Feature lets marketers auto-target 7.7 million Latino adults in the United States.
Facebook has added a Hispanic targeting option to its self-service ad-buying platform. Marketers who create an ad and then select the broad category targeting option - as opposed to precise interest levels - will see an "Ethnic" tab. Currently the only subset option is "Hispanic," which can be added to the targeting mix with a click on its check box.
The feature reveals that Facebook has 7.7 million Hispanic users 18 and above in the U.S., while there are 8.4 million when including all ages. (According to the 2010 Census, there were 50.5 million Hispanics in the United States, making up 16.3 percent of the total population.)
Menlo Park, CA-based Facebook told ClickZ in an email that the feature went live sometime during the last half of 2011, but didn't disclose a more precise timeline. Gustavo Rezzetti is chief strategy and engagement officer at Grupos Gallegos and a ClickZ columnist who focuses on Latino marketing. Razetti said his team first noticed the Hispanic targeting feature on Facebook last month.
"We are not aware of how Facebook is identifying who is Hispanic," Razetti said. "If it's based on the language of the Facebook app only, that could be misleading."
Like Rezzetti, Captura Group founder Lee Vann said he first heard about the new targeting feature last month, and he figures it was likely implemented sometime during the last three months of 2011. Vann's Hispanic-focused online marketing services company has worked with media buyer MindShare to purchase direct Facebook ads (rather than self-service ones) zeroing in on American Hispanics. The efforts were for brands such as Unilever and Allstate, he said.
For those ads purchases, Vann said, Facebook's direct sales team created a "Hispanic overlay" to help big brands better target the demographic. Now, he said, it appears that same overlay is being made available to Facebook's Marketplace Ads/self-service customers.
Vann welcomed the development, but advised marketers to also include language targeting in their efforts for optimal results. "A lot of Hispanics, of course, use English on Facebook," he said.
Facebook's self-service advertisers, Vann explained, have taken aim at Hispanics in the past by targeting Zip code and designated market areas (DMAs) with a high concentration of Latino people. Another example is selecting interest level targets, such as people who have liked the Facebook pages of Hispanic-focused brands such as Univision, Telemundo, and CNN en Español.
Vann has devoted more than a decade of his online marketing career to the Hispanic niche. On the new broad category feature, he said, "This is definitely an improvement. But we are not all the way there."
This week, the Hispanic Leadership Network tested the targeting tool to protest a controversial tweet made by President Barack Obama's reelection campaign manager. The ads were targeted to independent and conservative Hispanic voters in states with large Hispanic populations - Colorado, Florida, Nevada, and New Mexico.
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Christopher Heine was a senior writer for ClickZ through June 2012. He covered social media, sports/entertainment marketing, retail, and more. Heine's work has also appeared via Mashable, Brandweek, DM News, MarketingSherpa, and other tech- and ad-centric publications. USA Today, Bloomberg Radio, and The Los Angeles Times have cited him as an expert journalist.
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