Hola, Mi Amigo

Hispanics are going online in staggering numbers. They are embracing the Internet and are really active users. But if a client came to you tomorrow and asked you about reaching Hispanics online, would you be able to answer their questions? Do you know the audience? Do you know how to connect with them online? Today, I’ll shed some light on the topic and direct you to some great resources where you can learn more for yourself.

First, let’s talk about the people. I’m one of them. According to eMarketer, there are an estimated 16.7 million Hispanic Internet users in the U.S. And that number is expected to be 21 million by 2010. Some of us speak English, some Spanish, and many speak both. My father came from Mexico and is Spanish-dominant. My mother is Hispanic and was born in America but grew up speaking equal amounts of English and Spanish. I grew up speaking mostly English but can speak Spanish, although not fluently.

My family is a great representation of what you’ll find when you reach Hispanics. In fact, Roper Public Affairs, in a study commissioned by AOL, stated that of U.S. Hispanic Internet users, 40 percent are English-dominant, 40 percent are bilingual, and 20 percent are Spanish-dominant.

But it’s not as simple as buying a few impressions on a Spanish Web site and translating your ad units. There are language and cultural nuances you’ll want to explore. To reach someone like my father, you’d have to communicate to him in Spanish on a Spanish-language site. To engage my mother, you might go to an English- or Spanish-language site. And to reach me, you’d likely find me on a general market site. With each of us, you’ll want to speak in the language we prefer and understand how we identify with our cultural heritage. So that’s enough about my family and me.

When Hispanics go online, they are very social. Some of the activities they prefer include instant messaging, sharing photos, reading or posting to blogs, visiting social networking sites, and using the Internet to talk on the phone. This is according to a study done by Synovate for AOL Latino in September 2006. Additionally, they “believe the Internet is the best source to make financial purchase decisions on brands or products.”

Of course, you can find Hispanics on popular general market sites like Yahoo, MSN, AOL, and MySpace. According to Nielsen NetView, the below are some of the top Hispanic sites in terms of audience composition and unique visitors for October 2006. This is by no means a comprehensive list, but some of the more cultural-specific sites include:

Top Hispanic Sites by Audience and Unique Visitors, October 2006
Hispanic audience (%) Unique audience (000)
Esmas 92 361
Yahoo Telemundo 92 533
Univision.com 76 602
Glitter-Graphics.com 42 490
MSN Messenger 18 1,418
MySpace 13 6,390
Disney Online 12 2,430
MSN Hotmail 12 3,560
YouTube 11 3,364
Source: Nielsen NetView, 2006

Other sites you might want to look at:

And where can you find out more about the U.S. Hispanic Internet audience? Here are a few great resources: eMarketer has a great report called “Hispanic Youth Online: Language and Culture Define Usage.” The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) recently released “Reaching U.S. Hispanics Through Online Marketing.” And AOL has a fairly new study called “The AOL Latino 2006 Hispanic Cyberstudy.” I couldn’t find the whole study online ( I got mine from our rep), but some of the information can be found here. I’m quite sure your rep would be more than happy to provide you with a copy of the full report.

I hope this has helped you get a little better grasp on the U.S. Hispanic Internet audience. It’s certainly not something you can completely explain in one column. I encourage you to dig into some of the research above.

And if you have insights into the audience, I’d love to hear from you.

Related reading