Ad Sales Go From Hot to Hotter

Operators and interconnects are continuing to find ad sales to be "muy caliente." Adlink, Comcast Corp. and Cox Communications Inc. report that their heightened efforts to reach the Hispanic market are reaping results.

More nationally focused groups like MTV Networks and NBC Cable are also doing what they can to help their affiliates by providing support materials.

Adlink, the Los Angeles interconnect that formed a Hispanic sales division in July 2000, saw revenues grow "pretty well — about 6 percent last year," said vice president and general sales manager Rick Oster.

Among the most active spenders targeting Hispanic customers in L.A. are automakers (led by Toyoto, Honda and Nissan), movie studios, and fast-food chains (notably McDonald's Corp.), Oster said.

Some of these accounts use the interconnect's Adcopy and Adtag to reach Latinos in various L.A. areas with "more focused, more targeted messages," Oster added. Advertisers can utilize those segmenting tools to run Spanish-only spots in certain neighborhoods where Spanish speakers dominate. In more bilingual areas, they can opt to "go either way" with Spanish or English commercials.

Some advertisers prefer to buy local avails strictly on Spanish-language networks like Galavision or Fox Sports en Español, he said. Others are electing to place spots in general-market networks such as Nickelodeon, Cartoon Network, MTV, Discovery Channel and TLC. Those nets have "a high skew of Hispanic viewers in L.A.," Oster noted.

Oster noted that Adlink has just begun a more aggressive sports initiative, which includes Galavision and Fox Sports en Español. There are also promotional tie-in opportunities involving those services. For example, McDonald's linked with Galavision on a World Cup promotion last year.

This year Adlink will continue to spread L.A.'s Hispanic population growth gospel, rather than targeting clients within specific ad categories, he said. "We're making everyone aware that Hispanics already account for 42 percent of the Los Angeles population" and that most of the younger members of that demo are bilingual, he said.

Cox combos

Billy Farina, vice president of ad sales at Cox, said his MSO also is attracting more Hispanic advertising in key markets. Farina pointed out that the regional news/sports channel Mas! Arizona and Viva California/Viva Mexico, Cox's locally produced program aimed at viewers in San Diego and Tijuana, Mexico, are pulling in both general-market and Hispanic ad revenues.

Cheryl Troncellito, Cox's Hispanic-market sales manager in San Diego, explained that ad sales are sold in segments of one to four minutes rather than in traditional 30-second units. These segments blend host interviews with client content. Subways Restaurants is now in its fourth year as a sponsor.

Cox sells time on Channel 4 as part of its partnership with Major League Baseball's San Diego Padres (a 10-year deal signed in spring 2001). That channel's Spanish-language coverage has drawn McDonald's, Toyota, Kragen Auto Parts and other major sponsors.

As another tie-in with the team, Cox promotes digital cable and other services at the "mini-fiesta" held at Qualcomm Stadium on "Hispanic Heritage Day' each September.

The operator also plugs its Hispanic digital tier at a "Cinco de Mayo" community event each
May, sponsored by a local Buick dealer.

Cox also has enjoyed ad-sales success in Las Vegas, Nev.; Tucson, Ariz.; Santa Barbara, Calif.; Midland and Lubbock, Texas; Providence; R.I., and Wichita, Kan. — all top-50 Hispanic markets, according to Farina. Despite such inroads, he maintained that much work remains to be done: "We're just starting to scratch the tip of the iceberg."

Buyers on board

The message also appears to be getting through on the agency buyer side. Sofia Escamilla, associate media director at La Agencia de Orci & Asociados, said the Los Angeles-based shop's strategy is to buy on Spanish-language cable networks like Galavision and Fox Sports en Español "so we're covered nationally." Those schedules are supplemented by English-language spots on local TV stations, cable systems and interconnects "that index high with the Hispanic population." In most cases, those local buys in New York, Los Angeles and other key markets come in sports, news and children's programming, she added.

Escamilla said women are the target for an account like Tampico, the orange drink. Honda emphasizes sports and music/entertainment channels appealing to young men — MTV, Fox Sports en Español, ESPN. (Last year, Honda broadened its scope to older adults via schedules on Discovery Channel and Animal Planet, which command significant viewership among bilingual Hispanics.)

She cited Adlink's Adtag targeting tool as a plus and added that she also works with spot-cable rep firm National Cable Communications in buying time on other interconnects located in DMAs with high Hispanic concentrations.

