News Column

Surfing In Two Worlds

December 2005, HISPANIC BUSINESS Magazine

Joel Russell

Internet reach

How important is the U.S. Hispanic online market? A good measure is that ad spending aimed at this audience reached $100 million in 2005, according to estimates by the Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB). That's up 33 percent from 2004 when spending in the market was $75 million, and up 10-fold from 2002, when it was just $10 million. This quick turn of the media buyers' heads reflects the rapid emergence of a vibrant Hispanic Internet marketplace – largely dominated by second- and third-generation Web users – even as the major traditional media ad spending targets have seen a slowdown in growth (See "Market Slump or Long-Term Trend").

Seventy Percent of Hispanic English-Users Wired Reflecting Web-demographic research, many of the ads directed at this rising Hispanic audience are delivered either in English or both English and Spanish. The objective is to capture the significant numbers of English-dominant or bilingual Hispanic surfers who "live in two worlds" according to a Yahoo! spokes-person – often preferring English for searches they conduct at work, and Spanish or bilingual sites for surfing from home.

Of a total U.S. Hispanic Web audience of 14.4 million unique visitors in 2005 – as measured by the Web trackers at comScore Media Metrix – 11.3 million individuals (79 percent) expressed a preference for English or bilingual online materials. More specifically: 7.5 million of the total Hispanic audience (52 percent) prefer English, and another 3.8 million (27 percent) prefer bilingual materials. (See chart, "Language Preference of Hispanics Online and Growth").

Moreover, the online Hispanic audience is growing fast: up 6 percent in 2005, and set to grow at an annual rate of 6.7 percent through 2008, versus 2.8 percent a year for the overall U.S. online population, according to eMarketer.

The overall Hispanic Web audience is still demographically disproportionate – Hispanics account for only 7.1 percent of all U.S. Web users but 14 percent of the population. Nevertheless, a Pew Internet & American Life Project "Digital Divisions" report released in October 2005 concludes, "our surveys, conducted only in English, consistently find that English-speaking Hispanics are as likely as non-Hispanic whites to use the Internet (70 percent of each group)."

Most-Visited Sites Owing to the U.S. Hispanic Internet audience's tendency to prefer English for surfing, the sites Hispanics visit most are general-audience media sites such as AOL, Yahoo!, Microsoft's portal, Google, and eBay. And, because these sites aggregate their total users among all their different domains, it is difficult to know how many Hispanics visit the Hispanic-specific parts of these portals.

A listing developed by HispanTelligence® – the research arm of Hispanic Business – that includes only Hispanic-oriented sites, and using the ranking methodology developed by Web site statistics tracker, puts in first place, followed by The Miami Herald site and the Terra U.S. site.

For reach and page-view data on the top 10 sites in this category, plus financials for the two that are publicly traded, visit

Language Preference of Hispanics Online And Growth: August 2005 vs. 2004
Number of Users (M) Language Preferences as a % of the U.S. Hispanic Population
2005 Total Hispanic Audience*: 14,415 100%
English preferred 7,473 52%
Spanish preferred 3,101 22%
Both preferred 3,841 27%
2004 Total Hispanic Audience*: 13,600 100%
English preferred 7,000 51%
Spanish preferred 2,800 21%
Both preferred 3,800 28%
*Total Hispanic Audience: all Hispanics at U.S. home/work/college-university locations.
Source: Compiled by comScore Media Metrix, a division of comScore Networks, Inc.


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