Univision Online Reports Ad Surge

Univision Communications reported Wednesday that its Internet unit, Univision Online, had experienced a surge in advertising similar to that reported by top news sites, a clear sign that marketers are eager to reach Hispanics online, the group having been tabbed recently as the largest minority in the United States.

In 2002, Univision said it added 70 new advertisers for its Univision.com site, bringing the total number of advertisers to 100 and increasing ad revenues by 92 percent. The growth mirrored what has been reported by the Online Publishers Association of the Web sites of top newspapers, such as NYTimes.com and washingtonpost.com.

“All our data continues to support that Hispanics are a growing and thriving online audience across the board,” said Richard Israel, vice president of Hispanic marketing solutions at comScore Networks. “I think what you saw in the Hispanic market was only the early adopters were online and now what’s happening is you’re seeing more of the masses coming on board and starting to participate.”

Univision Online, which offers news and information catered to Hispanic Americans, had 733,000 unique users in December, according to comScore.

In its last quarterly financial filing, Univision reported that its online unit had more than doubled its revenues in the first nine months of 2002, reaching $8.2 million. Still, the online operation lost $11.1 million, though it cut its losses substantially. In 2003, the company said it expects 100 percent revenue growth in its online unit, while still returning $12 to $14 million in losses.

Last week, new figures from the Census Bureau showed that Hispanics had become the most populous minority group in the United States, with a population of about 37 million. Hispanics also have higher birth rates and a lower median age than the general population.

ComScore Networks, an Internet audience measurement firm, estimates that about 15 million Hispanics are online, with that number growing at about 20 percent a year. This is a much higher growth rate than that of non-Hispanic users, which are increasing their presence online by just 6 percent annually. The largest markets are New York and Los Angeles, each of which has 1.6 million Hispanics online, followed by Miami’s 718,000.

Univision said the overall growth in the Hispanic population, combined with the group’s increased online usage, has helped make its online site attractive to advertisers looking to tap into a lucrative and underserved market. According to DRI/McGraw Hill, Hispanic households have $443 billion in annual buying power.

This realization has led to a surge in marketing dollars to Hispanic media. According to ad-spending research firm CMR, spending on Hispanic television advertising, at stations such as Univision and Telemundo, will grow 9.3 percent this year — the largest increase for any media.

Online marketing is just beginning to tap into this growing market. Last week, AutoTrader.com announced a marketing partnership with Univision Online to serve as the site’s exclusive provider of used-car listings. Univision’s advertiser base includes AT&T Wireless, Bank of America, Citibank, Fannie Mae, Pepsi, Sony Pictures and Verizon.

Israel said companies have taken the first step in marketing to Hispanics: putting up Spanish-language sites. For example, Toyota, which advertises on Univision.com, launched a Spanish-language site in September 2001. Other automakers, like Ford and Nissan, have followed suit or plan to do so soon.

“Clearly they see if they get on board now they can increase their market share at expense of their competitors,” Israel said.

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