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Facebook ads can now be targeted to U.S. Latinos with new ethnic option

Advertisers using Facebook’s self-serve ad platform have always had a few different options when targeting users. The location of the Facebook user, their age and sex, and their interests or pages they already like.

Now an “Ethnic” option has been added with only one choice: Hispanic (US).

Latino marketing professionals see this as a significant addition to Facebook’s ad platform, one that could signify the burgeoning U.S. Hispanic market has finally arrived.

“What’s important to know is that each and every month 25 million Hispanics visit Facebook,” says Lee Vann, the CEO of Captura Group in California, who has worked in the online Hispanic market for 12 years. “Seventy-five percent of online Hispanics visit Facebook each month. A lot of advertisers, want to leverage Facebook’s tools to reach Hispanics.”

A Facebook spokesperson said the feature was added at the end of 2011 per requests from advertisers. The estimated reach for advertisers is listed as 8,441,300 people who live in the United States and are Hispanic.

“Even before ethnicity was added, the Facebook ad platform was an amazing research and advertising tool,” says Joe Kutchera, author of Latino Link: Building brands online with Hispanic communities and content.

Facebook ads can now be targeted to U.S. Latinos with new ethnic option tumblr lzv8udHkiY1r1767o news NBC Latino News

Screenshot of self-serve ad platform which now features an “Ethnic” targeting option.

Giovanni Rodriguez, the Chief Marketing Office (CMO) of Deloitte Postdigital, says the Hispanic market has become the belle of the ball for advertisers.

“It seems like a fairly recent thing that media companies have been focusing on the Hispanic market in a pretty big way. The Census numbers came out and they were a lot bigger than we thought it would be. One in six people in the U.S. are Hispanic and by 2050 one in three Americans will be,” he says. “It’s a wake up call and it’s pretty amazing.”

Rodriguez says that Latinos are wired and social, which has caught the attention of three groups. Big media companies, advertisers and increasingly, politicians. “So much so that even Time Magazine would put it on the cover. The combinations of these things has created this frenzy,” he adds.

Rodriguez has written before about the idea of Latinos as a metatribe, “not a single monolithic group but a loosely-tied collection of different groups – with different interests – that sometimes come together when they are approached the right way or the wrong way.”

He gives the issues of education and immigration as two passion points where Hispanics can come together online.

But some caution that it may take more than simply reaching out to Latinos in a broad way to get them to pay attention.

“I’m not a big believer in Facebook advertising,” says Julio Ricardo Varela, the founder of Latino Rebels, who works with brands to help them reach out to the Hispanic market. “A Facebook like is the start. It gets people in. Getting people is not the problem. You can use the ethnic advertising but what do you do after?”

Gustavo Razzetti, the Chief Strategy and Engagement Officer for Grupo Gallegos in California, says he reached out to Facebook over the ethnic ad offering because there are more than 8 million Hispanics in the U.S. on Facebook.

“We have asked about their algorithm to come up with that number and they don’t disclose it,” he says. “Our research shows there are 23 million Hispanics in the U.S. on Facebook so what happened to the rest of them?”

Lori Gama, a tech, mobile and social expert says the new ethnic tab goes against what’s written in Facebook’s advertising guidelines. The guidelines read in part, “Ad text may not assert or imply, directly or indirectly, within the ad content or by targeting a user’s personal characteristics within the following categories. Race or ethnic origin, religion or philosophical beliefs, sexual orientation…”

Despite the issues with the ethnic option, there is little doubt that the rise of the Latino market compared to the general market, accelerated the arrival of Facebook’s addition to its platform.

“Latinos are much more social than their counterparts by nature,” says Juan Tornoe, CMO and partner of Cultural Strategies in Texas. “This is evidenced by the numbers of Latino bloggers out there. Twenty-one percent of all bloggers are Latino. We keep interacting like crazy online and we’re paying attention, so an intelligent advertiser says, ‘How am I going to connect with them?’”

Now Facebook has given them a way to do so.

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