She also is aware of AT&T/Comcast's Hispanic sales efforts, but has yet to buy in those markets.

How can cable operators improve their efforts to reach Latinos? Escamilla suggested they "start picking up [networks like] mun2, Fox Sports en Español, ESPN Deportes and CNN en Español and inserting on them."

At Castells & Asociados, account supervisor Ariela Nerubay said that Latinos are "very brand loyal to those interested in us as people." That insight, she said, is based on the firm's focus-group research for such cable clients as Comcast, Charter Communications Inc. and Time Warner Cable in Los Angeles.

Like Adlink's Oster, she finds that Discovery Channel and Cartoon Network are favorites among Hispanics —the former came out tops on the list of channel preferences revealed in the agency's focus groups. In the same research, CNN en Español and Animal Planet also consistently rated highly.

Nerubay estimated that the agency's Hispanic-oriented accounts tend to budget between 5 percent to 10 percent to cable. For accounts like McDonald's and Toyota, buyers typically emphasize the Spanish TV networks and supplement them with spot and local cable, to narrow their targets while extending their reach. Telemundo and Univision enable those advertisers to reach most of their audiences, while most cable buys extend to Galavision, Fox Sports en Español and mun2, she said.

MTV promo power

MTV Networks vice president of affiliate ad sales Jason Malamud has found that affiliates are using its networks in three ways to generate Hispanic advertising.

One strategy is locally inserting bilingual spots on such general networks as MTV, he said. A local cellular-phone client made a five-day buy on the AT&T Broadband system in Miami last December and got "dozens of calls" from prospects.

Second, affiliates sell Spanish-language versions of taggable sponsorship promos for such shows as TV Land's March 12 TV Land Awards
and Nick's April 12 Kids' Choice Awards, Malamud said. About 10 percent of affiliates requesting the Nick spots from MTVN specifically asked for Spanish-language renditions.

"That's a way [for systems] to dip their toes in Spanish-advertising waters" without inserting those networks. Once they see how it works, these operators may well add more Hispanic networks to their ad-insertion rosters, he felt.

Thirdly, affiliates run Spanish-language taggable promo spots for events, he added. Nick's newest affiliate kit offers spots tied into the live theatrical production Dora the Explorer Live! Search for the City of Lost Toys, starting in April, as well as links to Nick En Vivo, its ongoing Spanish-language version of the touring GameLab show for general audiences.

Comcast's Cable Advertising of Metro Atlanta already has scheduled Nick en Vivo for the Plaza Fiesta Mall July 13, Malamud said.

At NBC Cable Networks, vice president of affiliate ad sales and promotions Brian Hunt's portfolio has expanded with the acquisitions of Telemundo and mun2. But his involvement on broadcast network Telemundo's local-sales support relates only to the markets where it has cable carriage, such as Atlanta and South Bend, Indiana.

Hunt said his main goal in the Hispanic-sales arena is "to educate affiliates that carry mun2 but do not yet insert on it."

In the past six months, he said he's made considerable progress, with systems reaching 1 million cable subscribers already selling local inventory on mun2.

His second objective is "to maximize revenues for those that are inserting," he added. Support ranges from training videos to Power Point sales pitches and one-sheets "to explain the Hispanic-market story."

"Why is it important? Obviously, it's a huge growth area," one skewing younger than the general population, Hunt said, noting that mun2's target audience is adults 18 to 34. These consumers are in the process of building brand loyalties, he observed, so they represent "the future of marketers' business."

NBC Cable also develops customizable materials and market-specific promotions and events, he said. For instance, mun2 or Telemundo cable affiliates can mount consumer sweepstakes, whose top prize is a trip to Miami to attend the taping of one of their programs, he said.

Hunt said he has worked with Miami-based Sandra Morillo Weber, named a year ago as national ad-sales manager for Hispanic markets at AT&T Broadband and now continuing those efforts for Comcast. M&M/Mars Inc. and Pontiac's Vibe are among clients that have bought local mun2 avails in Comcast's Miami area.

Weber was unavailable for an update at press time. But Comcast Advertising Sales senior vice president and managing director of sales Hank Oster said that Comcast is building a national multicultural sales division responsible for reaching the Hispanic community, as well as other ethnic groups. He cited "our national footprint and geographic and demographic targeting capabilities."