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Hispanic Programming: What’s the Best Approach?

10/18/2006 2:18 PM Eastern

New York -- The first panel discussion of the Fourth Annual Hispanic Summit 2006 here addressed the question of how to generate revenue with advertising in the rapidly changing -- and easily misunderstood -- Hispanic market.

The discussion involved Monica Gil, vice president of communications and community affairs, Nielsen Media Research; Veronica Payán González, managing partner, d exposito & partners; Mark Lopez, publisher, AOL Latino; Cynthia Perkins-Roberts, VP of diversity marketing and business development, Cabletelevision Advertising Bureau; Court Stroud, executive VP and sales manager, Azteca America; and Phillip Woodie, director of multicultural sales, Comcast Spotlight.

On the subject of measuring ratings, Gil described how the process worked, with Nielsen randomly selecting subscribers either for a “people meter” or diary system, both of which go into homes and are wired to all TV sets within a household.

The people meter -- placed in 5,100 households across the country -- measures what program is being tuned to and which individual within the household is watching. The diary system is used in 56 of the largest markets and is limited to TV-set tuning. Nielsen uses the results of both measuring systems for its reports.

Asked about fair sampling, Gil said all Nielsen families were kept confidential and each was in steady communication with bilingual Nielsen representatives.

And as for keeping up with trends in out-of-home viewing, such as via cellular phones and iPods, Nielsen plans to roll out better measurement devices in 2008.

But most of the panel’s discussion fell in the realm of programming, with the major question being: What direction should programming be moving in?

“It’s going to take a lot of different elements to reach the Hispanic market completely,” González said. “When you look at the mix of TV, it’s going to have some drama, some humor, things that make you laugh and make you cry. It’s going to be in English, it’s going to be in Spanish, it’s going to be in Spanglish. We are a complex people … even more segmented than our general market counterparts.”

Woodie agreed, saying that there were not only new programming options, but also new technologies available to cater to different market plans.

But Stroud saw it differently. He said that despite the fact that 50% of Hispanics were English-dominant or bilingual, 75% of the impressions during primetime Monday-Friday from the first two weeks of October were in Spanish. “Today, Spanish is the vehicle of choice for people trying to reach Hispanic viewers,” he added.

Perkins-Roberts saw similarities between the Hispanic and African-American marketplaces. She said it was important not to lump everyone into general categories, that marketing was becoming more personalized and that Hispanic viewers responded most to the “culturally relevant.” By extension, Gil noted that the most successful shows in the demographic also had diverse casts.

The biggest divide in the discussion came on the subject of how to target. Woodie suggested that targeting the individual worked best. “If you are PoliGrip, you don’t care about masses, you care about people who have no teeth,” he said, adding that technologies such as on-demand better enabled such targeting.

But Stroud called that notion an offshoot of the old argument between broadcasters and cablers. He said it all depends on the campaign. A new ad spot for Gatorade, for example, might be more successful when tied to events -- “things that generate water-cooler conversation.”

After some back-and-forth, González finally interjected: “It depends on the business goals.”

The question-and-answer session that followed was brief. Asked whether Nielsen was measuring DVR usage, Gil said yes, for same-day usage up to 27 days.

A lingering question was what the upfront would be like next year, to which there was no easy answer. Stroud said it was difficult to gauge based on this year, given factors such as the Univision sale. Gonzalez agreed, adding that advertisers were looking very hard at how they wanted to use their budgets, with some holding back from full spending initially to see what changes could occur and others favoring integrated marketing packages.

September