Marla Skiko Stresses The Importance of Data at Hispanic Television Summit

Tuesday’s keynote interview guest at the 18th annual Hispanic Television Summit was Marla Skiko, the U.S. and global head of media for the Ford Motor Company.  She was interviewed by Court Stroud, a media specialist who is a co-host of a podcast and a contributing writer on the topic. Hispanic television media and advertising was the focus of Tuesday’s virtual sessions, at this summit presented by Broadcasting & Cable and Multichannel News. 

Marla Skiko, U.S. and global head of media, Ford Motor Company

(Image credit: Joe Schramm)

In her interview, Skiko shared that in-house and outsourced consumer data was a key to Ford’s quick ability to pivot its messaging during the initial stages of the pandemic shutdown. She continued by stressing that the reliance on data was especially helpful in multicultural markets, including Hispanics. 

The shutdown stopped Ford’s auto manufacturing worldwide, for the first time since World War II, and switched the company’s focus to the manufacture of PPP materials like ventilators, protective gear and more. She explained that the messaging to consumers and its employees needed “to pivot from one of making and selling automotive products to one where Ford was being helpful and useful” to our communities across the country and around the world. Skiko said that in some areas of the world, where COVID is now subsiding, Ford is “pivoting again from a recovery message to one that responds to the consumers’ urge to get out and about again.”

Ford uses data for designing the message, customizing the creative to specific tactics, and targeting its consumer messaging. “We use data as the base for us to tell the story. Data allows us to create relevant video content that will attract our target. It is especially useful for our messaging to Hispanics. They are often frontline workers, providing necessary services that keep our hospitals, communities, and retail stores functioning. We needed to reflect that we were there to lend a hand to those who needed a hand” she said. Skiko went on to explain that her prior career background in Hispanic media offered her the opportunity to bring Ford the insights they wanted for reaching this growing segment. She stressed that in crafting the story for advertising, one size does not fit all, and recommended that advertisers it is worthwhile to keep that in mind when determining where the video spot will be placed, and who they are targeting. She added, for example, “optimize and design for mobile and its users, just don’t adapt a spot to make it fit.”         

In closing, she offered this advice to Hispanic marketers, “Data is a commodity that can offer a competitive advantage as long as you don’t get overwhelmed by the amount of data, you know which information matters most, and you learn which information is simply not worth measuring.” 

The interview is available on demand to those who register for free to the Hispanic Television Summit at