high, exclusive of search, that said it really depends on how much of the Hispanic market is included in this estimate, (e.g. English language dominant Hispanics).

However, the growth rate seems low (+2,5%). What is your take on that?
Maria Lopez Knowles: “I think advertisers are very confused about the online Hispanic market. The online Hispanic in many ways can be camouflaged due to their English-language behaviors and content consumption patterns.  For example, some advertisers assume that if their more acculturated Hispanic consumers are English-language dominant, they fall under ‘general market’ so they can market to them effectively in English, via their general market programs.  They may be reaching them, but the issue is that an affective connection isn’t being made – they aren’t touching them with their communications.  Once advertisers see that they can drive better engagement with the more acculturated online Hispanic by marketing to them in a distinct fashion, we’ll see greater growth. Furthermore, much Internet viewing is done collectively in many Hispanic homes.  Some family members view Spanish content, then most of the e-commerce transactions and enrolments occur in English (driven by the more acculturated Hispanic) – again, confusing the marketplace.  It’s essential to demystify the Hispanic market, so that advertisers can drive more efficient programs that deliver a greater ROI. Then, investment spend will follow.”

To what extent does an exclusively Hispanic/Latin American orientation benefit Pulpo Media compared to other DMP/DSPs?
Maria Lopez Knowles: “Our exclusive focus allows Pulpo Media to have greater comprehensive expertise and depth in the Hispanic/Latin American worlds, both across acculturation levels and countries of origin.  These worlds are extremely dynamic, in constant flux, and very diverse. Understanding the consumer’s heritage, their characteristics, and their unique journeys, from a Latino perspective, empowers us to better serve the markets and to be authentically committed to their growth and success.  We can drive greater insights and knowledge about our consumer base, and turn these into actionable recommendations and programs for our advertisers – constantly optimizing an advertiser’s reach, and positively informing their touch.”

Where do you see the Hispanic digital media sector evolving especially compared to general market.
Maria Lopez Knowles: “ We’ll definitely see a boom in investment spend in the digital Hispanic space as most advertisers that understand how valuable the segment is today, and how paramount it will be in the relatively near-term covet the online Hispanic market.  The amount of time Hispanics spend online and their engagement online, when compared to the general market, speaks for itself. For example, Hispanics spend more time than the general market consuming online video, texting, social networking, etc. For the millennial Hispanic, mobile devices are their primary source of entertainment. So new content, services and apps will need to be developed to better serve the market. I think we’re also going to see a drive towards hyper-relevance across the board, with language preference and acculturation gaining greater import, as well as country of origin/ancestry, geo-targeting, device-targeting, psychographics, familial composition, influencer-status, etc. And the key role of analytics on the back-end, will only gain more significance, as it will drive optimization and KPIs. I think we’re still in the very nascent stages of the Hispanic digital media space.”

There is talk about a need for consolidation in the Ad-Tech sector (Ad Tech ecosystem). Do you agree and how do you think this play out in the U.S. Hispanic and Latin American markets?
“It’s such a fragmented industry, that one would think consolidation makes sense.  In the short-term, I think we’ll see more strategic alliances and partnerships emerge, that may drive M & As down the road. Long-term, it may benefit the market: a fragmented consumer base + a fragmented supply chain = limited expansion due to fear and lack of discernment. I think this applies to both US and Latin America, but primarily, U.S.  That said, there’s always room for a best of breed provider vs. an ERP solution.”


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