Local & Latino

Adlink looks to strengthen Hispanic local-cable sales

Most of the media world has embraced U.S. Hispanics as that pop- ulation booms, and now the local-cable-ad market is warming to the demo, too.

Proof of that is Adlink, the giant Los Angeles-area interconnect that allows advertisers to get their commercials to air on dozens of separate cable systems in the nation’s second-largest market. Currently, it’s developing a separate division to better target Hispanic consumers for local-cable advertisers.

So far, there have been two general routes to reaching Latinos via local cable. The first has been to talk to Hispanics in English through general-market stations or reach them in Spanish on Hispanic stations.

The new Adlink unit, which has yet to launch, will likely expand ways for advertisers to reach the huge Los Angeles Hispanic market by offering more channels and perhaps an interactive feature. Cox Communications is working on a separate local Hispanic cable ad division, too.

Particularly in Los Angeles, the Hispanic demo is impressive. The area’s 6.8 million Hispanics constitute the fifth-largest Nielsen market in the nation, bigger than the San Francisco, Dallas, Boston, Washington and Atlanta markets.

L.A.’s Latinos, 42% of the market, account for as much as 18% of the $105 billion that Hispanics spent nationwide in 2004, according to Scarborough Research.

“The Latino presence in L.A. has reached critical mass, and it’s a significant change that presages what will be happening in the rest of the country,” says Dilys Tosteson García, the president and COO of L.A-based ad agency La Agencia de Orcí & Asociados.

Danielle Gonzales, a VP and investment director with Starcom MediaVest Group’s multicultural agency Tapestry, notes that there are now more opportunities to partner with local cable and national outlets.

“In most markets, the only local-cable insertion possibilities are on Galavision, Azteca and Fox Sports en Español,” she says. “But in the future, we will see the distribution of Hispanic cable increase and the number of cable options increase. We expect stations such as ESPN Deportes, Canal 52 and SíTV to grow substantially. Let’s say, in the next 18 months, buying cable locally to reach Hispanics will become more viable.”

This supposes that Los Angeles cable systems can get more Latino households to subscribe to digital tiers, probably by offering more specialized Hispanic channels. Gonzales and others say that, as the number of channels increases, the more distribution is gained, the more options for advertisers—and Adlink may be tapping into that, as well.

In its look at first-quarter ad spending for this year, TNS Media Intelligence estimated that total U.S. ad spending grew 4.4% over the same time last year, with Hispanic media rising 5.8% from $865.3 million in the first quarter of 2004 to $915.6 million in the same period this year. Latino advertising amounted to an estimated $3 billion in 2004, an 11% increase from 2003—with that number expected to rise to more than $3.6 billion by 2007, according to market-research firm HispanTelligence.

Meanwhile, the current U.S. Hispanic population, which now stands at 41.3 million, is growing three times faster than the population at large; last month, U.S. Census officials reported Hispanics accounted for about half of the overall population growth between 2003 and 2004. For local-cable ad-sales staffs, those are the kinds of numbers that spell opportunity.