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The ad industry in Mexico is divided into two groups: agencies that offer advertising services only and those that offer integrated marketing communications, including advertising, public relations, market information, artistic work and modeling. By the late 1990s, there were approximately 100 advertising agencies, although only 54 were members of the Mexican Association of Advertising Agencies.

Advertising in Mexico is regulated by two government agencies: the Secretariat de Salubridad, which has the authority to change both advertising copy and visual materials, and Godernacion, which has final approval on whether a TV spot will be broadcast.

Groupo Televisa

The largest media organization in Mexico is Grupo Televisa, S.A., the leading entertainment conglomerate in the Spanish-speaking world. The company produces more than 10,000 hours of programming every year and owns more than 250 TV stations and four networks; 17 radio stations; a majority stake in the cable venture Cablevision and in Innova, which operates the Sky direct-to-home satellite system; and more than 30 Spanish-language magazines.

Televisa is majority-owned by the family of its chairman-CEO, Emilio Azcarraga Jean, through the holding company Televicentro. Televisa held an estimated 70% of the country's $1.8 million TV ad market in 2000, according to Advertising Age Global.

Televisa's closest competitor is TV Azteca S.A. de C.V., a relative newcomer to the Mexican market. With less than a decade of experience at the turn of the century, TV Azteca owned more than 250 Mexican TV stations and operated two TV networks, which it bought in 1993.

While TV is popular, the radio audience for Mexican advertising is substantial, since many people who cannot afford a TV set do own a radio. There are 900 radio stations in Mexico, and all are commercially supported.

The Directorate General of Radio, Television & Cinematography is responsible for granting concessions for radio stations and TV channels in Mexico, the first Latin American country to have TV. The government requires all radio and television stations to allot a designated amount of airtime daily for news and government-sponsored announcements. In addition, all radio and TV stations are required to render one-eighth of their airtime to the government, which the RTC is responsible for programming.

In the 1970s, the government created a holding corporation to oversee competition among commercial stations. The broadcasting facilities for commercial and government TV channels were consolidated into a single production and broadcasting center. The government controls the programming of its own provincial TV stations and controls that of the privately owned network affiliates as well. Independent (local, non-network) stations are not government controlled.

Other ad media

The fastest-growing advertising medium in Mexico is the Internet. The country had 1.7 million Internet accounts by the end of 2000 (compared to 1.5 million the previous year), representing approximately 3.4 million users (2 million in 1999). Access to the Internet was expected to remain relatively low, however—at about 10% of the population—owing to the country's lack of a developed telecommunications infrastructure as well as poverty in rural areas.

Newspapers are one of the most accessible media for advertisers in Mexico. Mexico City has 15 daily newspapers, and more than 320 papers are published throughout the rest of the country. Many papers feature color ads, and government notices are often published in several of the larger, more popular papers. Trade and industry magazines offer large circulation bases to commercial enterprises throughout Mexico. There are approximately 200 trade magazines, many of them specialized business publications, plus 155 non-trade, mostly consumer-oriented magazines in circulation, of which only two are printed in English.

Almost all newspapers in Mexico are published in Spanish, and although most are privately owned, they operate under government regulation. The major Spanish-language newspapers include El Economista, El Financiero, Excelsior, El Universal, Uno Mas Uno and El Dia. At least one Spanish-language daily newspaper is published in every state capital in Mexico. Monterrey's El Norte, which is widely recognized as the best regional daily, is available in cities throughout the north.

Outdoor boards are another popular ad medium in Mexico. The use of billboards has expanded rapidly in major cities, and by the late 1990s, at least 100 agencies offered this medium to their clients. Some 60 companies produce different types of billboards, ranging from traditional paper to electronically controlled displays.

Direct mail is a relatively new industry in Mexico, and it works especially well in this market, where most people actually read whatever is sent to them in the mail. The Mexican Association of Direct Marketing has grown dramatically. One major concern about the use of direct mail in Mexico, however, is the reliability of the country's postal system, which has a history of inefficiency.

Analysts expect the demand for ad agency services to increase as a consequence of the North American Free Trade Agreement. New manufacturing industries are expected to develop in Mexico, and the number of retail stores will also likely increase. Strategic alliances between U.S. and Mexican companies in various areas of the economy are also expected to contribute to growth.

At the turn of the 21st century, Mexico was the No. 13 ad market in the world. Total advertising spending in 2001 was projected to reach $6.1 billion, up from $5 billion in 2000, and the country was on the verge of rapid growth in this area. At the same time, it was the No. 2 user of the Internet among Latin American countries, trailing only Brazil.

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