The Fight for Targeting Latinos Online

  |  June 21, 2011   |  Comments

Reaching Latinos online can be difficult or misleading. How can we broaden the conversation and appeal to Latinos' interests?

If you're looking for a fight dog, googling "pitbull" can take you to a different place. Not only because the successful rapper will be at the top of the searches, but also because this stage English name can be misleading. Behind Pitbull, there's a Latino called Armando Pérez, the real name of this Cuban American artist.

As Latinos online continue to grow, this fight for identifying and targeting them is becoming more and more challenging. Reaching Latinos online can be, as the pitbull example, difficult or misleading.

Language as An Approach

Spanish language seems the obvious way to go. Either the language selected for tools used (browser, Twitter, etc.) or language in which the social conversation happens could help identify Latinos online. For example, Facebook allows people to select if they speak Spanish or Spanish and English. You could assume that those users, if living in the U.S., are Latinos. Unfortunately, most people either don't change or add these two options. By the way, did you know that Facebook users can select "Spanglish" as a language option?

Also, considering that 67 percent of Hispanics browse the Internet only in English, language preference might be very limiting. So what happens with English-preferred Latinos?

Broadening the Conversation

Social media monitoring tools experience the same limitations when identifying Latinos online. Identifying conversations in Spanish around a specific brand seems to be a good approach, but we've already discussed that language can be misleading.

Providing a context to where conversations are happening can help provide some light. Including specific terms that are Latino-relevant and/or part of your Hispanic advertising campaign can help better understand which part of that social conversation comes from Latino consumers.

Hashtags can be very helpful. As my co-columnist @giorodriguez says, "many Latinos have openly embraced the hashtag for this kind of socialization." #beinglatino, #hispz, #vivaviernes, and #latism are great examples of this that can help "identify" which conversations are happening in the Latino community.

Blogger outreach is another interesting solution, especially considering the continuously growing presence of Latino bloggers. Though most successful Latino bloggers are starting to crossover, the vast majority of their followers are still Latinos.

The Latino Interest

Behavioral targeting allows marketers to partially solve the limitations of the language approach. Ad networks can target Hispanics on English language websites. They range from identifying browser language settings to "lookalikes" who are users who have visited sites of competitors in a client's category, to "audience aggregators" who make partnership deals with specific websites. "My first choice of networks is one that knows a user has visited 'x' number of pages in Spanish somewhere in their recent history," says Sharon Cooper, associate media director of GrupoGallegos. "To me, that is more valuable than a network who targets sites that 'seem like they're pertinent with Latinos.'" In the case of Facebook, it doesn't allow banners to be served in its environment from the "outside."

Targeting Latinos based on interests could add another important layer to the approaches cited before. Advertisers need to consider interests such as soccer, Latino music, novelas, Spanish TV/radio, brands, or places with a high Latino incidence, among others.

An Open Conversation

With Latinos (same as with any other consumers), it's all about being relevant. At the end of the day, we're not targeting Latinos just because they're Latinos. If we focus on specific insights or interests that are relevant to our consumers (that, by the way, are Hispanic), then they will join the conversation.

Think of Pitbull when he explains his stage name - that of a dog that bites to lock - saying that, for him, life's been a constant fight. Sounds like the challenge of targeting Latinos online.


Gustavo Razzetti

Gustavo Razzetti is EVP, Managing Director of Lapiz, the Latino shop of Leo Burnett. He has 20+ years of experience in integrated marketing communications in U.S. and Latin American markets.

A change agent, with the expertise of transforming agencies into digital at the core shops, Razzetti has become one of the leading voices when it comes to understanding the new market dynamics of US Latinos.

Former Chief Strategy & Engagement Officer at Grupo Gallegos, president of GlobalHue NY and CEO of Euro RSCG Latino. Razzetti's career is marked by extensive experience working with top consumer brands such as Comcast, Walgreens, Verizon, Nestlé, Chivas Regal, General Motors, Coca-Cola, and BBVA, and 200 others. He also served as CEO of Euro RSCG both in Puerto Rico and in Argentina. Prior to that, Gustavo was CEO and founding partner of WhyNet - the no. 1 interactive agency in Argentina.

Strategist by conviction, digital pioneer by choice, leader by evolution; Razzetti has received recognitions that include Effie awards, Gran Prix AMBA, Euro RSCG's CBI Award, and Strategic Planning Director of the Year, McCann Erickson. Many of the campaigns he strategically led won Cannes, Clio, New York Festival, London, and FIAP awards, among others.

On a personal note, Gustavo loves scuba diving, bicycling, gourmet cooking, and fine wines.

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