Using Personas To Connect Online

Hispanic online advertising has reached critical mass. More and more data, such as the recent Scarborough Research study showing adult U.S. Hispanic Internet penetration at a healthy 54%, point to the fact that the Hispanic digital divide is a thing of the past. Agencies and marketers have also embraced the Internet as a key tool in their marketing arsenal - with many major U.S. Hispanic advertisers regularly including Internet extensions and Web "calls to action" in their ad campaigns.

A key staple of any Hispanic online advertising effort is the design and development of a Hispanic Web presence in the form of a unique landing page, microsite or full Web site. Even traditional Hispanic advertising on TV, print, radio and other offline media is increasingly including Web calls to action by including a URL. More brands are creating unique Web platforms designed to deepen and extend the cultural relevance of their offline and online advertising creative.

Yet, how are these marketers approaching the design and development of these Hispanic Web sites? For those of us in the interactive advertising business, the use of personas has become a tried-and-tested tool for guiding decisions about Web site and interactive advertising development. Personas can be very effective, arguably critical, in developing Hispanic Web sites.



So what are personas? A persona is a user archetype you can use to help guide decisions about product features, navigation, interactions and even visual design. Personas were introduced by Alan Cooper in his 1998 book, The Inmates Are Running the Asylum, as a practical interaction design tool. Since then, personas rapidly gained popularity in the software industry and eventually transitioned to other industries, most notably Web design and interactive advertising.

Personas are synthesized from ethnographic research with real people and then summarized in one- to two-page descriptions that include behavior patterns, skills, attitudes and environment combined with a few fictional personal details to bring the persona to life.

When we develop personas for clients, we utilize online surveys and Web analytics data and leverage existing segmentation data (market segmentation and personas are two different techniques that are often perceived as conflicting methods, but they are actually complementary tools that organizations can use to design effective digital advertising). Personas often compare user goals with business goals, providing a simple view of the balancing act that is so critical for online advertising.

Personas have become highly effective in the Web world because of their focus on understanding and categorizing user behavior, which is critically important in creating effective user experiences on the Web. One of the critical elements that separate online advertising from its traditional counterpart is the two-way nature of digital communications - consumers interact with a banner ad, Web site and viral social media initiative.

Why are personas so important for Hispanic advertising? They are a powerful tool to understand and predict the reactions and desires of your key audiences. This is particularly important when you focus on Hispanic consumers who have different psychographic drivers, Internet experience levels and information-consuming tendencies. Effectively designed and data-driven personas bring Hispanic consumer needs to the forefront of your Web efforts.

If you think about it, the Hispanic advertising industry came to be based on the simple notion that translating general market advertisements into Spanish was not enough to be effective and to connect with Hispanic consumers. Our industry places a heavy emphasis on cultural insights and relevance. With the Web environment, we have the opportunity to add another dimension to our strategic planning - understanding and addressing Hispanic consumer online behavior via the use of personas.

1 comment about "Using Personas To Connect Online ".
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  1. Carla Briceno from Bixal , April 3, 2009 at 6 p.m.

    José, this is a great article and I couldn't agree more!

    Regards, Carla Briceno

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