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Are Videos in Spanish the Way To Go?

Screen capture of a scene from the four-part telenovela series ¡Nunca Más! developed by the Office of Women’s Health in the Food and Drug Administration

The answer may surprise you. It takes time, resources and actual money. Why prepare a video for something that can be written about and released in a shorter timespan at a much lower cost? This question is now the new normal. But are we asking the right question? Consider if the engagement seen on Spanish video content has a bigger payoff than its English counterpart.

According to a Nielsen report, the average Hispanic spends more than eight hours viewing online videos every month. That is 1.5 hours more than the U.S. average. Despite having a smaller audience, the engagement on Spanish videos is greater than that of its counterparts. Spanish video content simply seems to “stick” better.

This is something we’ve seen firsthand at USA.gov. Across all social media, GobiernoUSA.gov’s audience is smaller than that of its sister site USA.gov. The English channels are larger on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. Yet, when it comes to video viewership, GobiernoUSA.gov’s YouTube channel is much higher despite having less subscribers.

Gobierno U.S.A.'s YouTube banner

In fact, over the last year (August 2014 – August 2015) USA.gov’s YouTube channel has gotten over 45,000 views with an estimated 59,000 minutes watched. On the other hand, GobiernoUSA.gov’s YouTube channel received more than 221,000 views with over 375,000 minutes watched during the same period. Even though GobiernoUSA.gov published one new video and streamed one event compared to USA.gov’s five videos and two streamed events, the content in Spanish went much farther. The hungry audience for Spanish-language video material will not be ignored anymore.

We can see it in the corporate world, as more and more retailers are creating Spanish video content that goes beyond a 30-second ad during a commercial break. YouTube channels play a bigger role than ever, as viewership moves from the TV to the computer. The next years could show a shift to video content as creators realize that this could be the key for the Spanish markets. We could be on the verge of seeing a shift to:

  • Vertical video content—if everyone watches videos on their phones or tablets, why not?
  • Integrated messages on a single platform—get everything by clicking on a video.
  • Cross brand Hispanic targeted campaigns, with some serious punditry. (ie. phone and insurance companies)

A Final Thought

In most cases, the content in English is the bread and butter of a platform and Spanish takes a second seat since it serves a smaller audience. But statistics show that even if the raw numbers are lower, Hispanics place more importance and time on video resources, giving content in Spanish a higher penetration rate. This is not to discourage English video content, but perhaps your agency should give serious thought to incorporating video content in Spanish related to your mission. Even Netflix has rolled out two productions for Spanish audiences this year. The trend suggests we could be headed to the golden age of video content in Spanish, and we cannot afford to be caught off guard.

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