Lessons From the Election—Hispanic Market Edition

Spending on digital + ignoring Latinos = wasted dollars

Political action committees, campaigns and parties all took out digital and television ads in record numbers this campaign season, and most of the PAC ads—hundreds of millions of dollars, at least—were for Republican candidates. Conservative hopefuls for every office were touted across the airwaves and on mobile devices, and the Hispanic population heavily overindexes on mobile technology and TV viewership—and hardly any of those ads explicitly mentioned concerns unique to Latino voters or addressed those voters directly. The results? Seventy-one percent of Hispanic voters cast their ballots for President Obama. 

Conservative think tank Resurgent Republic found that while 54 percent of Hispanic voters identify themselves as conservative, a scant 18 percent of the same demographic self-identify as Republican, in large part due to the party's hardline stance on immigration, among other issues. The demographic is, by and large, conservative on social issues and contributes a disproportionate number of citizens to the traditionally Republican-leaning armed forces, but neither issue was a guarantor of success this time around.

Telemundo COO Jacqueline Hernández, a veteran exec who's seen her company grow over the years to one of NBCU's primary concerns, said she expected the advertising scene to start paying closer attention to Hispanic consumers in the near future. "I think, in general, especially because we're hearing so much about the Latino vote and what matters to the Latino consumer, that we are going to see more messaging directed at them," she said.

Politically, it's a demographic that was seriously underestimated in the recent election. If there's one lesson from the presidential race for marketers, it's that you can drop all the money you want on digital, but if you don't devote a significant percentage of it to reaching Hispanics, you're missing a large opportunity.

Trendrr data for broadcast outlets during the election puts 1.46 million viewers on social media during the election on NBC alone. There were 1.43 million watching coverage on Fox, 1.37 million on ABC and 1.32 million on CBS. The Spanish-language broadcasters came in next, with 1.3 million and 1.29 million on Telemundo and Univision, respectively. Sure, they're huge numbers, but look: General-market advertising reached more Hispanics than niche-market advertising, especially on Telemundo big sister net NBC, which partners with Telemundo and its other Spanish-language nets to offer targeted advertising through Hispanics at NBCU. The message is pretty clear. Demonstrate a corporate interest in minority viewers, and they will check you out.

"You have to follow the consumer," said Hernández. "You really have to adapt to the changing demographic—not just for elections but for all markets. We had it when we saw the census, and now when it comes to campaigns, we're seeing the same thing."