Saturday, February 28, 2009

Hispanic Crossover Success

In my line of work, I spend a lot of time convincing clients about the value of cultural relevance in advertising. We explain why simply translating work from English to Spanish-language is not effective. It's not about the language - it's about talking to Hispanics by using their culture as a way to their heart.

With this approach, my agency develops a lot of original creative work for Latinos. Mostly, our creative runs on Hispanic targeted media outlets like Univision and Telemundo.

Yet, there are occasions when we create work that transcends the original target audience. Creative that tugs at the heart or makes you laugh regardless of your ethnicity. It's in these instances that we realize that in spite of our cultural differences, we as humans have way more similarities.

Creativity is an online magazine that celebrates the best creative campaigns. Our agency's work for Wendy's was just highlighted by their Ad Critic Pick of the Week. This is only the third time that a Hispanic-targeted campaign has been selected. It's certainly a reminder that any differences between us are differences in small increments. Enjoy the ad.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Facebook Archetypes

You know a website hit critical mass when articles starting analyzing the audience that visits it. I just found this article about the 9 Facebook archetypes. It profiles that types of folks that we tend to encounter on social networking sites.

It includes archetypes like the Ghost - that guy or gal that signs up for an account, spends all but 2 minutes setting up an account with no picture - never to return again. All that remains are the sillouette of his/her missing picture and a few hundred unanswered friend requests. Or the showoff - the ladies that show too much decolletage or the guys who climbed K2 on their last vacation.

Sociologists and Anthropologists have their hands full with this one....

Online Killed the Video Star?

In these tough economic times, everyone is looking to cut corners and save a few bucks. No doubt, multicultural audiences who are some of the hardest hit are taking a really close look at every expense. One that seems like a luxury is cable. I pay over $100 a month....for hundreds of channels where ironically I can never find anything worth watching!!

I've mentioned in the past that Hispanics trail the general market in cable penetration - primarily because we live in relatively flat cities like LA and Dallas to name just a couple.

Telemundo shared some data today that said that Hispanics were considering cutting premium channels like HBO and Showtime. But, I started thinking...why end there? With sites like Youtube and (a joint venture between NBC and Fox) attracting millions of video viewers - isn't online video the proverbial TV killer?

Nielsen reported that last year, Americans watched on average 5 hours of TV a day! (I don't have that much time, do you?) Well, apparently the average American does. But, internet users watched 14.3 billion online videos in December 2008, that's up 41% from a year earlier.

With busy schedules because of family and personal commitments and for those of us fortunate to still have jobs - television schedules can be rather rigid. But with online video, you can watch your favorite shows whenever you want - on demand. Yes, I know, DVR is better...does the same thing and you avoid those annoying Hawii Tourism Board ads on, but still. DVR is an added expense...internet video is free. Is it just a matter of time before internet video gives cable a deafening blow?

Monday, February 23, 2009

Going Where No Google Has Gone Before

I just read a fascinating article about the deep web, i.e. the trillions of pages that lie undiscovered by Google in vast databases far and wide.

Google just celebrated its trillionth page "crawl," the process it uses to discern the content on web pages it then serves up as a potential solution to your Google query. Yet, even with a trillion pages, there are still trillions more that are "too deep" to be factored.

Ever wonder why Google can't give you comparative rates for a flight to Denver? Or why its Froogle software only gives you a few retailer options out of the hundreds (or thousands) that likely carry that item? It's the deep web...the places where Google has yet to "spider."

This brought me back to the original intention of the web to democratize communication. If everyone has the opportunity to use the channel to communicate, then Google is the tool that either gives you a massive audience or leaves you to fend for yourself. It's like having a publicist or doing your own publicity. The latter is likely going to be a much harder job. So then, democracy goes out the door when someone can get a massive audience via Google, instead of a lonely website with a few dozen followers (like yours truly and his blog.)

