Mobile Marketers Target Receptive Hispanic Audience

Continental Airlines, General Mills, Sears Work to Launch Latino-Centric Cellphone Campaigns

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SAN FRANCISCO ( -- Hispanics, the country's largest and fastest-growing ethnic minority, are becoming a sought-after target for mobile advertisers as brands connect the dots between the group's receptiveness to advertising and its heavy mobile usage.

Eric Bader: 'Marketers now have significant Hispanic investment objectives.'
Eric Bader: 'Marketers now have significant Hispanic investment objectives.' Credit: Tony Pettinato
Telecommunications and automotive advertisers have led the way in pitching to Hispanics through mobile, but other categories are joining the fray. Brands including Continental Airlines, General Mills, Sears, Kmart and Tag Heuer will be working in the first quarter to launch Latino-centric mobile campaigns.

Many marketers expect rising incremental budgets as brands look to integrate mobile into Hispanic-centric campaigns. Ad network JumpTap predicted Hispanic-centric campaigns would quadruple this year, with revenue increasing at least 20% in the segment. That expected ramp-up strikes at the nexus of mobile marketing's momentum and a realization that the Hispanic demographic is undertapped.

"Marketers now have significant Hispanic investment objectives written into their plans," said Eric Bader, managing partner of Brand in Hand, which has executed Hispanic-targeted campaigns for major consumer brands.

"A lot of companies are trying to figure out how to get in and play," said Marla Skiko, head of digital at multicultural media-buying agency Tapestry.

Glued to handsets
The case for using mobile to reach Hispanics is compelling. Research suggests that U.S. Hispanics are more engaged with their mobile phones than Americans overall. Some 71% of Hispanics consume content on their cellphones, compared with the market average of 48%, according to ComScore M:Metrics. Why? Many don't have subscriptions to internet or landline service, so wireless phones are their sole communications tool. Additionally, the median age among Hispanics is 27.6, compared with 36.6 in the population as a whole, so that may also help explain their propensity toward mobile.

The boon for marketers is that Hispanics are particularly receptive to receiving pitches. According to Forrester, 6% of Hispanics interact with text-messaging campaigns vs. 3% of non-Hispanics. Mobile ad network Quattro averages about three page views per user but well over four on its Hispanic network, said CEO Andy Miller.

"Hispanics are curious and interested about messages directed specifically to them and from a source they recognize," said Felipe Korzenny, professor and director of the Center for Hispanic Marketing Communication at Florida State University. "They are not as cynical as the rest of the population about advertising messages."

Experts recommend embedding cultural relevance -- for example the "sweet 15" milestone Mis Quince, an age that marks the onset of womanhood for Latino girls -- into campaigns and tying them to compelling celebrities, content and cultural traditions. Last year, Procter & Gamble saw success with a Cover Girl campaign that included a Mis Quince contest. The bilingual campaign ran on some 10 mobile properties, including Univision, ElleGirl and Sprint's carrier deck, and its page views and click-through rates surpassed those for broad-based mobile advertising campaigns, according to Quattro Wireless. P&G, through its ad vendors, declined to release the exact metrics.

"Hispanics are shrewd shoppers, but at the same time, they're interested in the experience," said Tom Kadala, who consults on the Hispanic consumer market. "They want something fun and exciting."

AT&T sponsored the Mexican soccer tournament broadcast by U.S. Spanish-language TV network Telemundo last year and invited fans to text their votes for their favorite players.

"Hispanics are media junkies," said Peter Blacker, exec VP of Telemundo's digital media and emerging businesses. "The campaigns are really creating that circle between television and mobile."

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