Anyone who thinks U.S. Hispanics are still confined to traditional Latin media need only check out the latest Pandora stats.
According to ComScore's June numbers, 25 percent of Pandora's total 76.4 million active monthly unique visitors (MUV's) are Hispanic. That translates to an astounding nearly 19 million Hispanic MUV's, a number that not only places Pandora as the No. 1 music streaming property among Hispanics, but also as the top destination for Hispanics even when compared to endemic Hispanic sites like Univision Digital (which in June had 10.5 million MUVs).
ComScore is not alone in validating Pandora's Latin popularity. According to Nielsen's "Hispanics and Music" report released this week, Pandora is the No. 1 streaming service in the country among Latinos, with 39 percent of Hispanics listening in a typical week.
Pandora is not a Spanish site, nor does it advertise to Hispanics. So why the Latin traction?
For one, Pandora has made a concerted effort to broaden its Latin listener base and build up its Latin library. It boasts three separate genre subdivisions for the music -- "Latin," "Mexico" and "Puerto Rico" -- with 27 stations under the "Latin" umbrella alone, and 15 stations under the "Mexican" umbrella. That's more than the number of stations found under dance, metal or even country. The diversity of stations, in turn, reflects Pandora's ability to target its users.
"The biggest part is we survey our user," says Mike Reid, Pandora's executive director for multicultural. "Once we identify this user base as someone who is potentially Hispanic we survey them."
Those surveys reveal another key driver: Latinos prefer to listen to Pandora via their mobile devices.
"[Our] growth in Hispanic is driven by our ability to reach that consumer in mobile and offer them both Latin and non-Latin music," says Reid. "You've got second- and third-generation Hispanics becoming more influential in this country and therefore the proliferation of smartphones and technology really put us in a good position with this consumer."
For several years now, research has shown that Hispanics love their mobile devices. According to Experian's 2014 Hispanic Market Overview report, Hispanics are 17 percent more likely than non-Hispanics to access the Internet more through their phone than through a computer.
That makes Pandora a perfect match for the demo. Approximately 80 percent of Pandora's total listening hours occur via mobile, and 17.5 million of Pandora's 19 million Hispanics listen on their phones, far more than other users.
Diego Prusky, founder and CEO of digital marketing company InPulse Digital, also sees the Hispanic/Pandora love affair as a "mobile and radio similarity. Hispanics are used to listening to radio at work, and switching to Pandora was easy," he says. "They get free radio, with little advertising and with their own playlists."
For the market as a whole, the Pandora numbers are a wake-up call.
"The ComScore numbers illustrate the evolvement of the marketplace," says Reid. "It shows that when you think about reaching total Hispanics, marketers have to think about expanding their choices of outlets beyond the traditional, endemic media outlets. It's obvious we're capturing not just Spanish-dominant, but also the bilingual Hispanic."
A version of this article first appeared in the Aug. 23rd issue of Billboard