Sure there is search engine optimization - to help you improve the likelyhood that Google will read your site and put you up in the rankings. But, there remain the millions of blogs and other content that remain relatively unknown. Will there ever be a Google powerful enough to go where no search engine has gone before?

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Facebook Privacy - What Privacy?

Facing extreme pressure from its users, Facebook rescinded their updated policy to essentially "own" in perputuity any content that a user uploads - even if that user deletes his or her profile. One would think that Facebook stole everyone's first born child with the firestorm the company endured this week. Blogs were abuzzing...

What I found interesting is two things - the idea of privacy on a social network and how Hispanics reacted (or didn't react) to the news. The easy one first: social networks are public forums! You may have implemented strict security settings, but in essence, the difference is between walking around naked in the street or on your balcony (either way, someone is going to see you.)

The second is a cultural understanding of Hispanics and their concept of privacy. I've scanned blogs and have seen few Hispanic surnames in the comments section. Hispanics don't seem to be that up in arms about this whole mess. Yet, Hispanics make up a healthy margin of Facebook users (in the neighborhood of 23% even though they make up only 15% of the population.) So what gives? Don't they care that Facebook wants to own their Quinceniera pictures?

The answer is not really. When you grow up in multigenerational households and alongside more siblings than non-Hispanics (3.2 average siblings vs. 2.3), you're idea of privacy is fluid. You understand and accept that your "business" is going to be shared with more people. You accept that your brother's friends are going to tell their cousin Maria that you threw up at the carnival and show her a picture of it. That's life. If Facebook wants to own pictures of your Aunt Teresa dancing salsa with Cuco, your pitbull, then go for it. Afterall, social networks are for sharing. Don't share what you don't want others to see or know.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The Future of Digital Strategists

In this job climate, there are few employment opportunities available in advertising. In fact, most agencies are laying people off. Yet, a quick perusal of recruitment sites like Monster and Careerbuilder revealed that there are digital strategist opportunities available. I started thinking, in today's climate, shouldn't we all be digital strategists?

Ten years ago when digital marketing hit critical mass, digital strategists were essential. There was a major learning curve to understand the new marketing technologies. But as time progressed, the silos continued. Today, most clients are shifting resources to the web and mobile. But, in order to make that assessment, client's need to evaluate concurrent media usage of offline and digital channels - together.

If you don't understand all channels, then you are missing an opportunity to connect with consumers the way they are experiencing media - seamlessly. Consumers follow content - the channels they choose to gain access to that content is secondary.

While I do believe there is a role for specialists, the reality of the matter is that if we aren't all well versed in digital, than we aren't doing our job as marketers.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Pirates of the Telenovela

I just read an Ad Age article about how Univision is the #1 pirated network on YouTube according to a survey conducted by TubeMogul. In fact, with over 583.7 million views compared to the next closest network, Fox at 289 million views, Univision has a major content piracy problem on YouTube.

But this is really no surprise given that Univision and it's Mexican content supplier, Televisa, have been battling for years to clarify who gets U.S. digital distribution rights. This is a very lucrative opportunity that both are missing out on. To date, neither nor Televisa's have been able to showcase any telenovela video content to U.S. Hispanics.

A judge is expected to decide in March who gets the rights to stream video content on both the web and mobile. Until then, the pirates of telenovelas can continue to enjoy their YouTube fare.

The Voodoo that You Do

My co-worker keeps talking about this company called Voodoo Box. They are a media company that allows advertisers to place audio recordings on phone card servers. In essence, they offer immigrants (mostly Latino and Asian) discounted phone cards at retail stores in exchanged for them listening to an advertiser's pitch.

This seems like an obnoxious way to reach unacculturated Hispanic and Asian immigrants. I would assume that they don't take kindly to this type of interruptive messaging. Well, apparently I'm wrong.

We've tested it with a couple of clients, including Greyhound, and it's performed much stronger than most online campaigns. In fact, redemptions for the offers that we've included have been rather significant.

