Launching an In-Language Internet Program - 12/09/2010

Launching an In-Language Internet Program

By Marcelino Miyares

When our clients ask me whether an in-language Internet program is necessary to the success

of their Spanish-language advertising campaigns, I ask them if their marketing goals are longor

short-term. If a client’s goal is short-term testing of a product or service, an in-language

Internet program is nice to have, but not a necessary. However, if a client has long-term marketing

goals that aim to build loyalty among Spanish-speaking consumers, then an active digital

campaign is essential.

While Hispanics are online at roughly the same usage rates as the general market, e-commerce

has remained underdeveloped. The reason for this is that Hispanic consumer confidence in

online transactions remains low. While many larger marketers—like Amazon and eBay—have

tried to launch major e-commerce hubs that cater specifically to the Hispanic market, a significant

number of these projects have failed in recent years. Univision, the premiere Spanish


media company in the country, just recently announced that it intends to try again.


While the viability of major e-commerce hubs is perhaps to be determined, any company

that makes a serious commitment to the Hispanic market must commit to an in-language

web strategy at some level. There are two ways to enter the market with an in-language web

campaign—passive and active—and there’s really nothing in between.

A passive strategy typically includes an in-language URL that mirrors the content of the

company’s general market site. The more content you make available in Spanish, the more

you demonstrate your respect for the market. You may not actively market the site or drive

traffic with online activity, but at the very least you are able to fulfill the need for more


An active strategy should include a Hispanic-specific marketing hub that serves as a unique

resource for the Spanish language-dependent consumer. This approach is best when used to

support highly targeted creative that is designed to promote a paid web campaign and community

building. A truly Hispanic-focused web campaign should also take cultural, culinary

and customer service to a more relevant marketing level than a company’s general market

website. Categories such as food and kitchen appliances offer a unique opportunity to drive

home the application of a product by appealing to Hispanic consumers’ tastes, customs,

recipes and food preparation culture.

Additionally, the Internet strategy for active campaigns should be expanded to encompass

a truly "digital” strategy, meaning that it should include mobile marketing as a key com-

ponent. Spanish speaking Internet

users are largely acculturated, meaning that they have

as much or more access to general market search engines

and browsers as they do Spanish

sites. The same is not true of mobile campaigns. Smartphones are fast becoming the primary

gateway to the Internet for less acculturated Hispanic consumers. Low-tech social functions,

such as texting, are creating a new frontier for reaching Hispanic consumers.

While all advertising campaigns require a unique approach, one golden rule applies to inlanguage

campaigns just as surely as it applies to general market campaigns: know your

consumer and speak directly to them—they will be sure to respond.


Marcelino Miyares is director of Mercury en Español, a full-service Hispanic direct response specialty practice based in Santa Monica, Calif. He can be reached via e-mail at


back to all articles