A Census CTA “en español”

FOCUS: HISPANIC John Barnes-35

By John Barnes, President, Mercury Media Santa Monica

The 2010 U.S. Census process has officially begun.  Preliminary field activity is under way, advertising and public relations campaigns are being planned, and marketers across the land anticipate “the ultimate” in statistically significant data revelations. 

I have always looked forward to U.S. Census Bureau reports.  They have never failed to serve as proof positive that the American marketplace, like our population, is both dynamic and diverse. 

One data set, in particular, has been especially significant over my last 30 years in the traditional, hybrid and now direct response agency business.  There are reams of historical and predictive data about the US Hispanic market and its socio-economic and cultural composition. 

What I cannot explain is what the vast majority of advertisers are waiting for.   Between the Census and the already high response we get from this segment, we have more than enough data points to justify a go-to-Hispanic-market strategy for virtually any product or service in the country.    

DRTV operates on a week-to-week basis, with or without Census numbers.  That’s because the numbers that we manage every day (MERs, CPCs, and CPAs) will hardly be affected by anything the Census takers tell us.  Unlike our traditional agency brothers, we buy for response, not tonnage. 

That said, I wonder how any direct response marketers can justify NOT integrating Spanish-language campaigns.  If there is one thing we will be able to count on from the US Census Bureau is that it will continue to quantify the opportunity costs of failing to recognize and address the needs of a $1 trillion buying bloc.

US Hispanics swing elections, they drive US population growth, and already represent 17% of all US viewers A18-49.  To this day advertisers spend less than 4% of their budgets to attract them as consumers.  We are putting our clients at risk.  It is safe to say that we are way past a tipping point.  Which is why we launched Mercury en español.

According to Simmons, last year Hispanics placed almost 12 million orders via phone, internet or mail.  This represents a 50% increase from 2004.  In the time that you read this article, 100 new Hispanic orders will be taken.  According to Univision, 46% of these orders will be taken with a credit card and another 23% with a debit card. 

To be sure, some of these orders will come through English-speaking channels.  But the vast majority require Spanish-language acquisition.  We live in a subscription TV world with “Latin Programming Tiers” across cable and satellite providers.   65% of Univision’s audience is unique.  In other words, it is exclusive of all major English-language networks. 

Consider this column and the 2010 U.S. Census a call-to-action to all of our Hispanic marketing partners, vendors, media, and colleagues –  let us define once and for all, “Exactly how much it costs our clients to keep resisting direct response “en español.”

John Barnes is President of Mercury Media Santa Monica and is responsible for leading the strategic direction and day-to-day operations of the West Coast practice including Mercury en español, a full-service Hispanic measured media practice.  Prior to joining Mercury, he served as Managing Director of Carat, West, where he played an instrumental role in establishing Carat as a dominant West Coast media company.   He previously served as Managing Director for Ammiratti Puris and Lintas in New York where he led the marketing campaigns on behalf of numerous blue chip clients.  

Contact him at jbarnes@mercurymedia.com

This article appeared in the July 2009 edition of Electronic Retailer Magazine.

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One Response to “A Census CTA “en español””

  1. Kristian Mattias Says:

    Nice blog. I got a lot of great info. I’ve been watching this technology for awhile. It’s intriguing how it keeps varying, yet some of the core factors stay the same. Have you seen much change since Google made their latest acquisition in the arena?

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