The next challenge: digital

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General-market agencies control at least half the money spent on Hispanic online advertising, making digital departments and specialized agencies the next frontier for the Hispanic ad industry.

One of the pioneers is Miami-based Media 8, a 4-year-old digital agency that works either directly with clients or as a digital partner for Hispanic agencies.

"The trend is for general-market agencies to keep the digital budget associated with Hispanic and take money away from Hispanic agencies," said John Santiago, co-CEO of Media 8. "Hispanic agencies can't just have a digital capability, they have to be up to par with the general-market agencies. But clients give their Hispanic agency a couple hundred thousand dollars [for digital] and the general-market agency a couple million, and expect the Hispanic agency to do the same kind of work."

Although the Internet Advertising Bureau estimates that Hispanic online advertising could reach $100 million this year, Mr. Santiago said the total is likely to be closer to $60 million, up from about $40 million last year. He estimates his agency, with 29 staffers, has 10% to 15% of the Hispanic interactive advertising market. Media 8's clients include Mexicana Airlines and the U.S. Army, working with the Army's Hispanic agency, independent shop Cartel Group, San Antonio.

NoBox, a six-year-old Puerto Rican Web developer and online agency, opened a Miami office in October 2004. Two of the agency's four partners moved to Miami.

"We're going after the U.S. Hispanic market and the general market, too," said Monica Heitlauf, NoBox's media director and a partner. She said the agency is already working on two U.S. Hispanic assignments: a Spanish-language Web site for Johnson & Johnson's Tylenol and the Hispanic portion of Procter & Gamble Cos.' contest to vote for a new Crest toothpaste flavor.

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