The Case For Putting Spanish-Language Radio Into The Media Plan.


Hispanics will account for two-thirds of U.S. population growth during the next four decades. Although seven in ten Latinos currently speak at least some Spanish at home, that number is likely to shrink as second and third generation Hispanic populations swell. Already some advertisers are banking on the idea that general market ad buys are enough to cover the Hispanic market. But new data shows that hypothesis comes up short.


The analysis began with an all too familiar conversation between an ad sales team and their client. Westwood One Chief Insights Officer Pierre Bouvard says a decision by a “major client” to leave Spanish-language radio off their media plan was justified with a “we get the audience with a general market buy” rationale. Without naming the brand, Bouvard in a blog post describes how he worked with Nielsen to determine whether that’s really the case today.


A series of English-language only radio buys with 100 GRPs were drawn up across five top markets using top ten stations in each city. Then Nielsen VP of Media Analytics Oliver Marquis created buys in each market where ten percent of the media plan’s weight went to Spanish-language radio. Reach and frequency reports were then calculated to examine impact in the total market and among Hispanics and Spanish-dominant Hispanics. What that analysis showed was the English-only buys under-delivered Spanish speakers by nearly a quarter.


“Across the five markets, a 100-GRP AM/FM radio buy of the top ten English language AM/FM radio stations reaches 43% of the total market but only 33% of Spanish-dominant Hispanics,” said Bouvard. “That’s a 23% reach shortfall among Spanish speakers.”


The Nielsen number-crunching also found that allocating 10% of the ad buy to Spanish AM/FM radio would have generated a 41% increase in the campaign’s reach among Spanish speakers –from 33% to 46% among Spanish-dominant Americans. It also showed a 16% lift across Hispanics overall. “Interestingly, the total reach of the buy also increases by three percent,” said Bouvard.


In this analysis, Nielsen and Westwood One allocated a 10% share of the media weight to Spanish-language radio. But that would be on the “light side” of what was really needed, according to Bouvard. He said that slice of the buy would have still under-delivered among Spanish-dominant radio listeners.


The all-English campaign had a 2.4 frequency overall and a 2.0 frequency among Spanish speakers. The 90/10 split lowered the overall frequency to 2.3 but raised the frequency for Spanish-dominant listeners to 2.1. “Given that these five markets are about 40% Hispanic, the mix of GRPs on Spanish AM/FM radio needs to be increased to generate consistent frequency,” he said. The companies did not identify the five markets used for the analysis but said in each case they had Hispanic populations that were roughly 40%.


“The moral of the story,” said Bouvard, is “you cannot do an adequate job of reaching Hispanics and Spanish-dominant Hispanics unless Spanish AM/FM radio is in the media plan.”


Further bolstering the case for radio, Bouvard said the latest Nielsen Total Audience Report released last week showed AM/FM radio continues to have greater reach among Hispanics than television. Radio reaches 95% of Latinos aged 18 and older compared to 83% for TV. “On average, allocating 20% of a TV buy to AM/FM radio causes a massive 29% increase in Hispanic reach,” he said. “In a local market, 18-49 Hispanic audience deliveries soar when a TV-only buy is remixed with 60% of the budget moved to Spanish AM/FM radio.”

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