RealTime IT News

Latinos Outpace Other Groups' Online Growth

Latino and Hispanic Americans represent the fastest-growing online ethnic group, according to new data from Nielsen//NetRatings.

Based on the research group's findings, the number of Latinos online in the U.S. grew to 7.6 million -- a 13 percent jump from last year, marketing the greatest increase of any ethnic group.

The rate of Hispanic and Latino Americans coming online also far outpaced the national average, which expanded at 3 percent during the same period, to about to 105 million.

At the same time, other large minority groups posted growth on parity with or surpassing the national average. For instance, the number of wired U.S. Asian and Pacific Islanders grew 6 percent to 2.4 million, while the number of black Web surfers saw 3 percent growth, to 7.8 million.

In spite of the growth in Internet use among minorities, however, a wide disparity remains in the Web's ethnic landscape: white Web surfers account for 94 million Internet users, after 4 percent growth from last year.

Except for Hispanic-Latino Web surfers, ethnic groups' shares of the total Internet population remained unchanged as well. Latino Internet users, who previously comprised 6.6 percent of online subscribers, expanded to 7.2 percent. Americans of Asian or Pacific Islander backgrounds continue to represent just over 2 percent of the wired population, while African-American Web surfers make up roughly 7.4 percent of all Internet users. White Web surfers comprise about 89.6 percent of the online population. (The numbers don't quite add up due to some panelists' multiple backgrounds.)

Overall, average Internet usage grew, with U.S. Asian/Pacific Islanders' Web use during June outpacing other ethnic groups. Compared to June 2001, the group month logged on 7.7 percent more often (26 sessions), spent three hours longer online (about 16.3 hours monthly) and viewed 1,364 Web pages, an 11 percent increase.

Non-Hispanic white Internet users on average logged on 19 times per month in June 2002, up 11 percent from last year, while Latino- and African-African surfers logged on 6 percent more often, about 17 and 16 times, respectively. White Internet users also spent 14 percent longer online, as did Hispanic-Latino surfers. Black Web surfers spent 5 percent longer online, though they viewed 9.7 percent fewer pages. Hispanic-Latino and white Web users viewed about 10 percent more pages.

For advertisers looking to reach ethnic groups online -- or looking for new ways to reach them at all -- the news appears promising, especially with some in the industry feeling the ethnic markets are overlooked in online media. It's long been believed that minority groups respond well to advertising specifically targeted to them.

"With the online populations of ethnic Web surfers growing each year, the online landscape is more closely mirroring the offline reality," said T.S. Kelly, director and principal analyst at Milpitas, Calif.-based NetRatings. "This growth reveals an untapped opportunity for businesses to win over these population groups ... companies and marketers are presented with a growing opportunity to reach these underserved groups through targeted content offerings and smartly placed advertising."

One category of advertiser that might benefit are consumer technology manufacturers. A recent study from Knowledge Networks and The Home Technology Monitor indicates that Latinos are more likely to own devices like PDAs, DVD players and home theaters than other ethnic groups.

One of the reason that specific ethnic groups might be underserved in the U.S. could be due to the fact that Web media plays targeting particular American minority demographics haven't fared so well as of late. Earlier this month, StarMedia, which targeted Spanish-speaking audiences in Latin America and the United States, sold its Internet assets and announced a plan to refocus on wireless services.