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How To Utilize A Hispanic Over-The-Top Advertising Strategy


Isabel Rafferty is Founder/CEO of Medium Cinnamon, a leading digital media company that connects brands with multicultural audiences.

Cord-cutting has become more universal; viewers of all demographics are increasingly choosing to forego traditional cable and instead shift their consumption to streaming platforms. When compared to the rest of the population, Hispanic audiences in the United States are more likely (paywall) to have at least one video-on-demand subscription service. This, especially, makes over-the-top (OTT) advertising a great opportunity for brands to extend their reach and create lasting connections with this demographic.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, given how popular streaming is among Hispanics, there has been a wave of streaming platforms aimed squarely at that demographic. My own company has seen extraordinary growth since starting one of the first advertising-based video on demand (AVOD) streaming services for U.S. Hispanics over a year and a half ago. Univision also launched its free, ad-supported platform PrendeTV earlier this year, while PlutoTV has expanded its Latino-focused offerings and rebranded the category as Pluto TV en español.

During the pandemic, 70% of Hispanics reported spending more time watching movies or shows on a streaming service. My company experienced this firsthand with many viewers burning through an entire series of a novela (which is typically around 180 episodes) in a single week. Yet, at the same time, when advertisers were cutting back on their commitments due to budget cuts, I saw that multicultural marketing was often the first to go or be significantly downsized. This has put a lot of brands at a serious disadvantage because those companies that were able to maintain their Hispanic outreach are naturally in a better position with regard to brand awareness and loyalty. As a result, now that advertising activity is beginning to approach pre-pandemic levels, I see that a lot of brands are being forced to play catch-up.

As the media has been reporting for decades, Hispanics are a vast, growing demographic with trillions of dollars in buying power. They’re also responsible for the majority of population growth in the United States, according to the most recent census. It’s no surprise then that brands are looking to target this audience and are especially interested in investing in platforms that promise to do just that. At the same time, if not done properly, marketers could end up alienating more viewers than they convert. To put it another way: these new streaming platforms may make it easier for marketers to reach Hispanic audiences, but they don’t eliminate the need for culturally sensitive and relevant advertising.

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You want to make sure the platform you are advertising on includes a content library designed to appeal to Hispanics of all backgrounds, whether they’re first-generation immigrants from Venezuela or third-generation Mexican-Americans living in Texas. Effective media often includes classic shows and films from Latin America that can help evoke a sense of nostalgia from immigrants living in the United States. Also, look out for family-friendly content that audiences of all ages can enjoy together. Viewers who are engaged on an emotional level are not only likely to stay loyal, they also are likely to spend more time on our platform — which means more opportunities for advertisers to reach them.

In order for advertisers to develop an effective Hispanic OTT strategy, they need to think about what their brand has to offer for various audiences within the demographic. For example, one of the reasons that McDonald’s has been so successful at cultivating Hispanic audiences is by highlighting experiences in its advertising that Latinos can relate to on an emotional level, whether it’s a beloved character from their childhood or the experience of having your entire family show up on your first day on the job. Hispanics in the U.S. are also mostly young, with an average age of 29, which means that if your brand reaches them early enough, you have the opportunity to turn them into loyal customers for life.

Marketers will need to go beyond just earmarking a percentage of their OTT spending for multicultural audiences; they need to look at the content they are connecting to their brand and be sure that their brand aligns with that content. Additionally, developing original content partnerships with streaming providers is an effective tactic.

But building a successful Hispanic OTT strategy is not just about identifying which platforms to advertise on and what types of creative will resonate with various groups. It also requires thinking about your brand’s unique proposition to those audiences, and possibly even reconfiguring your entire approach to advertising. As Matt Ryan, the CEO of consulting firm Roth Ryan Hayes, notes, there’s been a shift lately from multicultural agencies being relegated to “distributing the core marketing message in relevant ways” to having them actively participate “in the origination of the core messaging strategies” alongside other agencies and brand marketers.

By taking this approach to OTT, brands can embark on a more nuanced strategy that will maximize their appeal to Latino viewers while staying true to their core principles — not to mention make their outreach feel more authentic. Latino audiences hunger for relevant content, and that desire extends to advertising. It’s time for marketers to step up to the plate and start thinking about the platforms, programming, delivery and brand’s offerings their brand can bring to the Hispanic population.


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