Study: More U.S. Hispanics on Web

NEW YORK The growth of the U.S. Hispanic population on the Internet in recent years has accelerated faster than previously expected.

Fifty-two percent of the population is now online, representing 23 million users, according to a new report by eMarketer, which two years ago predicted that the Hispanic Web population wouldn’t exceed 20 million until the end of the decade.

Now, the Web researcher forecasts that 29 million Hispanics will be online by 2012, representing nearly 60 percent of the fast growing population. That growth surge — there were just 15.7 million Hispanics on the Web as recently as 2005 — is being driven primarily by young and native born Hispanics, says eMarketer.

This young segment of relatively new Web users, which represents 13.5 percent of the total U.S. Internet population, is generally bilingual — unlike many of their parents. However, this group is not necessarily being reached by brands’ ad efforts on mainstream Web sites, per eMarketer.

This swelling collection of wired Hispanics also are highly diversified when it comes to ethnic background and regional preference, making them difficult to target at times, according to the report.

“To reach Hispanic consumers online, marketers must take a more nuanced approach, going beyond language preference to target niches within this demographic,” says the report.

For example, Mexican Americans may respond to different messaging than Colombian Americans, as may Hispanics living in highly diverse U.S. markets versus those living in areas that are less so. “Online campaigns that target local markets with local references will resonate more than a one-size-fits-all approach.”