Who knew that Voodoo that we do could lead to the hearts of so many Latinos and Asians?

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Socialistas Make Face Time

I was laughing to myself in the subway on the way to work. I saw the campaign for Dentyne with the tagline, Make Face Time. The campaign in a nutshell tells folks to log off the computer and have more interpersonal interaction. I started to wonder, is this relevant to Hispanics?

Over the past 12-months, the Hispanic online population boomed. The online universe of Latinos grew 19% while the overall audience stayed relatively flat. What’s more interesting is where that audience has gone. It’s not or, two top Spanish-Language networks. Nope. Those sites actually saw decreases in audience.

The winner. MySpace. Their Latino audience surged an incredible 293% over the past year. Not only that, but Latinos are going to the site daily and spending a lot of time interacting with friends.

Social networking sites are popular with everyone. But for us Latinos, social networking sites are like steroids for our social ways. We’re more likely to have extensive daily interaction with more people and social networks allow us to broaden our scope further. What can we say, we like being friendly.

So does the Dentyne campaign work for our market? Hardly. If you look at the stuff that Hispanics are doing on MySpace or Facebook, it’s facilitating face time, not impeding it. We’re making arrangements to meet in person, sending invites, keeping tabs on friends in South America and reading and commenting on friend’s updates. “Lucinda is bored out of her mind.” - “Lucy, quit your job and come have a drink at Perfect Pint.”

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Why the iPhone is Latino

As I was researching competitive information for a wireless client, I came across a really interesting fact. Over 32% of iPhone owners are Hispanic despite the fact that they only represent 15% of the population. Very interesting.

That made me wonder: why is the iPhone so popular among Latinos?

It's no surprise we like the functionality of the phone. I mean, we spend a lot of time downloading music, videos, wall papers, texting, IMing, emailing, etc. But there are plenty of other phones that do the same thing. Maybe not as cool, but certainly cheaper.

Yet, the answer is really quite simple. It's status. Who wants a Blackberry Curve when you can have an iPhone? The iPhone says something about who you are. It's like driving around in a BMW with an Administrative Assistant's salary.

And when you're present during everything from the mundane every day, to abuelitas Sunday barbeque after church, then you're part of the family. iPhone, welcome to the familia.

TV’s Digital Disenfranchisement

Last week, Congress finally approved a motion to postpone the planned TV digital conversion on February 17th. The move was intended to help the 6.5 million households that Nielsen reports to be “totally unready.” While the report indicates that 5.7% of the nation is still unprepared for the switch, those numbers are much higher amongst minorities. Nielsen said 9.9% of African-American households and 9.7% of Hispanic households are totally unready.

Nielsen’s numbers also suggest a number of big markets — among them Los Angeles, Phoenix and Houston — could temporarily lose more than 10% of Hispanic or African-American households with the digital changeover.

Most believe that the lag by both of these demographic groups is driven by the lack of funding for the Commerce Department’s coupon program to subsidize digital TV converter boxes for consumers. There is now a wait list of over 3.2 million for the $40 rebates. Obama’s administration is seeking to include additional funding for this program as part of the economic stimulus package under consideration. The boxes generally cost between $40 and $80 each and can be purchased without a coupon.

I would argue that this is another example of preconceived notions about minorities' income.  African Americans and Latinos over-index in the purchases of home entertainment systems.  Latinos in particular have a high propensity for technology adoption. 

However, one technology that never reached parity with the general market is cable subscription. This is strongly related to the Hispanic population geographic distribution in markets with flatter topography such as Los Angeles, Miami, Houston and Dallas. As such, full-power Spanish-language stations like Univision and Telemundo carry well over-the-air and the lack of Hispanic-targeted cable options have kept cable adoption relatively low.

With minorities lagging behind on this issue, and over 500 stations still planning to move forward with the switch next week, it will be interesting to see how ratings are impacted.  Certainly, a reduction of viewers in these two key demographics will harshly hit the already battered networks.